49 Things to Do in Greater Palm Springs in May

Joshua Tree Music Festival and a Memorial Day air show are our top picks this month.

Amelia Rodriguez Attractions, Calendar of Events

The Memorial Day Air Fair & Flower Drop, May 29, is an annual favorite at the Palm Springs Air Museum.


 MAY 18-21

You probably haven’t heard of the headliner at this spring’s Joshua Tree Music Festival. Jazz-funk outfit Galactic has a quiet-but-mighty following in their hometown of New Orleans and beyond, but for many ticketholders, the jam band will be a new discovery — and, according to festival founder Barnett English, that’s exactly the charm of this event.

“I spend countless hours [searching],” English says of curating the annual lineup of under-the-radar talent. “I get up early, and I put my headphones on, and I’m listening to new bands.” Dozens of performers participate who hail from around the world, from France to Algeria, plus closer-to-home locales, including Indio. 

Now in its 20th year, the High Desert fest has retained its grassroots feel even as its attendance numbers have swelled to around 3,500. Far more intimate than major music events in the low desert, the festival often feels more like “an overgrown family reunion,” English reflects. Children are welcome, and most festivalgoers camp out.

In addition to four days of almost nonstop music on two stages, there are workshops, yoga classes, sound baths, and art stations. New this year is the Queer Salon, an LGBTQ+ space designed with input from artist Tania Hammidi along with past festival attendees. Visitors can share queer poetry and coming out stories, craft pronoun pins, and learn new dance moves.

The salon is a natural extension of English’s longtime efforts to shape Joshua Tree Music Festival into a haven where attendees can be their freest selves. “There’s a collective effervescence,” he says of the festival environment. “Watching people dancing like wild banshees, laughing their heads off — that makes all [the work] worth it.”

Rauw Alejandro & Jabbawockeez

May 2 / Known as the King of Modern Reggaeton, Puerto Rican singer Rauw Alejandro launched his musical career by posting self-produced songs on SoundCloud. Masked dance crew Jabbawockeez accompanies Alejandro during his performance at Acrisure Arena

Paint Night at the Brewery

May 3 / Sip locally crafted ales, porters, and IPAs at La Quinta Brewing Co.’s Palm Desert taproom while creating a gallery-worthy painting. Artist Lauren Avitia walks you through each step of decorating your canvas. 


May 3 / Tribute group DSB (an acronym inspired by the venerated 1981 tune “Don’t Stop Believin’ ”) faithfully re-creates Journey’s greatest hits in a free concert at the Downtown Palm Springs Park. 

Gand Band Chicago Blues Caravan

May 3 / Husband-and-wife musical duo Gary and Joan Gand scored CV Independent’s Best Local Band Award three years in a row. The groovy pair perform at Agua Caliente Casino Palm Springs with a special guest in tow. 

Arthur Trace & The Yve Evans Trio

May 4–6 / Decorated conjurer Arthur Trace has entertained the Prince of Monaco and landed magic convention speaking gigs with his inventive illusions. The Yve Evans Trio joins him at Marvyn’s Magic Theater in La Quinta for an evening of jazz music and sleight of hand. 

First Friday El Paseo

May 5 / Activities on El Paseo in Palm Desert delight revelers on the first Friday the month. Explore the street’s galleries on a self-guided art walk, enjoy live music, and check out the classic car show and motorcade down the street. 

Joshua Tree Philharmonic

May 5–7 / The 50-plus musicians of the Joshua Tree Philharmonic meld classical favorites with iconic cinematic selections from Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, Lord of the Rings, and other movies in this orchestral medley at the Hi-Desert Cultural Center in Joshua Tree

She Loves Me

May 5–14 / Imagine the rom-com You’ve Got Mail set 60 years earlier. Clerks Amalia and Georg butt heads at work in a 1930s Budapest perfume shop while exchanging romantic letters with unknown admirers in this charming musical at Palm Canyon Theatre in Palm Springs

The Last Five Years

May 5–21 / Desert TheatreWorks in Indio presents this two-person musical tracing a couple’s tumultuous five-year relationship. The play nabbed a Drama Desk Award in 2002 for its poignant music and lyrics. 

Rancho Mirage Talent Contest

May 6 / Singers, dancers, comedians, and other creative Coachella Valley residents vie for cash prizes in this talent competition at the Rancho Mirage Amphitheatre. 


Palm Springs Vintage Market takes place May 7.

