Living in Palm Springs gives you the opportunity to attend any number of local events and festivals without the costs of hotels and transportation. And there are really too many to choose from, especially in season from January through May. But more and more attractions are coming to the desert in the summer. August is now the scene for Splash House parties at several local, hip hotels, like the Ace and Saquaro. And rates drop at many gay resorts sponsoring splash parties during the summer months.
Below is a list compiled from many different sites. Be sure to check out the links for up-to-date information. Dates change somewhat from year to year.
Starting in January:
Palm Springs International Film Festival. Early January. This festival has gotten larger and more significant since Sonny Bono started it in the late 80s.
Desert X. Biennial art exhibit from February through April. Temporary art scattered all over the valley. Some work, like the Mirror House in 2017, attracts a lot of press and visitors.
Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards. Early February. Largest fundraising event for the Desert AIDS Project, named for one of DAP’s founders, designer and philanthropist, Steve Chase.
International Bear Convergence. Early February. Bears take over a hotel and most of Arenas Road for fun and frolic.
Palm Springs Modernism Week. February. One of the biggest events in Palm Springs spread out over ten days. Tours of Palm Springs Midcentury Modern masterpieces, the Modernism Show at the Convention Center and a bunch of fun parties and side events.
Art Palm Springs. February. Premier art fair in the Southwest scheduled to coincide with Modernism Week.
Riverside County Fair & National Date Festival. February. Located at the fairgrounds in Indio. A county fair celebrating the annual date harvest. Where else can you find that? Typical county fair attractions, plus nightly entertainment.
Cathedral City LGBT Days. Late March. Like Gay Pride without the parade. First gay pride of the year.
American Documentary Film Festival. Late March. Also known as AmDocs. A growing exhibition of documentary films with special events and receptions at the Palm Springs Cultural Center, home of the Camelot Theater.
Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend. Early April. The largest and most famous girl party anywhere doesn’t really have much to do with Dinah Shore or golf. This event and the White Party for gay men established Palm Springs as the go-to place for LGBT parties.
White Party. Late April. Jeffrey Sanker’s gigantic pool/dance/circuit party for gay models, or at least gay men who think they’re models. As a resident, you can just go to dance and skip the poolside posing. You’ll notice a bigger crowd at the gym than usual.
Dining Out for Life. Late April. Check Desert AIDS Project for schedule and locations. Local restaurants donate a portion of whatever patrons spend in their establishments on a certain day for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Coachella Music Festival. Two weekends in April. One of the most important music festivals in the US. At the Empire Polo Club in Indio. Always sold out the day tickets go on sale.
Stagecoach Country Music Festival. Last weekend in April. Follows Coachella at the Empire Polo Club. Because country music isn’t exactly the focus of Coachella. The upshot is that traffic on the 10 is a mess for three weekends in April.
Evening under the Stars. Early May. At the O’Donnell Golf Club in Palm Springs. A benefit dinner and entertainment event benefitting AAP-Food Samaritans, providing nutritional support for low-income people living with HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses.
Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival. May. Fans of film noir pack the Camelot Theater for this long weekend film fest.
Queen of the Desert. Late May. Area drag queens claw their way to the top to grab the crown, lip synching and generally tearing up the stage in the process.
Palm Springs Hot Rodeo. May. Cowboys and cowgirls gather for this fundraiser. Hot and dusty. Like it should be. Rodeo grounds are out in Banning, but there are western themed events in town, too.
Palm Springs International Short Fest. June. Another important and well-attended film festival at the Camelot Theater.
Comic Con Palm Springs. August. Comic Con geeks brave the August heat to cluster at the Convention Center.
Cinema Diverse: Palm Springs LGBTQ Film Festival. September. A festival offering LGBTQ feature and short films from around the world.
Palm Springs Modernism Week – Fall Preview. October. A four-day event that complements the big event in the spring.
Desert AIDS Walk. October. A notable fundraising effort for the Desert AIDS Project.
Palm Springs Leather Pride. October. A big deal from the Leather Order of the Desert. Local sponsors hold multiple events and select the annual Mr. Palm Springs Leather.
Greater Palm Springs Pride. Early November. Long weekend event with a Sunday parade and a weekend full of parties, including a two-day downtown Palm Springs festival.
Festival of Lights Parade. Early December. The annual Palm Springs Holiday Parade takes place in the evening on Palm Canyon Drive. Lighted floats, balloons, marching bands, local news broadcasters and politicians.
It’s hard to find one site that lists all events. Some leave out gay events altogether. And others focus on golf or tennis, which are not included in this list. But other resources include the quasi-official Palm Springs guide at https://www.visitpalmsprings.com/events/list. And Palm Springs Life has an exhaustive list at https://www.palmspringslife.com/palm-springs-calendar-of-events/.