modernism week indian wells tour

41 Things to Do in October 2021

From the BNP Paribas Open to Modernism Week Fall Preview, Greater Palm Springs' event calendar is showing signs of normalcy.

Amelia Rodriguez Attractions, Current Guide

modernism week indian wells tour

Modernism Week Fall Preview’s Walking the Wells Tour.

Coachella Valley Improv & Comedy Festival: Oct. 23–24

 “I never thought that improv got the respect it deserves,” muses actor, director, and choreographer Jeanette Knight. Knight’s own journey with the form began at ComedySportz in Reno, Nevada, where she fell in love with thinking on her feet to entertain audiences.

Knight founded the Coachella Valley Improv & Comedy Festival in 2014. The fest bounced around before landing at its home at the Coachella Valley Repertory playhouse in Cathedral City.

Ticketholders can join workshops and watch performances by comics including Jason Stuart, Tom Dreesen, and Mary Gallagher. Another lineup highlight is improv duo redDoor, who collect audience suggestions, then launch into an off-the-cuff play.

“At the end, you feel like you’ve been to many different places and met many different characters,” Knight says, “and it was just these two people on a bare stage.”


Pure & Weary

redDoor earned headliner status with a win in the 2019 festival’s Showcase & Competition. Guests will select the next leading comedian by voting for their funny faves from this year’s contest. Knight’s team of industry professionals pared more than 250 submissions down to two afternoons’ of top-notch acts.

Knight made a point to choose humorists who aren’t afraid to get personal. “What makes me laugh is if [the joke] is relatable to me,” she says. “And if there’s a level of relaxation — the closer you can get to feeling like you’re in your own living room, the better.”

Festgoers will feel extra chill knowing that tickets won’t break the bank. That’s intentional. “Improv is theater of the people,” she says. “We want to expose [everyone] to the art form.”

Mary Gallagher
The Dinah: Sept. 29 to Oct. 3 

Macy Gray, Yung Baby Tate, MK xyz, and Kat Cunning are among the headliners at this year’s Dinah, the world’s largest lesbian event that brings together more than 15,000 lesbian, bisexual, and queer women in Palm Springs for pool parties, shows, and more.

America: Oct. 1

Despite their patriotic moniker, folk rock group America actually formed in London, England, where the members’ fathers were stationed on a U.S. Air Force base in 1970. Hear “Sister Golden Hair” and other hits stateside at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio.

BaHOOTenzie FolkFest: Oct. 1–2 

Singer-songwriter Steve Poltz heads this festival at the Joshua Tree Lake Campground. At the end of each night, Poltz teams up with three other musicians from the event’s 15-artist lineup for an electrifying jam sesh.

Jackie Beat & Sherry Vine: Oct. 2 

In this cheeky show entitled “Best Frenemies,” drag queens Jackie Beat and Sherry Vine perform hilarious song parodies and trade playful barbs at the Purple Room in Palm Springs.

Chaka Khan: Oct. 2 

R&B legend Chaka Khan launched her career as the lead singer of funk band Rufus. Since then, she’s nabbed 10 Grammys and the No. 17 spot on VH1’s list of the 100 Greatest Women of Rock & Roll. See the Queen of Funk live at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino.

Palm Springs Vintage Market: Oct. 3

Whether you seek a striking painting for above the dining table, a vintage film camera in great condition, or the perfect pair of retro cutoffs, you might end your search at this monthly market at the Palm Springs Cultural Center.

Troon Challenge: Oct. 3

Grab a partner and tee up for this two-person scramble. Amateur golfers compete at the Indian Wells Golf Resort for their chance to qualify for the finals in Arizona.

Gladys Knight: Oct. 16

Gladys Knight and the Pips began as a second-string act at Motown Records, but the Empress of Soul quickly catapulted to stardom with hits like “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and “If I Were Your Woman.” She sings her iconic tunes at Fantasy Spring Resort Casino.

Joshua Tree Music Festival: Oct. 7–10

Dirtwire, Orgone, and Jack Love top the lineup at this family-friendly music festival at the Joshua Tree Lake Campground. Between acts, get crafty at the creation stations or stretch out at a yoga workshop.

Paint El Paseo Pink: Oct. 9

El Paseo in Palm Desert is at its rosiest during this annual walk to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment. Form a team and don your commemorative pink T-shirts, plus all the blush-colored accessories you can pile on, for a spirited stroll.

