Guide to the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival

2014 World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off winner John Hawkley with his 2,058 lb Atlantic Giant
••• Bradley Wittke. Photo courtesy of Miramar Events

Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival

When: October 15-16, 2016 – 9 am to 5 pm

Where: On Main Street between Miramontes and Spruce Streets in Half Moon Bay, California

About: Now in its 46th year, the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival is one California’s most famous fall festivals, featuring the world-championship winning biggest pumpkin of the year, fall food and activities, live music, games, and more.

All proceeds from the festival benefit the Half Moon Bay Beautification Committee which funds local community service organizations and civic improvements.

Festival website and schedule of events.

Festival information line: 650-726-9652

Admission: Free.

Parking:  Parking is available at the south end of Main Street at Metzgar, Half Moon Bay High School (Main St. just north of Hwy. 92), Our Lady of the Pillar Church and the Community Center/Shoreline Station complex, both located on Kelly Avenue just east of Highway 1. The cost of parking varies. Many of the lots are operated by local non-profit organizations who charge a small parking fee. There is very limited free parking on local side streets. 

Pets: Not allowed.

Highlights:

  • Admiring the biggest pumpkin of the year. The 2014 event winner weighed in at 2,058 pounds. This year’s world championship winner will be on display throughout the festival. Note: If you want to see the  to see the actual jumbo pumpkin weigh-off event, that will be held earlier in the week Monday, October 12, 7 a.m., on the IDES Grounds, 735 Main Street, Half Moon Bay.
  • The great pumpkin parade featuring the weigh-off champion pumpkin and grower, marching bands, classic cars, fantastic floats, and more. When/Where: Saturday, 12 noon on Main Street)
  • The food: Save room to sample every pumpkin-flavored treat you can imagine including pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin pie, pumpkin chili, pumpkin beer, pumpkin cocktails, and much more.
  • The pirate/zombie-themed “Haunted Barn”, led by young actors from The Coastside Young Actors Workshop. All the actors are students from grade school through high school trained in the art of improvisation, staying in character, and playing for an audience. Where: The barn is located behind the Historic Jail at 505 Johnston Street. Admission is $7 per person. Children 3 and under are free.
  • Check out the work of local artists at “Made on the Coast,” pop-up art and craft show on Sunday, October 18th. 
  • Enter (or be entertained by) the pumpkin pie eating contest When: On both Saturday and Sunday, age 11 and under at 2 p.m, age 12 and over at 2:15 p.m. Where: The Family Fun Zone in the Bank of America parking lot, 620 Main Street.

Tips:

  • Give yourself plenty of time to get there. If you are coming down Highway 1 from San Francisco or over CA 92 from San Mateo the roads get jammed with traffic early in the day. Give yourself plenty of time. And bring something to listen to on the radio if you do get stuck.
  • Consider reserving a hotel in Half Moon Bay the night before and walking to the festival. Book early--local hotels fill up fast. For a review of Downtown's Half Moon Bay Inn, check out this post.
  • Get your photo taken with “Gourdy,” the festival's pumpkin mascot. He’ll be roaming the festival all weekend.
  • Download the festival’s smartphone app with the festival schedule (available in early October).