Palm Springs Vintage Market

May 7 / From perfectly worn-in band tees to mid-mod TV stands, a plethora of retro finds are yours to discover at this market at the Palm Springs Cultural Center.

The Mystic Chiefs

May 10 / Los Angeles–based soul band The Mystic Chiefs drop by Agua Caliente Casino Palm Springs as part of the Desert Blues Revival series. Frontman Johnny Ray Jones has shared stages with John Fogerty and Big Joe Turner. 

Joe Skilton

May 11–13 / Think fast! Mentalist Joe Skilton reads minds, predicts the future, and even influences attendees’ decisions in a hypnotizing show at Marvyn’s Magic Theater in La Quinta

Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival

May 11–14 / This festival at the Palm Springs Cultural Center celebrates the black-and-white B movies of the mid-20th century, showcasing cynical crime dramas featuring hardboiled detectives and sultry femme fatales. 

Jeff Leach

May 12 / Multihyphenate performer Jeff Leach has explored just about every avenue in showbiz, from spinning tracks as a DJ to monologuing onstage with England’s Royal Shakespeare Company. He spits jokes during a stand-up set at Agua Caliente Casino Palm Springs.

Lady A

May 12 / Lady A frontwoman Hillary Scott auditioned for American Idol twice before forming her country group, which went on to score seven Grammys. The “Need You Now” artists bring their biggest hits to Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio. 


May 12–13 / This production by Joachim St. Maximilian at the Palm Springs Cultural Center explores the impacts and intersections of the lives and deaths of American greats Medgar Evers, Malcom X, and James Arthur Baldwin.


The citywide White Party kicks off May 12.

White Party Palm Springs

May 12–14 / This  citywide LGBTQ+ extravaganza lights up Palm Springs with steamy pool parties, signature cocktails, and DJ-spun dance nights at venues throughout Palm Springs. Wear white and dress (or undress) to impress. 

Star Party at the Monument

May 13 / The International Space Station may not be accepting tourists yet, but you can explore the skies with your feet firmly planted on the ground at the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center

Forward Motion

May 13 / Sip craft beer in downtown Indio while jamming to cover band Forward Motion during the city’s free Second Saturdays gathering. The five-member group puts its spin on Top 40, funk, and R&B favorites from the 1970s to today; the event includes local food vendors and family activities. 

The Fab Four

May 13 / “Come Together” at Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage to see The Fab Four’s tribute to The Beatles, complete with costume changes and note-for-note renditions of treasured songs like “Hey Jude” and “Yesterday.” 

Pucks in Paradise

May 15–17 / Amateur hockey players age 21 to 55 can form a team and sign up to compete for the top spot in this friendly tournament at Acrisure Arena. Off the ice, enjoy social events like a pool party, cocktail reception, and golf scramble. 

Chamber of Commerce Joint Mixer

May 17 / Business owners and professionals will have the opportunity to network with more than 600 attendees and see historic aircraft at this mega mixer at the Palm Springs Air Museum

Jessica Kaczmarek Band

May 17 / Multi-instrumentalist Jessica Kaczmarek cut her teeth as a member of the backing band for Spongebob Squarepants voice actor Tom Kenny, who often sings during live shows. Kaczmarek now fronts her own group and will play blues tunes at Agua Caliente Casino Palm Springs

The Girl Can’t Help It

May 17 / As part of its alfresco film series at the Downtown Palm Springs Park, the Palm Springs Cultural Center hosts a free screening of this 1956 musical. Jayne Mansfield leads as a mobster’s girlfriend; Tom Ewell plays the down-on-his-luck agent hired to make her a singing star. 


Aaron Lewis plays Spotlight 29 on May 18.

Aaron Lewis

May 18 / The founder of multiplatinum metal band Staind, Aaron Lewis pivoted to country music and wound up with a No. 1 country album on the Billboard charts. He has collaborated with Willie Nelson, Charlie Daniels, and Vince Gill. Now, he’s bringing his acoustic tour to Spotlight 29 Casino in Coachella

Peter Samelson

May 18–20 / Co-founder of the Big Apple’s longest-running off-Broadway magic show, Peter Samelson brings his breathtaking illusions to Marvyn’s Magic Theater in La Quinta.

Ali Macofsky

May 19 / Fresh off a run as the opening act for Grammy-winning musician St. Vincent, comedian Ali Macofsky brings her signature brand of sardonic, surprising humor to Agua Caliente Casino Palm Springs

Ice Cube

May 19 / The legendary rapper, actor, producer, and activist drops beats and rhymes at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio

Pacifico Dance Company

May 19 / Pacifico Dance Company showcases the cultural dress and folk dance styles of Mexico in this vibrant performance at the McCallum Theatre.

