oasis music festival palm springs

42 Things to Do in May

The inaugural Oasis Music Festival brings music back to the historic Plaza Theatre, participate in a Lip Sync Contest for a good cause, and Pioneertown is the setting for a new film festival.

Amelia Rodriguez Attractions, Current Guide

oasis music festival palm springs

Jake Smith, aka The White Buffalo, headlines the Oasis Music Festival, May 11-15, at the historic Plaza Theatre.

Oasis Music Festival: May 11–15

Jake Smith is learning how to write happy songs. “Darkness was an easier place for me to go,” he says, reflecting on his 22-year career as singer-songwriter The White Buffalo. “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been able to create stuff that shows that positive light — I’m not concerned with being ‘too soft.’”

Smith first picked up a guitar at 19 after a lifetime attending country and punk shows. He started writing his own music immediately, plucking out two-chord precursors to the raw, moving tracks heard across his six studio albums. “[Because] I never learned how to play guitar from somebody else, everything I create really comes from melody and story.” 


Giselle Woo of Giselle Woo & The Night Owls perform May 14.


The Milk Carton Kids hit the stage May 12.

A devoted fanbase has followed Smith along his ever-pivoting creative path, tuning in as he adds love songs and fresh sounds, like the synth notes present on his forthcoming album. 

At Oasis Music Festival this month, he plans to show audience members his dimensionality. “A lot of people would approach the festival setting with all up-tempo [tracks],” he says. “But I always try to mix it up. There are some aggressive songs [and some] ballads, heart-wrenching stuff.”

Smith’s chameleon approach to music makes him a perfect match for the multigenre model of this inaugural citywide festival. Ticketholders will gather at more than 30 spots throughout Palm Springs to see sets that scratch the itch for everything from jazz to yacht rock. Can’t-miss acts include soul group Lee Fields & The Expressions and local Latin rock stars Giselle Woo & The Night Owls.

Smith hopes to catch indie-folk duo The Milk Carton Kids — and hit up his favorite vintage shops in Palm Springs. “Just getting some sun and fun,” he enthuses.

It’s a Schuur Thing: May 1

Vocalist Diane Schuur flexes her perfect pitch memory alongside Coachella Valley Symphony at Annenberg Theater in Palm Springs. Schuur, who is blind, learned to play piano by ear as a child. cvsymphony.com

In the Company of Sondheim: May 1

Soprano Natalie Mann demonstrates the vocal chops that nabbed her the role of Christine in College of the Desert’s production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera. In this show at Arthur Newman Theater in Palm Springs, she sings classics by another legendary Broadway composer: Stephen Sondheim. lesmichaels.com

Palm Springs Vintage Market: May 1 

Whether you’re seeking a striking painting for above the dining table, a vintage film camera in great condition, or the perfect pair of retro cutoffs, you’re likely to find that and more at this monthly market at Palm Springs Cultural Center. palmspringsvintagemarket.com

Always Tina: May 4

Tina Turner is simply the best — but this free tribute to the queen of rock ’n’ roll comes in at a close second. Find out what love’s got to do with it at the Palm Springs Downtown Park. visitpalmsprings.com

Pages & Paints: May 4 & 18 

Little Monets and budding Maya Angelous will delight in this event at Desert Hot Springs Library. Kiddos use provided supplies to paint a picture based on their favorite passage from a selected poem or short story. rivlib.net


Paul Draper

Paul Draper: May 5–7 & 12–14

Mentalist and anthropologist Paul Draper shared his expertise in magic history alongside David Copperfield and Teller on the History Channel. Draper’s own tricks take the spotlight in his shows at Marvyn’s Magic Theater in La Quinta. marvynsmagictheater.com

Idyllwild Arts Student Showcase: May 6 

The talented teens attending nearby Idyllwild Arts Academy flaunt their skills in music, dance, theater, film, fashion, the visual arts, and more in this showcase at Melissa Morgan Fine Art in Palm Desert. idyllwildarts.org

El Grito Festival: May 6–7

El Grito — the “shout” or battle cry — commemorates Mexico’s fight for independence from Spain. Join the freedom fiesta with this two-day music festival at Coachella Crossroads. coachellacrossroads.com

May Daze: May 6–7

Reggae, beach rock, and hip-hop musicians perform at Joshua Tree Lake Campground. Bring a tent or RV with room for the whole clan — kids under 10 get in free. instagram.com/the_dub_shack

