BNP Tennis

55 Things to Do in March

Between the BNP Paribas Open, Fashion Week El Paseo, and Palm Desert Food & Wine, this month is brimming with signature events.

Emily Chavous Foster Attractions, Current Guide

BNP Tennis
A scene from the 2018 BNP Paribas Open.

1. GO
BNP Paribas Open / March 4–17

Having signed a five-year extension with title sponsor BNP Paribas last year, the WTA and ATP world tour tournament unofficially touted as the sport’s fifth grand slam returns to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden March 4–17.

More than 450,000 people attend the two-week event to watch the greats battle it out for almost $16 million in prize money. The lushly landscaped venue has seen continued upgrades since its 2000 debut that push the boundaries of traditional sporting facilities — open-air plazas where you’re likely to rub elbows with players, state-of-the-art suites, and concessions that beat out off-site dining options.

All ticket holders have access to award-winning Japanese eats at Nobu, overlooking Stadium 2, as well as pop-up restaurants by local favorites Piero’s PizzaVino and Wally’s Desert Turtle. Spectators with Stadium 1 tickets can also get a table at Wolfgang Puck’s critically acclaimed Spago or try the loaded hot dogs at Dave’s Doghouse, helmed by two-Michelin-starred chef Josiah Citrin.

BNP Tennis
A scene from the 2018 BNP Paribas Open

The event kicks off early (March 2) with Kids Day, a free afternoon at the Tennis Garden featuring clinics, wildlife encounters, and player appearances. Admission to qualifying matches March 4 and 5 is also free. On March 8, a special Salute to Heroes ceremony recognizing veterans and service members immediately follows the first evening session match on Stadium 1. Finals take place March 17.         

2. GO — Desert X / Through April 21

Strange and wonderful curiosities appear across the Coachella Valley and down to the Salton Sea as the second iteration of Desert X unfolds. Bring your camera and make a day of it.

3. GROOVE — Michael McDonald / March 1

Most famous as a vocalist for the Doobie Brothers, Michael McDonald has also performed and collaborated with Van Halen, Aretha Franklin, and Kenny Loggins. The five-time Grammy winner plays Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio.

4. GROOVE — Toni Braxton / March 1

This R&B icon’s solo ascent started with her 1993 eponymous album and involved collaborations with giants L.A. Reid and Babyface. Her tour stops at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa in Rancho Mirage.

5. WATCH — Stomp / March 1–2

If you ever repurposed saucepans as a drum set you’ll appreciate the musical genius of Stomp, in which performers fashion everyday objects into percussion instruments. Spirited beats combine with acrobatics and dance for a show at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert.

White Guy on the Bus / March 1–10

Local theater company Dezart Performs takes on this gutsy drama about race relations and the complicated friendship between a wealthy white man and a single black mother who meet while riding the bus. See it at Palm Springs’ Pearl McManus Theater.

7. SEE
Desertscapes / March 1–21

Paint dabs in colors ranging from earthy to explosive create familiar landscapes in this exhibition by plein air painter Cynthia Rosen, on view at Desert Art Collection in Palm Desert.

Waxahatchee and Bonny Doon / March 2

Katie Crutchfield named her musical project, Waxahatchee, after a river in her native Alabama. The singer-songwriter headlines a show at Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneertown with “cosmic American” openers Bonny Doon.



Katie Crutchfield

9. Go — Zoobilee Gala  / March 2

G’day, mate! Aussie experiences abound at The Living Desert Zoo and Garden’s “Party in the Outback,” where entertainment, auctions, animal encounters, and culinary excellence combine in a major fundraising event celebrating the zoo’s upcoming Australian habitats.

10. GROOVE — Grooves at The Westin / March 2

Craig Chaquico, former lead guitarist of Jefferson Starship, performs smooth jazz standards (including “Just One World,” which plays in orbit around Earth as part of NASA’s Ark Project) at The Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa in Rancho Mirage.

11. GROOVE— Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons / March 2

Their meteoric rise in the 1960s is well-documented in Broadway’s Jersey Boys, but “Big Girls Don’t Cry” was a classic long before any jukebox musical. The original Jersey Boys make an appearance at Fantasy Springs.

Jerry Seinfeld / March 2

Seinfeld’s sitcom (and instantly recognizable synth-bass theme) still get traction on TV and the internet, but nowadays the funnyman is revisiting his stand-up roots. Catch his set at Agua Caliente Casino.

Jerry Seinfeld


Jerry Seinfeld

13. GO — Coachella Valley Wildflower Festival / March 2

This free festival highlights the desert during its (arguably) most beautiful time: spring when wildflowers transform the Coachella Valley into a vibrant riot of yellows, purples, and pinks. Typically held in the flora-dappled foothills of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, the event this year will instead take place at Palm Desert Civic Center Park due to the record-breaking government shutdown and forced closure (and ensuing cleanup) of national parks.

14. GO — Art in the Square Chalk Festival / March 2–3

A strip of Miles Avenue between Oasis and Smurr streets in Indio becomes a massive canvas for extraordinary works of chalk art. Explore the “gallery” while enjoying food, refreshments, and live entertainment.

