What started out as a handful of community leaders at a bonfire with a band, a keg of beer and a pack of hot dogs in 1979 has now become the official summer kick-off party in Solana Beach. The Solana Beach Chamber of Commerce is ramping up for its annual Fiesta del Sol at Fletcher Cove Beach Park, celebrating 40 years of fun and festivities in collaboration with the Belly Up Tavern and the City of Solana Beach. More than 60,000 festival goers are expected to turn out for this two-day event happening on Saturday, May 18 and Sunday, May 19. Best of all, it’s free.
The Fiesta has grown steadily each year since 1979, with the last 10 years reaching up to 55,000 attendees. One of the originators of Fiesta del Sol, Carl Turnbull, a longtime supporter and previous vice president of the Solana Beach Chamber, still breaks into a huge smile when he reminisces about the first years of Fiesta del Sol. Turnbull took pride in the bonfire he would light every year, which was used to commemorate the end of the event.
In honor of the 40th anniversary, the Fiesta is going to be bigger than ever with more booths, 25 food vendors and trucks, and more than 200 arts and crafts vendors. The Belly Up has lined up more than 30 bands to keep the party going, including Hullabaloo, One Drop, ALO, Pine Mountain Logs, Beta Maxx, Abbey Road, Atomic Groove, and many more. The lineup is rich with rock, reggae, soul, funk, jazz, blues, Latin and worldbeat, spanning cultures and countries from Africa to Brazil. This will be the first year the Fiesta will offer a third area for live music.
Beside the amazing band lineup, the beer and wine gardens are always one of the big draws to the Fiesta del Sol. The shaded gardens offer a perfect view of the main stage and the drink menu has been expanded this year. Also high on the popularity list is the Fireman and Lifeguard Dunk Tank and the Fireman Breakfast on Sunday morning.
There’s a special fun zone just for kids with rides, games and hands-on activities including bounce houses, a climbing wall and kids’ arts and crafts. The main stage showcases children’s dance groups, musicians and martial arts exhibitions.
According to Solana Beach Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Maryam Hintzen, the event not only celebrates the community, it supports the community.
“We work hard all year long to provide our Chamber members and local shops the support they need to sustain successful businesses,” she says. “Instead of putting our costs on our members, we have this amazing annual fundraiser which helps fund the Chamber and allows us to provide these wonderful services to our members. It is also our way to bring people here and show them what an amazing little town we have here in Solana Beach. We do this for our community.”
The Chamber of Commerce is still looking for volunteers to work at the event. Go to fiestadelsol.net to sign up or to get more information. Free parking with free shuttle service is available from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. just off Lomas Santa Fe on Stevens Avenue and at the Del Mar Racetrack across from the track on Jimmy Durante Boulevard. The Fiesta is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. both Saturday, May 18 and Sunday, May 19. For more information on the event, visit fiestadelsol.net.