Steven B. Robbins Foundation Golf Tournament: May 7

Hit the green at Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort in Palm Springs to support scholarships for students whose families have been affected by cancer. Registration includes breakfast, lunch, and a swag bag. sbrfoundation.org

Torch: May 8 

Bonnie Gilgallan takes the stage at Arthur Newman Theatre in Palm Desert, performing classic “torch songs,” tunes that center around lost or unrequited love. lesmichaels.com

Dino & Dinah: May 11

Sip cocktails and catch a high-spirited, midcentury-inspired variety show honoring Dean Martin, Dinah Shore, and their connections to Palm Springs at the city’s historic Camelot Theater. psculturalcenter.org 

Joshua Tree Music Festival: May 12–15 

Joshua Tree Music Festival celebrates its 20th year with a 17-band lineup that includes The California Honeydrops and Cimafunk. The event at Joshua Tree Lake Campground also includes yoga classes, songwriting workshops, and more. joshuatreemusicfestival.com


Tour Bobby Berk’s Casa Tierra estate during Modernism Week, May 12–15.

Modernism Week: May 12–15 

While the longstanding modernism festivities take place in February and October, a few offshoot events happen this month, including a tour of Queer Eye design expert Bobby Berk’s Palm Desert estate and a midcentury mixology workshop at Mr. Lyons in Palm Springs. modernismweek.com

Love Lost & Found: May 15 

Michael Shapiro’s set list of songs traces the highs and lows of romance — from meet-cute to heartbreak — in this show at Arthur Newman Theater. lesmichaels.com

Paint Night at the Brewery: May 18

Drink La Quinta Brewing Co.’s locally crafted ales, porters, and IPAs while painting a masterpiece at the brewery’s Palm Desert taproom. Artist Lauren Avitia walks you through each step of decorating your canvas. instagram.com/c_v_creatives

Third Thursday Soundbath: May 19

Spencer James makes crystal bowls sing out healing sound waves at Yucca Shala in Yucca Valley, helping participants relax, release tension, and deepen their meditation practice. kimtangyoga.com

John Carney: May 19–21 

Sleight-of-hand star John Carney knows his stuff — the magician wrote five books teaching novice conjurers how to wow with their own tricks. He blends illusions and comedy at Marvyn’s Magic Theater in La Quinta. marvynsmagictheater.com

Lady A: May 20 

Former middle school classmates Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood joined forces with Scott’s Myspace friend, Charles Kelley, to form country group Lady A (then known as Lady Antebellum) in 2006. The trio plays hits like “Need You Now” at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio. fantasyspringsresort.com

Lip Sync for a Cure: May 20 

General Hospital star Sean Kanan; his wife, Michele; and other celebs break it down at this lip sync showdown at Palm Springs Cultural Center. Proceeds benefit American Cancer Society Desert Spirit. cancer.org

Rare Books Palm Springs: May 20–21 

Print is not dead. More than 40 rare booksellers from across the country will share their love of books, fine prints, maps, and other ephemera at Hotel Zoso in Palm Springs. rarebooksla.com

Jo Koy & Friends: May 20–22 

Comedian Jo Koy got his start in Las Vegas, where he once rented the Huntridge Theater and drummed up interest in his stand-up routine selling tickets door to door. Koy headlines three side-splitting shows at Agua Caliente Casinos Rancho Mirage. aguacalientecasinos.com

Marieann Meringolo: May 21 

Singer Marieann Meringolo appears at Oscar’s Palm Springs, performing tunes that songwriters Alan and Marilyn Bergman penned for films like Sabrina (1995) and Barbra Streisand’s The Way We Were (1973). oscarspalmsprings.com

A Well-Sung Life: May 22

Musician Allan Jensen takes audiences at Arthur Newman Theater through his autobiography via a soaring selection of Broadway hits (and a few deep cuts) along with Great American Songbook standards. lesmichaels.com


The Last Manhunt premieres May 27 at the Pioneertown Film Festival.

Pioneertown Film Festival: May 27–29

Originally developed in 1946 as a set for cowboy films, the High Desert community of Pioneertown returns to its roots with this major Western cinema celebration. The event features live music, panels, and a party in addition to more than 35 movies and world premieres. Jason Momoa’s The Last Manhunt premieres on opening night. pioneertownfilmfest.com

Cole & Noël & I: May 29

A.J. Freeman sparkles at Arthur Newman Theater, performing favorites by Cole Porter and Noël Coward, beloved composers who penned many a musical — including Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate, which won the first-ever Tony Award. lesmichaels.com


Memorial Day Air Fair and Flower Drop May 30.