15. GROOVE — The Limeliters and The Brothers Four / March 3

Folk favorites team up for a double feature at the McCallum, playing standbys like “A Dollar Down” and “Greenfields.”

16. MOVE — Desert Triathlon / March 3

Talk about a full-body workout! Swim, bike, and run your way to the finish in this scenic race through La Quinta’s Lake Cahuilla Recreation Area.

17. GROOVE — Pablo Sáinz Villegas / March 4

The Spanish guitarist takes McCallum audiences on a journey through the guitar’s ever-shifting repertoire across the Americas, from the sensual sounds of Brazil to the bright twang of Appalachia’s bluegrass.

18. GO — The Art of Shopping / March 4–5

Seeking one-of-a-kind wearables? Look no further than this event at Hyatt Palm Springs, where 40 studio artists will offer handmade jewelry, apparel, and accessories.

19. GROOVE — Neil Berg’s 50 Years of Rock and Roll / March 5–6

A half-century of iconic rock, from Buddy Holly to Billy Joel, takes over the McCallum for a matinée and two evening performances.

20. WATCH — Rhapsody in Blue / March 7

Oregon Ballet Theatre performs an expressive interpretation of Gershwin’s composition at the McCallum.

21. GO — La Quinta Arts Festival / March 7–10

Glass sculptures, abstract paintings, and other works of art line the grassy berms of La Quinta Civic Center Campus at this festival featuring 220 artists.

22. LAUGH — Terry Fator / March  8

When Terry Fator won America’s Got Talent in 2007 and went home with $1 million, he didn’t share a dime with his costars — they’re all puppets. See the ventriloquist and 15 of his funny (but faux) friends perform celebrity impressions at Fantasy Springs.

23. GROOVE — The Irish Rovers / March 8

The accordion-laced tunes of this Toronto-based, Irish-born band offer McCallum audiences a taste of the Emerald Isle.

24. GO — Native FilmFest / March 8–9

Indigenous filmmakers shine at this festival celebrating films by, about, and starring Native Americans, now in its 18th year. Panel discussions offer audiences at the Mary Pickford theater in Cathedral City an opportunity to learn more about the artists’ inspirations and processes.

25. WATCH — Hairspray / March 8–24

Desert Theatreworks presents its rendition of the 1980s movie and ensuing Tony Award-winning musical at the Indio Performing Arts Center.

26. LISTEN — Early Desert Modernists / March 9

James Glisson, interim curator of American Art at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in Pasadena, California, examines the works of modernist artists Henrietta Shore, Agnes Pelton, and Helen Lundeberg and their role in the “Smoketree School” in a discussion at Desert Art Center in Palm Springs.

27. GROOVE — Julio Iglesias / March 9

History’s best-selling Spanish singer revives the top love songs from his 60 studio-album discography at Fantasy Springs.

28. WATCH — Wiesenthal / March 9

UC Riverside’s Palm Desert campus hosts a performance of this riveting one-man play based on the true story of concentration camp survivor and Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, who worked for decades to identify and bring to justice more than 1,100 Nazi war criminals.

29. MOVE — Superhero 5K Run / 1K Walk / March 9

Being a superhero for shelter animals doesn’t require knowing how to fly, but you’re welcome to don a cape for this day of fitness and fundraising at the Rancho Mirage Community Park.

Bravo Amici / March 11

Elton John is a fan of this classical-crossover opera band. Find out if you agree when they perform at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert.

Bravo Amici


Bravo Amici

31. WATCH — Chess / March 13–31

Former ABBA members Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson composed the music for this rock opera about love and politics at a high-stakes international chess match. Hear the score and watch the story unfold at Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre’s new location (a former IMAX) in Cathedral City.

32. WATCH — Mystic India / March 14

Bollywood makes its way to the McCallum in this dance spectacular packed with vibrant traditional costumes and elaborate sets.

33. WATCH — Proof / March 14

Desert Ensemble Theatre Company presents this Pulitzer-winning drama about mathematics and mental illness at the Pearl McManus Theatre in Palm Springs.

34. WATCH —
Monty Python’s Spamalot
/March 15–17

This adaption of the 1975 movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail riffs on classic film and Broadway scenes in typical Python style. Complete with flying cows, killer rabbits, and actual Spam, the irreverent rendition of the legend of King Arthur was met with mixed reactions from former Monty Python players but raving reviews from critics. Experience the three-time Tony winner at the McCallum.



Monty Python's Spamalot

35. GO — Heritage Festival / March 16

The Coachella Valley History Museum in Indio celebrates the desert’s diverse cultures, craftspeople, and cuisine with this festival chronicling the contributions of indigenous peoples and early settlers.

36. TASTE — Food Truck Mash-Up / March 16

The history of the food truck dates back to the 1800s and the “chuckwagons” that once fed cowboys during long stretches of herding. Now, they’re an integral part of the street food scene and serve up everything from lobster rolls to macarons. Get your fix when the USA Today Network brings its foodie fair to Cathedral City’s Town Square Park.

