An Earth Day Party Guide

Celebrate Mother Nature at top Earth Day fetes and spring festivals around the world.


Since its inception on April 22, 1970, Earth Day has grown in symbolism and popularity to become a touchstone for many different movements: one part grassroots activism, one part volunteerism and one part spring party. Whether your interests lie in fighting climate change, looking for a good glass of sustainable wine, or if you just need an excuse to dig in the dirt, there is an Earth Day festival for you.

For 2009, thousands of events are scheduled in communities around the world, but here is a roundup of some of the best activities planned in North America. If you’re headed elsewhere this spring, or want to reduce your carbon footprint by keeping your travels local, plenty more can be found on the events page of the Earth Day Network.

Green Apple Festival

When: April 17 to 19
Where: New York; Boston; Washington, D.C.; Atlanta; Chicago; Denver; Austin; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Seattle

Billed as “America’s largest Earth Day Action,” the Green Apple Festival began more humbly four years ago as a green-themed day of music in New York City. Now spread over multiple days and 10 cities—and with big-name sponsorships from Timberland, Motorola and Disney—the festival still seeks to combine service with performance.

Sign up for a volunteer event through the Green Apple Web site, then spend a day planting trees, cleaning up parks or replacing porch lights with energy-efficient light bulbs. Participants in each city get in free to a concert on April 19; performers will include Travis Tritt in Austin, Soulive in Boston and Cary Brothers in Los Angeles. The largest gathering will take place Sunday on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., where visitors will be treated to music, entertainment and guest speakers. A list of events in each city is available at

Earth Day on the Bay

When: April 18
Where: San Francisco

For those looking to get in touch with the blue part of our planet rather than the green, San Francisco’s Marine Science Institute will host a day of sea-themed events. There will be plenty to entertain budding marine biologists young and old—arts and crafts, a touch tank in the aquarium, a plankton tow and shark feeding as well as music and something called “environmental vaudeville.” Those 5 and older can get out on the water on a two-hour boat tour ($20), though reservations are strongly recommended.

500 Discovery Parkway (check Web site for directions). Tel. 650-364-2760. Admission: free. Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Earth Day Food & Wine Festival

When: April 18
Where: Santa Margarita, Calif.

Like a Sideways for the eco-set, this event combines the best intentions of Earth Day with the best of Bacchanal. The festival will be held on the grounds of the beautiful Santa Margarita Ranch, a historic mission site just outside of San Luis Obispo where more than 200 wineries, restaurants and other vendors will be on hand to present tastings of the best sustainably produced wines and edibles that California’s Central Coast has to offer. Tickets start at $75 for general admission, and the proceeds will benefit the sustainability research and outreach efforts of the event’s organizer, nonprofit Central Coast Vineyard Team. Attendees can sign up for a free shuttle or organize carpools with others to minimize their environmental impact, and the festival is aiming for a goal of zero waste through the use of recyclable and compostable materials at the event.

Exit 211, off U.S. Highway 101 between Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo. Tel. 805-369-2288. General admission starts at 2 p.m. (premiere tickets cost $100 for early entry at 1 p.m.). Designated Driver admission: $25. All guests leave with a commemorative glass and an eco-friendly goodie-filled tote bag.


When: April 19 to 25
Where: Calgary, Canada, and elsewhere

Bicycle commuters get a lot of kudos this time of year, but longboard skateboarders are green too, and for Earth Day they gather to promote their own form of alternative transportation. The largest GreenSkate event in 2008 took place in Chile, where more than 100 longboarders gathered for a 4.5-mile ride. This year, events are planned in Canada and elsewhere. To find an event near you (or to organize one) check out


Procession of the Species

When: April 24 to 25
Where: Olympia, Wash.

If you’ve ever wanted to celebrate spring by dressing up as a frog, picking up a tambourine and dancing in the streets, this is the event for you. Or you can just come to watch. Olympia’s Procession of the Species is a fun, funky celebration of nature, arts, music and community, and the fest will be marking its 15th year in 2009. Participants in this anti-commercial event build their own animal- and nature-themed costumes (classes in headdress-making and papier-mâché are held earlier in April), and decorate the streets with chalk. The festivities include an ArtsWalk at local galleries, an evening Luminary Procession (on April 24) to nearby Capitol Lake and culminate with a parade through downtown. The event is hedonistic fun for all ages, and the location, set between the snow-capped peaks of Mount Rainier and the Olympic mountain range, is just as easy on the eyes.

Downtown Olympia; procession starts at Legion Way and Cherry Street at 4:30 p.m. Tel. 360-413-0905. Hours: Main parade, 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. on April 25.

Destinations: New York City, Olympia, Calgary, San Francisco, Washington

Themes: Ecotourism

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