50 Things to Do in October

This month brings a jam-packed agenda from Modernism Week Fall Preview to Sting to the Palm Desert Golf Car Parade.

Emily Chavous Attractions, Current Guide

Sting and Shaggy combine their bands for an October concert.

As the heat wanes, the arts come alive in the desert. This month, immerse yourself with tours of swank midcentury estates and artists’ private studios. October brings a jam-packed agenda, so fuel up with one of fall’s favorite comfort meals and start planning that schedule.

1. GO: Modernism Week Fall Preview

Oct. 18–21

For those who can’t wait until February for Modernism Week to hit town, its sibling, Modernism Week Fall Preview, is right around the corner and this year expands to four full days. “We have a great time planning the Fall Preview,” says Mod Week executive director Lisa Vossler Smith, who estimates the design festival will see about 10,000 attendees. “We have an opportunity to work with partner organizations and homeowners to plan more intimate events that are more suitable for smaller crowds.”



See Frank Sinatra’s Twin Palms estate and its famous piano-shaped pool during one of six 30-minute tours Oct. 18.

Addenda to interior home tours and design-centric showings from H3K and Christopher Kennedy are “Nod to Mod” concept dinners produced by PS Underground; a brand-new event at the House of Galanos benefiting the Mizell Center; and the Casual Concours X classic car show put on by Great Autos of Yesteryear. “Fall Preview offers easy access to our top-notch architectural tours and programs throughout the valley,” Vossler Smith adds. Perfect weather doesn’t hurt either.

—Tienlyn Jacobson

2. EXPLORE: Carrizo Canyon Ecological Preserve

Oct. 1 / The ecological preserve’s opening day kicks off with an easy docent-led hike into the canyon.

3. SEE: Scraps: Fashion, Textiles, and Creative Reuse

Oct. 1–Jan. 14 / Showcasing three sustainable collections created with recycled fabrics, the Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center exhibition demonstrates the versatility of scrap materials within a zero-waste design world.

4. GROOVE: Conor Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band with Phoebe Bridgers

Oct. 4 / Post–Bright Eyes, singer Conor Oberst fled to Mexico and ultimately formed a new recording group, Conor Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band. They play with opening act Phoebe Bridgers at Pappy and Harriet’s in Pioneertown.



Joshua Tree Music Festival includes artists from as far as Austria.

5. GO: Joshua Tree Music Festival

Oct. 4–7 / For festivalgoers seeking a dreamy desert campout full of eclectic global beats, Joshua Tree Music Festival is the model gathering. With approximately 2,500 attendees, it’s small enough that it still feels indie and intimate yet big enough that you can slink away anonymously in the crowd. An emphasis on family fun and overall well-being includes special programs for kids, yoga and healing sessions, art installations, and a marketplace brimming with local artisan vendors and farm-fresh eats (with plenty of vegan options, too). The lineup includes artists from as far as Austria and as close as the Coachella Valley — rising names you’ll be able to say you heard first here.

6. LISTEN: Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman

Oct. 5 / Hollywood power couple Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman (best known for roles in Will & Grace and Parks and Recreation, respectively) get personal during the Palm Springs Speaks series with “an oral history” of their 20-year relationship onstage at the Richards Center for the Arts.

7. WATCH: Into the Woods

Oct. 5–6, 12–13, & 19–20 / Indio Performing Arts Center presents a local version of the acclaimed musical Into the Woods, interweaving the stories of several Brothers Grimm fairy tales.

8. GROOVE: Actual Wolf

Oct. 5 / Hark back to the deadhead days with an intoxicating blend of outlaw-style strings and rhythmic vocals as Actual Wolf takes the stage at Pappy and Harriet’s.

9. WATCH: The Sugar Witch

Oct. 5–28 / Rancho Mirage’s LGBTQ theater company, Desert Rose Playhouse, enacts a Southern gothic tale about a family curse and a murder.

10. GROOVE: Chicago

Oct. 6 / The iconic 1970s American soft-rock band performs a selection of chart toppers at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio.


Chicago will perform hits from five decades of music.

11. SHOP: Palm Springs Vintage Market

Oct. 7 / Head to the Palm Springs Cultural Center for the season’s first vintage market, awash in antiques, furnishings, and

12. EAT: Wexler’s Deli

Oct. 9 / DTLA’s popular Wexler’s Deli expands with its first location outside Greater Los Angeles at Arrive Palm Springs. Try all the classics on their opening day, from house-smoked pastrami on rye to lox-loaded bagels.

13. GO: Out PS — A Kickoff to Pride

Oct. 11 / The official Greater Palm Springs Pride pre-party at El Mirador Plaza features culinary tastings and cocktails from area restaurants. Ticket proceeds help to keep Pride festivities (Nov. 1–4) free to the public.

14. GO: Official Latino Short Film Festival

Oct. 11–14 / Launched in response to the lack of Latino representation in Hollywood, this bicoastal festival with film screenings in New York and Coachella happens locally at the Coachella Library.