37. GO — Palm Springs Chalk Art Festival / March 16

Museum Way in Palm Springs transforms into a cheerful “chalk walk” with temporary works by professional artists and local students.



Fashion Week El Paseo hits the runway starting March 16 for eight nights in Palm Desert.

38. GO — Fashion Week El Paseo / MARCH 16-24

Designers who have dressed such A-listers as Gwyneth Paltrow and Kim Kardashian send styles down the 100-foot catwalk at the country’s largest direct-to-consumer runway event. Shows range from former Project Runway competitors to red-carpet favorite Gustavo Cadile to Lela Rose.

39. WATCH — Capturing the Impossible / March 18

This interactive National Geographic presentation at the McCallum takes audiences beyond the iconic yellow border and behind the scenes with extreme filmmaker Bryan Smith, whose adventures have taken him from the wilds of Papua New Guinea to Niagara Falls.

40. GROOVE — Matthew Morrison / March 21

Fans of a certain Fox Network show about a squad of singing high schoolers will be Glee-ful upon learning of star Matthew Morrison’s appearance at the McCallum Theatre. The actor and singer performs alongside the local Desert Symphony.

41. GROOVE — Cold Cave / March 21

Born without his left hand, Wesley Eisold turned to vocals and electronic beats as a means of expressing his musical inclinations. Immerse in his band Cold Cave’s synth-y darkwave sound at Pappy & Harriet’s. Detroit duo Adult and post-punk group Sextile open.

42. WATCH — Shakespeare in Love / March 21–24

All those sonnets had to be inspired by someone. This play (based on the acclaimed 1998 movie) imagines an ardent love affair between the bard and a wealthy merchant’s daughter. Watch the tale unfold at Palm Canyon Theatre in Palm Springs.

43. GROOVE — Kristin Chenoweth / March 22

The Wicked star moves effortlessly between screen and stage — and has the Emmy and Tony awards to prove it. Hear her best-loved songs at the McCallum.

 — Creedence Clearwater Revisited
/March 22

Stu Cook and Cosmo Clifford, founding members of the band behind such hits as “Proud Mary” and “Down on the Corner,” bring old favorites to Fantasy Springs.



Creedence Clearwater Revisited

 — Palm Desert Food & Wine / March 22–24

More than 30 local and celebrity chefs, including Food Network stars Scott Conant, Antonia Lofaso, and Fabio Viviani, descend upon The Gardens on El Paseo for this three-day culinary experience. Hungry? Reserve your tickets for the chef demonstrations, food and drink tastings, and exclusive auxiliary events now.

 — Greater Tuna / March 22–31

Two male actors play a revolving cast of 20 eccentric characters in this comedy that simultaneously celebrates and satirizes small-town Southern life. Take a trip to the fictional town of Tuna, Texas, at the Annenberg Theater in Palm Springs.

47. GO
 — Rancho Mirage Artists Studio Tour and Pop-Up Gallery / March 23

Local artists offer visitors the chance to peek inside their private studios. Pick up the official guidebook, and see the accompanying pop-up gallery, at Rancho Mirage Public Library.

 — An Evening With Groucho / March 28

Vogue called Frank Ferrante’s portrayal of the legendary Marx brother “uncanny,” and even Groucho’s daughter has given him glowing reviews. Catch the acclaimed comedy act at the McCallum.

49. SEE
 — Metamorphosis / March 28–April 12

Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert hosts this juried exhibition, presented by the local Artists Council organization and showcasing artwork that conveys transformation and possibility.

 — The Illusionists / March 29

The world’s best-selling magic tour, featuring six illusionists, appears on the Fantasy Springs stage for a night of death-defying stunts and mind-boggling tricks.



The Illusionists

51. GO
 — Indian Wells Arts Festival / March 29–31

The Indian Wells Tennis Garden transforms into an artisan village for this annual arts festival, now in its 17th year. Regularly ranked among the 100 best fine art shows in the country by Sunshine Artist magazine, the event hosts 200 contemporary and traditional artists from around the world who vie for awards in 31 categories, sell their work, and showcase their skills in live demonstrations.

52. GO
 — American Documentary Film Festival / March 29–April 4

Attention anyone who has exhausted the documentary category on Netflix: Scoop up tickets for this fantastic fest, which brings more than 170 thought-provoking films to theaters in Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, and Palm Desert. Past honoree attendees include George Takei, Oliver Stone, and Shia LaBeouf.

53. GROOVE — 
Savion Glover’s All Funkd’ Up / March 30

Tony Award-winning tapper Savion Glover fronts a team of dancers who break it down to a six-piece band on the McCallum Theatre stage.

 — Hwang Chi-yeul / March 31

This K-pop singer appeared on the “mystery music game show” I Can See Your Voice in 2015 and has since become one of Korea’s most prominent celebrities. Hear him live at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa.

 — The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain / March 31

Eight ukuleles, 32 strings, and a seemingly endless repertoire of impressive covers (from Lady Gaga to classic film scores) make this McCallum Theatre show a must-see.