Le Dîner en Blanc: Oct. 9

This elegant picnic transports historical romance novels’ dreamy garden parties to the 21st century. Registered guests must dress in head-to-toe white, pack elegant eats, and meet at a rendezvous spot to be whisked away to a secret location.

Chase the Ace Motorcycle Poker Run: Oct. 9

Ready your chips and choppers for this fundraiser at the Indio Community Center. Enter the raffle, grab a bite, and join the game for your chance to win a prize for best hand (or worst!). Proceeds benefit adaptive sports and rec programs at the Desert Recreation District.

Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons: Oct. 9 

The singer takes the stage at the Agua Caliente Casino in Rancho Mirage, flexing his trademark falsetto and performing crowd favorites including “Candy Girl” and “Working My Way Back to You.”


Frankie Valli


Highway 62 Open Studio Art Tours.

Hwy 62 Open Studio Art Tours: Oct. 9-10, 16–17, 23–24

More than 200 artists in Joshua Tree and the Morongo Basin offer guests a sneak peek into their studios. Visitors will have the chance to purchase pieces and watch the artists at work.

Modernism Week Fall Preview: Oct. 14–17

If butterfly rooflines set your heart aflutter and you dream of owning an Eames, don’t miss this event, which offers more than 50 tours, talks, and parties for mid-mod mavens. Must-dos include a Rat Pack–era cocktail-making class and a double-decker bus tour of the desert’s most iconic architecture.


Discover midcentury modern architecture during Modernism Week Fall Preview.


View and purchase a variety of items from more than 40 exhibitors.

Modernism Show & Sale: Oct. 15–17

Dozens of exhibitors converge on the Palm Springs Convention Center with selections of vintage furniture and art and midcentury-inspired contemporary designs. The sale kicks off with a preview party where guests can sip wine and get an early chance at the goods.

PS We Love You Scavenger Hunt: Oct. 16

In this fundraiser for the Palm Springs Animal Shelter, players have four hours to solve clues and drop by landmarks and businesses throughout Palm Springs to rack up points. Food trucks, a vendor fair, and an awards ceremony
await participants.

Yum! Food Fest & Night Market: Oct. 17

Come hungry to the Westfield Palm Desert mall, where food trucks and snack stands serve tasty eats alongside retail vendors. There’s also live music, plus carnival rides for kiddos and a beer garden for grownups.

Arthur Lyons’ Film Noir Festival: Oct. 21–24

Now in its 20th year, this festival at the Palm Springs Cultural Center celebrates the black-and-white movies of the midcentury. Standouts from the fest’s suspense-filled lineup include All My Sons and Mildred Pierce.

A Conversation on Art, Life, and Love with Karen and Tony Barone: Oct. 22

If you’ve ever laid eyes on the supersized, multihued rabbits who haunt Highway 111 in Rancho Mirage, then you’ve seen the work of artist couple Karen and Tony Barone. The pair share stories and secrets at this fundraising event for arts literacy nonprofit Tools for Tomorrow.


Karen and Tony Barone.

Center Stage: Oct. 22

The Center fêtes 20 years of serving the desert’s LGBTQ+ community with this party at the Palm Springs Air Museum. Proceeds benefit programs including a food bank, and support for queer youth.

Palm Springs International Dance Festival: Oct. 22–24

The annual Palm Springs International Dance Festival presents its fall series celebrating dance in all forms with performances in styles ranging from contemporary to hip-hop.

Reunited & It Feels So Good: Oct. 22–24

The Desert Ensemble Theatre celebrates the return of live events with this spirited cabaret-style show featuring local singers Charles Herrera, Darci Daniels, Jerome Elliot, and Keisha D.


The Black Market Trust.

The Black Market Trust: Oct. 23

The five members of this sleek jazz band cite Django Reinhart and The Beach Boys as inspirations for their playful acoustic sound. They perform classics from the Great American Songbook at The Purple Room Supper Club in Palm Springs.

Jason Bonham: Oct. 23

Jason Bonham transforms Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio into a “Stairway to Heaven” for Led Zeppelin fans with a rockin’ lineup of the songs Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, and Bonham’s father John made famous.

Birds of Anza Borrego: Oct. 23–24

Joshua Tree National Park’s Desert Institute offers this group ecology class for aspiring ornithologists. Set up camp at Anza Borrego State Park just in time to spot warblers, flycatchers, and other snowbirds among the desert’s year-round feathered residents.