Po’ Ramblin Boys

May 19 / Equipped with a fiddle, mandolin, banjo, and American roots music’s signature smoky twang, this Tennessee-based quintet plays up-tempo bluegrass tunes at Palm Springs Cultural Center


May 20 / Formed in 1987, Mexico City–based band Caifanes gained fame for their blend of Latin percussion with sounds inspired by British rockers like The Beatles and The Cure. See them at Acrisure Arena

Improv Workshop

May 20 / Theatre 29’s resident improvisational comedy troupe teaches aspiring actors how to “yes, and” their way through an off-the-cuff scene in Twentynine Palms. No experience necessary — you’ll learn the basics with a series of fun improv games. 

The Laurie Morvan Band

May 24 / Dueling solos between guitarist Laurie Morvan and her quick-paced keyboardist, Tom Salyers, add even more heat to the band’s blazing blues show at Agua Caliente Casino Palm Springs

Chipper Lowell

May 25–27 / Hilarious magician Chipper Lowell has performed for William Shatner, Denzel Washington, Emily Blunt, and a host of other celebs. Add your name to this illustrious list of past audience members at Marvyn’s Magic Theater in La Quinta.

Jerry Garcia

May 26 / San Diego Comedy Festival contest winner Jerry Garcia riffs on life as the father of three boys at Agua Caliente Casino Palm Springs

Stars on Ice

May 26 / Calling everyone who tunes in to the Winter Olympics solely for the figure skating competition: The sport’s biggest stars, including gold medalist Nathan Chen, stop by Acrisure Arena to lutz, loop, and axel across the ice. 


Russell Peters will play Agua Caliente Rancho Mirage on May 27. 

Russell Peters

May 27 / Recently named one of Rolling Stone’s “50 Best Comics of All Time,” Emmy winner Russell Peters has captured attention in numerous stand-up specials. Before catching his set at Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage, stream his previous specials on Netflix. 

Memorial Day Air Fair & Flower Drop

May 29 / More than 3,000 red and white carnations descend from a CH-47 war helicopter in honor of fallen members of the American military at Palm Springs Air Museum’s annual flower drop. The event also includes food, activities, and flight exhibitions.

Shania Twain

May 31 / Let’s go, girls. The voice behind the bestselling country album of all time (1997’s Come on Over) sings “You’re Still the One,” “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!”, and other favorites at Acrisure Arena

Emily Rose & The Rounders

May 31 / Drawing upon classic country influences including Dwight Yoakam and Patsy Cline, Los Angeles–based outfit Emily Rose & The Rounders bring their nuanced sound to Agua Caliente Casino Palm Springs. 

Funny Face

May 31 / The Palm Springs Cultural Center presents this beloved 1957 musical rom-com beneath the stars at the Downtown Palm Springs Park. Audrey Hepburn stars opposite Fred Astaire as a shy bookshop manager turned fashion model. 

Desert X

Through May 7 / This biennial exhibition dots the desert with site-specific installations by major art-world names, including Bangladeshi sculptor Rana Begum, Illinois–born Torkwase Dyson, and Anza–based Cahuilla artist Gerald Clarke. 

Phillip K. Smith III

Through May 7 / Palm Desert resident Phillip K. Smith III fills four galleries at Palm Springs Art Museum with objects and installations inspired by the unique quality of light in the California desert. 

Artists Council Young Artists Exhibition

Through May 21 / View artwork by talented students from 14 high schools in the Coachella Valley centering on the theme of “Truth” at the Artists Center at The Galen in Palm Desert. 

American Framing

Through July 2 / The Architecture and Design Center in Palm Springs brings attention to the subtle architectural genius of wood framing through models, photos, furniture, and a full-scale structure. 

Tajh Rust

Through July 16 / In his Outburst Project exhibition at Palm Springs Art Museum, Tajh Rust presents portraits of Black individuals from Brazil, Senegal, and New York. The intimate works invite viewers to wonder what emotions prompt the subjects’ contemplative expressions. 

Super Bloom

May 5–7 / Inspired by spring in the Coachella Valley, this exhibition at Desert Art Center in Palm Springs showcases paintings of wildflowers, cactuses, and other desert flora. Attend the opening reception May 5, from 5 to 7 p.m., to get an early look at the artwork and mingle with some of the talented local artists. 

For more events, check out our calendar.