Half Moon Bay Festival Activities: Information and Tips

Formerly known as San Benito and Spanishtown, Half Moon Bay is a city located on a similarly named bay in San Mateo County, California. With open fields, mountains, quaint towns and splendid views of the ocean, the city evokes a relaxed mood. Due to the community's pastoral nature, the most famous Half Moon Bay festival, the "Art and Pumpkin Festival," is folksy and free. So time your visit to the city and make your Half Moon Bay bed and breakfast stay more memorable by taking part in this world-renowned Half Moon Bay festival.

Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival
Main Street between Miramontes and Spruce Streets
Half Moon Bay, California 94019
(650) 726-9652

Half Moon Bay produces more than 3,000 tons of pumpkin annually, and the city celebrates it through their old-fashioned Pumpkin Festival every autumn on the weekend following Columbus Day. Celebrated from 9 am to 5 pm on that Saturday and Sunday, it attracts a gathering of visitors and locals alike to the "World Pumpkin Capital." Huge pumpkins of the "orangest" Cucurbita sort, the "Picasso of Pumpkin Carvers," harvest-inspired art, sensational entertainment and scrumptious food and wine all characterize this Half Moon Bay festival. Admission is free.


The festivities commence with the Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off, where veteran growers contend for the title and the prize money worth $20,000. There are more than 250 booths that feature one-of-a-kind harvest-inspired art through fine art, jewelry, leather, wood, ceramics, metal and other materials.

Be entertained with the best the Bay Area has to offer - from bands to street performers to magicians. Be spooked with the Johnston Haunted Barn featuring the Coastside Young Actors Workshop (admission is $5).

When you get hungry, try the local homecooked fare like Portuguese linguisa sausage, and macaroni and cheese with pumpkin seeds. Pair your meal with Half Moon Bay Winery's limited-release Sangiovese or Mavericks Pumpkin Harvest Ale.  

Enjoy the Pancake Breakfast served by the the High School Varsity Basketball Team (cost is $8), the Costume Contest, the FedEx Great Pumpkin Parade, hilarious Pie-Eating Contests, non-competitive Pumpkin Carving, the Pumpkin Run/Walk and more.

How to Get There

Located 25 miles south of San Francisco and 45 miles north of Santa Cruz on Highway 1, Half Moon Bay is best reached from the north through Highway 1 South from Highway 280 through Pacifica, Montara, Moss Beach and El Granada into the city.

If you'll be coming from the East Bay, travel west on Highway 92 over the San Mateo Bridge, continuing past Highways 101 and Interstate 280 to the city's Main Street.

If you'll be coming from the South Bay, travel along Highway 101 or Interstate 280 North to Highway 92 West.  Take Highway 92 West to the city.

If you're taking public transportation to get there, call the Trav-Info Line at 817-1717 or visit their website: www.511.org. You may also contact SamTrans/CalTrain at (800) 660-4287 or visit their website: www.samtrans.com.


Half Moon Bay City does not allow pets on the festival grounds, so it would be better to leave them at home or in your Half Moon Bay inn.


Parking spaces are available at the the south end of Main Street, where Higgins-Purissima Road meets Highway 1; at Half Moon Bay High School, located on Main Street just north of Highway 92; at Metzgar and Main Street; at the Community Center/Shoreline Station complex, located just north of Kelly Avenue on Highway 1; and at Seymour Street and Highway 1. You may be charged a small fee by the local non-profit organizations who operate these areas.

For free parking, there are spaces available on some side streets, but be sure to read signs, as police will cite illegally parked vehicles.

Handicapped parking is located on Purissima Street between Correas Street and Kelly Avenue.