Memorial Day Air Fair & Flower Drop: May 31

Palm Springs Air Museum honors fallen soldiers with a spectacular display: 3,000 red and white carnations cascading through the sky from a B-25 Mitchell bomber plane. palmspringsairmuseum.org

History Hunters: May 31 

Dig in to the desert’s past with fellow history buffs at Coachella Valley History Museum in Indio, where you can explore intriguing artifacts, hear fascinating speakers, and unveil the valley’s roots during this free monthly meetup. cvhm.org

art exhibitions
Cultural Cannibalism: Through May 29 

Artists Kim Manfredi, Cito Gonzales, Adriana Lopez-Ospina, Flávia Monteiro, Joyce Rooks, and Hector Salas showcase their boundary-pushing work at Coachella Valley Art Center in Indio. coachellavalleyartcenter.org

Devin Reynolds & Mr. Wash: Through July 3

Self-taught, Los Angeles–based painters Devin Reynolds and Mr. Wash exhibit the work they created as Palm Springs Art Museum’s first Outburst residents — a program that encourages artists to experiment with new forms and styles. psmuseum.org

Leon Polk Smith: 1945–1962: Through Aug. 28 

Palm Springs Art Museum celebrates the rich colors and pleasing geometric shapes that define Leon Polk Smith’s abstract paintings. psmuseum.org

Gonzalo Lebrija: Miracle of the Eternal Present: Through Oct. 2

View two decades’ worth of photos, videos, sculptures, and paintings by Mexican artist Gonzalo Lebrija at Palm Springs Art Museum. Lebrija often tilts the perspective on ordinary objects, as with his sculpture History of suspended time (A monument for the impossible), which turns a 1968 Chevy Malibu on its nose. psmuseum.org


Possibly for Paper Dolls by Jacqueline Groag is among the works on view at Palm Springs Art Museum during the Pattern Play exhibition, May 12–Nov. 20

Pattern Play: The Contemporary Designs of Jacqueline Groag: May 12–Nov. 20 

Palm Springs Art Museum exhibits joyful drawings, textiles, wallpapers, and other creations from the mind of Jacqueline Groag, a British designer who catered to the post-WWII hunger for fun and vibrant clothing and housewares. psmuseum.org

Homage to Collage: May 18–June 26 

Admission is free to view this collage exhibition at Artists Center at The Galen in Palm Desert. artistscouncil.com

Spamalot: Through May 1

Fans of Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) will dig this equally hilarious theatrical adaptation. Journey to Palm Canyon Theatre in Palm Springs to join Arthur’s hapless knights of the round table as they face dark forests, killer rabbits, and the French. palmcanyontheatre.net

Mid-Century Moderns: Through May 8 

A widow from Wisconsin unleashes her inner star in 1960s Palm Springs. This new musical at Desert Rose Playhouse features songs by midcentury desert icons like Frank and Nancy Sinatra. desertroseplayhouse.org


Guess Who's Coming to Dinner Through May 8.

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner: Through May 8 

Indio’s Desert Theatreworks produces this stage version of the Oscar-winning 1967 romantic dramedy. The film was among the first in America to positively depict an interracial marriage. dtworks.org

Into the Woods: May 13–22 

The happily-ever-afters of Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack (of beanstalk fame), and other Grimm Brothers characters turn a little, well, grim in this darkly funny musical at Palm Canyon Theatre. palmcanyontheatre.net

Kidsworks Performance Workshop: May 14–15 

Young thespians age 8 to 18 learn the ins and outs of musical theater in Desert Theatreworks’ annual Kidsworks program. They show off their creative skills in a 60-minute musical at Indio Performing Arts Center. dtworks.org

Artworks Contemporary Play Festival: May 21–22 

Discover fresh scripts and emerging writers at Indio Performing Arts Center, where Desert Theatreworks presents readings and productions of contemporary plays. dtworks.org

Sex: May 25–June 5

Actress and playwright Mae West served a 10-day prison sentence for obscenity after members of New York’s law enforcement watched her provocative dramedy Sex. See the 1926 play at Desert
Rose Playhouse in Palm Springs. desertroseplayhouse.org