Large festivals return after hiatus – some bigger than ever

One of the many experiences that has been lost to the pandemic for the past two years are festivals of all kinds. With many festivals drawing a crowd of thousands, it simply was not safe to hold such an event while the virus ran rampant.

During the hiatus, many cities and towns were prevented from celebrating their region’s most important exports or draws for visitors. Gilroy did not honor the garlic harvest, Dana Point did not observe being the whale watching capital of the world and Lancaster did not commemorate the poppy bloom.

Thankfully, festivals are finally making a return. Whether to celebrate music, holidays, beer, film or something else, festivals are an essential part of the cultural fabric that people can finally participate in again. The combination of entertainment, food and vendors means everyone can find something to enjoy at these large events.

With some fears over coronavirus remaining or with less funds to host the event, many festivals are returning as scaled-back versions of themselves. Others are back on the calendar with a near-identical program as before the two-year hiatus.

Not so for the City of Lancaster’s annual California Poppy Festival. Rather than holding back, the city is offering a bigger-than-ever festival this spring featuring live entertainment, a beer garden, over 200 vendors and live animal exhibits.

“The 2022 California Poppy Festival will be bigger and better than ever before! As you know, we’ve canceled this event for the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So, we have some time we need to make up for,” said Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris. “Our team is hard at work and pulling out all of the stops — this will be nothing like you have ever seen or experienced before at the California Poppy Festival!”

The festival is moving to the larger space of the AV Fair & Event Center. For the weekend of April 22-24, attendees will have the opportunity to celebrate the beauty of California’s state flower. The weekend coincides with the annual bloom of the delicate orange flowers that coat the Antelope Valley.

Each spring, people from across the state would visit the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve to see the abundant crop of the vibrant flowers. The city offered visitor information for years before starting an event that would welcome visitors to the area that has quickly grown to accommodate 35,000 people with more expected this year.

Attendees at the event center can listen to live music, shop local vendors, ride on camels, watch BMX stunt riders, and line up for amusement rides. Between the beer garden and children’s carnival, there is truly something for everyone no matter their age. Thanks to the larger venue, the festival will include arena events for the first time. The arena will host a live monster truck rally, motor mayhem, and rural olympics.

This year’s event commemorating the huge poppy reserve is also happening on Earth Day. The two events combined and the festival will carry on the tradition of promoting care for the earth. Event sponsor Metrolink is offering a free ride to the event on Earth Day, which is Friday, April 22. People can reach Antelope Valley via several places in Los Angeles County through Metrolink. People using public transit can save on gas while also saving time spent looking for parking – all while protecting the planet.

This year’s bigger and better California Poppy Festival will be open on Friday, April 22 from 2 to 10 p.m.; Saturday, April 23 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, April 24 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The AV Fair & Event Center is at 2551 W. Avenue H in Lancaster. For information on tickets and more, visit

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