BooBall: Oct. 30

Do your part for safer schools by attending Boo 2 Bullying’s annual gala at the Palm Springs Air Museum. Snack on hors d’oeuvres and sip tequila while hearing live tunes and competing to win best costume.

Hike the Covington Coaster: Oct. 30

Lace up your hiking boots for a 9-mile trek led by Travis Puglisi of the Joshua Tree National Park Association’s Desert Institute in Yucca Valley.

Gutter Candy, Motördead & Outhouse Outlaws: Oct. 30

Hard rock band Gutter Candy take audiences back to the ’80s with satirical tunes and classic covers. They play alongside tribute groups at this Halloween Bash at The Palms Restaurant & Bar in Wonder Valley, near Twentynine Palms. Rock star costumes encouraged.


Desert AIDS Walk.

Desert AIDS Walk: Oct. 30

Join more than 2,000 other altruists in a march through downtown Palm Springs to honor those lost to HIV/AIDS and raise funds to increase healthcare access in the Coachella Valley. Benefiting DAP Health, the event begins at Ruth Hardy Park and includes a Health & Wellness Festival.

Gather at the Gardens: Oct. 30

Join in on the fun on Oct. 30 from 2-6 p.m. at the Gardens on El Paseo for an afternoon of Fall fun, food, contests and activities for all ages. Activities include: jump zone, rock climbing, pumpkin painting, arts & crafts, trick or treating, and costume contests for pets, adults and kids. Lisa and the Broken Hallelujah’s will be there for your listening pleasure with magic shows featuring Magician Dean Apple. Don’t forget your appetite because La Quinta High School’s culinary division will be there along with the La Quinta Brewing Company. Ticket packages will be sold on site and online  (link coming soon) for the games and activities. Proceeds from this event benefit the Family YMCA of the Desert.

Halloween on Arenas Road: Oct. 31

The Arenas Road district of downtown Palm Springs hosts this frighteningly fun party featuring live entertainment and a costume contest with more than $1,800 in prizes up for grabs.

Be a Hero for Kids Halloween Bash: Oct. 31

Treat yourself to tickets for this poolside party at the Hilton Palm Springs and support children’s programs at the local Boys & Girls Club. The affair includes cocktails and tasty bites.

Halloween Spooktacular: Oct. 31

Hop on your broomstick and fly over to the Cathedral City Community Amphitheater. This free event includes music, games, and a costume contest where the prize is a brand-new bicycle. Even if you don’t win the wheels, you’ll walk away with a treat; organizers give away more than 40,000 pieces of candy per year.

Sordid Lives: Sept. 23 to Oct. 3

The Palm Canyon Theatre presents this darkly hilarious play about the skeletons that emerge from the Ingram family’s closet as they gather for the funeral of their matriarch.

Xanadu: Sept. 30 to Oct. 17

Roller skating muses, greedy real estate tycoons, and Zeus himself all take the stage in Desert Rose Playhouse’s production of Xanadu, an adaptation of the Razzie-winning 1980 cult classic of the same name.

 The Producers: Oct. 8–31

Mel Brooks penned this comedic musical about the titular producers’ shady attempts to get rich quick by collecting capital for the world’s worst Broadway play. Things go awry, however, when their surefire flop becomes an unexpected hit. See the story unfold at Desert Theatreworks in Indio.

Shrek the Musical.
Shrek The Musical: Oct. 22–Nov. 7

Based on the critically acclaimed (seriously!) 2001 animated movie, this flipped fairytale follows a grumpy ogre’s attempts to rescue a princess with a secret. Actors at the Palm Canyon Theatre portray the unlikely pair and their wisecracking donkey pal.

Girlfriend: Oct. 27–30

Rock artist Matthew Sweet’s album of the same name provides the blueprint for this heartfelt musical about two young men falling in love in 1990s Nebraska. Dezart Performs presents the show at the Rancho Mirage Amphitheater.

art exhibitions
Storm of Hope: Law & Disorder: Through Feb. 6 

On view at the Palm Springs Art Museum, Robert Longo’s massive, hyperrealistic charcoal drawings serve as a thought-provoking portrait of our contemporary moment.

Helen Frankenthaler  Late Works, 1990–2003: Oct. 14–Feb. 27

Known for a technique dubbed “soak-stain,” in which she used thinned oil paint to create watercolor-like pieces, Helen Frankenthaler is among the most important artists of the post-World War II era. See 30 pieces from her later years at the Palm Springs Art Museum.