GROOVE: Sting and Shaggy

Oct. 12 / This unlikely musical duo teamed up to record the song “Don’t Make Me Wait,” which debuted earlier this year at No. 1 on Billboard’s digital reggae singles chart — then they recorded a full album together. Their tour makes a stop at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa in Rancho Mirage.

16. WALK: Paint El Paseo Pink

Oct. 13 / Walk for breast cancer awareness (and wear pink!) at Desert Cancer Foundation’s yearly fundraiser in Palm Desert. The route is approximately 2 miles round trip, with activities and live music at The Gardens on El Paseo.

17. GO: La Gran Fiesta

Oct. 13 / This fiesta at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert highlights Hispanic culture with live music and dancing and aims to bring light to the critically endangered vaquita (a species of porpoise) endemic to the northern part of the Gulf of California. The first 1,000 guests will receive a free pepper plant grown at the park.

18. SEE: Hwy 62 Open Studio Art Tours

Oct. 13–14 & 20–21 / Take a self-guided tour of private artist studios in the Morongo Basin during Hwy 62 Open Studio Art Tours. For additional details, flip to p. 18.



View artists like Lisa Manifold at the Highway 62 Open Art Tours.

19. GO: Art Is Here Block Party

Oct. 14 / A small arts festival at the Palm Springs Art Museum, the block party includes hands-on crafting activities, art activations, and an opportunity to learn more about the city’s public art projects. Plus, every second Sunday museum admission is free, so stick around and check out some of the exhibitions.

20. GROOVE: Willie Nelson

Oct. 15 / Having earned every conceivable award as a musician and amassed reputable credentials as an author, actor, and activist, Willie Nelson is on the road again. His tour touches down at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert.

21. GO: Business Expo & Taste of Palm Springs

Oct. 16 / The Palm Springs Chamber’s local business and culinary event at the storied Colony 29 venue features more than 100 local vendors showcasing their services and wares, plus tastings from over 30 area restaurants and — bien sûr — wine, beer, cocktails, and live entertainment.

22. WATCH: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Oct. 18–21 / Palm Canyon Theatre in Palm Springs presents its version of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. First staged in 1962, the play examines middle-aged marital angst.

23. SHOP: Palm Springs Modernism Show & Sale: Fall Edition

Oct. 19–21 / The Show & Sale returns to the Convention Center to feature 40 premier furniture and art dealers representing all design movements of the 20th century. Visit the Palm Springs Life booth (No. 500) to browse collectors’ prints and exclusive merchandise.

24. GO: Borrego Days Festival

Oct. 19–21 / For 53 years, a growing number of people have converged upon the vast, open desert of Borrego Springs for this season-opening festival (today, attendance numbers are in the thousands). There’s an air show, a parade, a lineup of local bands, and the festivities continue well after dark.

25. WALK: Desert AIDS Walk

Oct. 20 / More than 2,000 walkers and 100 volunteers participate in the annual Desert AIDS Walk, benefiting Desert AIDS Project, at Ruth Hardy Park in Palm Springs.

26. GO: Tacos, Tequila, & Chavelas Festival

Oct. 20 / Load up on homemade tacos and handcrafted chavelas at the first annual Tacos, Tequila, & Chavelas Festival at Veterans Memorial Park in Coachella, where more than 15 taco vendors will vie for the “Best of Festival” title.

27. SEE: Artists Council Exhibition

Oct. 20–Dec. 9 / Creations by more than 50 artists will be on display (and available for purchase) at Palm Springs Art Museum for the annual juried Artists Council Exhibition. Winners will be announced at a free-to-the-public awards program and artists’ reception Oct. 27.

28. SEE: Exodo

Oct. 21–Nov. 30 / This interactive installation by Porfirio Gutiérrez and Ricardo Palavecino at Palm Springs Art Museum works to capture the value of indigenous communities currently living in California through workshops, screenings, and weaving demonstrations.

29. GO: Family Fun Day

Oct. 21 / McCallum Theatre’s Family Fun Day features an afternoon full of food, festivities, and performance — the kids will love Erth’s Prehistoric Aquarium Adventure, an immersive dino-themed production.

30. GROOVE: Mariachi Under the Stars

Oct. 21 / Grammy nominee Ezequiel Peña, a veritable force of mariachi and banda music, headlines the sixth annual Mariachi Under the Stars concert at Augustine Casino in Coachella. The festive event features traditional Mexican entertainment and local food vendors.

31. GO: Desert Hot Springs Pride

Oct. 21 / Desert Hot Springs presents its second annual Pride festival at Cabot’s Pueblo Museum, put on by local nonprofit DiversityDHS. Expect a full day of dancing, performances, arts, and exhibitors.

32. GO: Rancho Mirage Chamber Block Party

Oct. 23 / Mingle with the locals at this free chamber event with nine grilling vendors, a beer and wine garden, a kids’ zone hosted by Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert, a pet adoption fair, a live DJ, and giveaways including a three-day cruise.

33. GROOVE: Christina Aguilera

Oct. 24 / Following the June 2018 release of Liberation, her first album in six years, Christina Aguilera’s national tour touches down for a performance at Fantasy Springs.

34. WATCH: Lebensraum

Oct. 24–Nov. 18 / What if, as an act of redemption, a German chancellor invited 6 million Jews to Germany and offered them citizenship and jobs? Lebensraum, written by Israel Horovitz and first staged in 1998, explores the Holocaust’s effects on contemporary culture through fable. See the production at Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre in Rancho Mirage.

35. GO: Palm Springs Leather Pride

Oct. 25–28 / It’s one of the longest-running and most successful leather-fetish festivals in the country, complete with clothing-optional pool parties, formal (read: leather or military uniform) cocktail soirées, and, of course, the annual Mr. Palm Springs Leather contest. palmspringsleather

36. WATCH: Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games

Oct. 26 / Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games fuses dance, acrobatics, music, and cutting-edge technology. The spectacle of a performance takes over the stage at Fantasy Springs.

37. WATCH: This Filthy World

Oct. 26 / John Waters’ one-man show delves into the director’s personal fascination with true crime, exploitation films, fashion lunacy, and the extremes of sexual politics. Part of the Outlandish Palm Springs performance series at Palm Springs Cultural Center.



John Waters

38. GROOVE: REO Speedwagon

Oct. 26 / Sing along to throwback favorites like “Keep on Loving You,” “Take It on the Run,” and “In Your Letter” when REO Speedwagon performs at Spotlight 29.

39. WATCH: Tyler Henry

Oct. 26 / Tyler Henry, a 22-year-old clairvoyant from central California, landed his own E! reality show at the age of 19. The series, Hollywood Medium With Tyler Henry, documents the personal readings he conducts for various celebrities (the Kardashians, Bobby Brown, and Megan Fox among his clientele). Skeptical? Hear his story and step up to the mic during the audience Q&A at Morongo Casino Resort & Spa. 

40. EXPLORE: Palm Springs Aerial Tram Road Challenge

Oct. 27 / An average 1,500 participants, age 5 to 95, test their grit each year by trekking up the paved Tram Way road. Beginning at an elevation of 400 feet, the 6K takes runners and walkers to a finish line at the lower tram station, sited at about 2,600 feet. Buses will be available to take you down the hill after the race.

41. GO: Howl-O-Ween

Oct. 27–31 / Bring the kiddos to The Living Desert for Howl-O-Ween, a “not-so-spooky zoo adventure” with trick-or-treating and autumnal activity stations. Don’t forget to dress up!

42. SEE: Unsettled

Oct. 27–April 30 / Palm Springs Art Museum presents a sweeping exhibition of contemporary art featuring more than 75 artists living or working in the Greater West. Unsettled looks to the future while also honoring the past and those who created cultures and places millennia before the area was declared “unsettled.”

43. GO: Chili Cook-Off and Car Show

Oct. 27 / It’s volunteer versus volunteer at the Palm Springs Air Museum as docents compete for most flavorful chili at the annual Halloween-themed Chili Cook-Off and Car Show. Tastings are $1 each (or six for $5). Between bites, ogle the fleet of more than 100 classic vehicles on display.

44. Groove: Jesika von Rabbit with Jason Lee and The R.I.P. Tides

Oct. 27 / San Diego surf rockers Jason Lee and The R.I.P. Tides open for Joshua Tree’s own Jesika von Rabbit (who dropped an album last month) at Pappy and Harriet’s. Get there early and order Rabbit’s namesake nachos, a creation all her own loaded with bleu cheese and pico de gallo.

45. GROOVE: Classic Albums Live

Oct. 27 / This group of acclaimed Canadian musicians presents a re-creation of Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon, note for note in its entirety, sans costumes, impersonations, or gimmickry.

46. GROOVE: Toby Keith

Oct. 27 / Grab your Stetson. The country music giant’s bringing his “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” tour to Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa.

47. GO: Día de los Muertos

Oct. 28 / Palm Springs Art Museum celebrates Day of the Dead with autumn-themed activities, interactive workshops, special performances, and docent-led tours.



Jesika von Rabbit

48. GO: Golf Cart Parade

Oct. 28 / Scores of decorated golf carts and marching bands take over El Paseo in Palm Desert during the city’s annual Golf Cart Parade. Launched in the 1960s as a cheeky neighborhood production, it became a yearly event in the ’80s and now draws more than 15,000 onlookers along with coverage from media outlets as far as the Philippines.



The Palm Desert Golf Cart Parade has been an annual event since the 1980s.

49. WATCH: National Sunshine Series

Oct. 31–Nov. 4 and Nov. 7–11 / The National Sunshine Series at HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal is among the richest equestrian grands prix in the world, with a purse of more than $1 million for hunters and jumpers. Spectators can grab lunch in the upscale pavilion or at the bar and grill and then find a comfortable seat ringside on the berms.

50. GO: Halloween Palm Springs

Oct. 31 / Halloween festivities along Arenas Road always get turnt. This year’s lineup features Debby Holiday, Keisha D, DJ Phil B, and everyone’s favorite local emcee, Bella da Ball. Dress to impress for your chance to win more than $1,000 in cash and prizes.