57 Things to Do in March

The Living Desert turns 50 with a big party, Fashion Week El Paseo delivers nine nights of shows, and a foodie fantasy awaits at Palm Desert Food & Wine.

Amelia Rodriguez Attractions, Current Guide

The James Beard Gourmet Four-Course Luncheon opens Palm Desert Food & Wine, March 27-29.
Palm Desert Food & Wine / March 27–29

Ask what keeps pastry chef and Illinois native Gale Gand coming back to Palm Desert Food & Wine, and she’ll begin by talking about the weather. “Basically, you can invite anyone from Chicago to California during the winter months,” she says, “and they’ll say yes.”

The real draw, she’ll admit later, is the chance to make some friends. “There’s a camaraderie with the other chefs you get to cook with,” the two-time James Beard Award winner enthuses. “That thing of ‘too many chefs spoil the broth’ is not true. [We get] to learn from each other and have fun in the kitchen together.”

READ NEXT: How Five Desert Chefs Impressed the Patrons at the James Beard House in New York.

Gand will cook alongside TV personalities and restaurateurs such as Paulette Goto, Keegan Gerhard, and Lisa Bailey at this year’s annual Sunday Brunch. Gand will also host a class about cooking with tea and spices where attendees at the Gardens at El Paseo event will have the chance to whip up chai marsala and taste a few of her expert blends and bakes. These events are only a few of the standouts in the weekend’s packed itinerary, which includes the annual James Beard Gourmet Four-Course Luncheon (featuring bites from even more celebrity chefs) and two Grand Tastings.

For first-time ticket-holders, Food & Wine veteran Gand has a few tips: “Elastic waistband, comfortable shoes. Eat food before you drink wine. And come hungry. It’d be a shame to come and not be hungry.” palmdesertfoodandwine.com

Photography Without Borders / March 2

Annie Griffiths appears at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert to speak about her colorful career as one of the first woman photographers to shoot for National Geographic. She gives attendees a glimpse at some of her most powerful images, including those emphasizing the impacts of climate change worldwide. mccallumtheatre.com

Oracle Challenger Series/ March 2–8

Up-and-comers compete for BNP Paribas Open wildcard berths in this point-based showdown at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Past Oracle winners who have gone on to impressive tennis careers include Taylor Fritz and Danielle Collins. oraclechallengerseries.com

The Finest Hour / March 3

Davina and The Vagabonds and Hot Club of Cowtown energize McCallum Theatre audiences with the postwar tunes of Billie Holiday, Bing Crosby, and other luminaries who defined “the finest hour” of American music. mccallumtheatre.com



The Finest Hour

Wild Coachella: The Genius of Birds / March 4

“Bird brain” isn’t exactly a compliment — but author Jennifer Ackerman takes the stage at University of California, Riverside’s Palm Desert campus to argue that maybe it should be. Ackerman breaks down the astonishing brightness of birds in our region. palmdesert.ucr.edu

Idyllwild Arts Student Showcase / March 4

Idyllwild Arts is a boarding school helping kids cultivate their talents in visual arts, creative writing, dance, theater, and more. The academy’s future O’Keeffes, Astaires, and Austens showcase their talents at the Rancho Mirage Public Library and Observatory. idyllwildarts.org

Pink Martini / March 4–8

Take a sip of the genre-bending sound of “little orchestra” Pink Martini. Lead vocalists China Forbes and Storm Large sing in 15 different languages for a transnational show at the McCallum Theatre. mccallumtheatre.com



Pink Martini

La Quinta Art Celebration / March 5–8

More than 200 artists set up shop at the La Quinta Civic Center park for the inaugural year of this annual festival, which offers visitors the best in ceramics, painting, sculpture, and more, plus fun extras like a toffee vendor and a margarita village. laquintaartcelebration.org

Terry Fator / March 6

This America’s Got Talent–winning ventriloquist honed his talent for singing with his mouth closed in the car, where he liked to belt along to songs without other drivers eyeing the performance. See Fator’s celebrity-impression skills (and his squad of personality-packed puppets) at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino. fantasyspringsresort.com

Queen Nation / March 6

When it comes to honoring Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon, Queen Nation are the champions. The energetic tribute artists play classics like “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Somebody to Love” at Spotlight 29 Casino in Coachella. spotlight29.com

Community’s Finest Showcase / March 6

The best of desert dance sashays onto the Annenberg Theater stage in this pre-professional showcase hosted by the Palm Springs Dance Project. Local dance schools and cultural groups present a captivating variety of styles while competing for the chance to rep the Coachella Valley at the So Cal Youth Invitational Showcase. psdanceproject.org

The Living Desert Anniversary Gala / March 7

Celebrate 50 years of giraffes, cheetahs, and bighorn sheep at The Living Desert’s Golden Anniversary Gala. Enjoy cocktails, dinner, and entertainment by Citrus College Blue Note Orchestra and DJ Baz while commemorating the past, present, and future of wildlife conservation in the Coachella Valley. livingdesert.org/gala



The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

Rick Braun / March 7

Trumpeter Rick Braun’s smooth jazz stylings have graced the songs of artists like Tom Petty, Rod Stewart, and Tina Turner. The composer appears at the Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa as part of their popular Grooves at the Westin series. groovesatthewestin.com

Coachella Valley Wildflower Festival / March 7

This free fest at the Palm Desert Civic Center Park celebrates the desert’s annual vibrant bloom with art, food vendors, live music, a kids zone, and 5K. desertmountains.org/wildflower

Il Volo / March 7

Pop over to Fantasy Springs Resort Casino to hear the unique “popera” tunes of this Italian trio, who nabbed a top spot in the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest, an annual TV showdown of representative artists from more than 50 countries. fantasyspringsresort.com

Lisa & the Gents and John Stanley King Band / March 7, 14

Now in its 22nd year, the Gardens on El Paseo’s charity concert series has drummed up more than $1 million for local nonprofits with eats, sips, and songs on the lawn in front of Sak’s Fifth Avenue in Palm Desert. This month’s shows feature country band Lisa & the Gents and classic rock outfit the John Stanley King Band and benefit Coachella Valley Volunteers in Medicine and the YMCA. thegardensonelpaseo.com

BNP Paribas Open / March 9–22

More than 450,000 tennis lovers attend the two-week-long BNP Paribas Open to watch the greats battle on the courts for almost $16 million in prize money at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Enjoy eats at posh pop-up renditions of Nobu and Spago. bnpparibasopen.com



BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

The Mikado / March 9

The McCallum Theatre presents this 1885 comic opera about topsy-turvy legislative drama in a Japanese town. The work, a satire of British institutions at the time of its first staging, is one of the most frequently played musical theater productions in history. mccallumtheatre.com

Full Moon Hike / March 9

Experience the desert after dark with this guided hike in the La Quinta Cove. Lucky explorers might hear an owl’s call or spot a glowing scorpion caught in their docent’s blacklight beam. desertmountains.org

Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder / March 12

Country and bluegrass singer Ricky Skaggs has spent 60 years making sweet music on the mandolin — and he’s only 65. The 15-time Grammy winner and Country Music Hall of Famer takes to the McCallum Theatre stage with his band Kentucky Thunder. mccallumtheatre.com



Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder.

OneGunn / March 13

Milwaukee-born entertainer OneGunn embodies reggae pioneer Bob Marley with crowd favorites like “One Love,” “No Woman No Cry,” and more, as part of Spotlight 29 casino’s “Next Best Thing” tribute series. spotlight29.com

Pitbull / March 14

See Mr. Worldwide right here in the Coachella Valley. The rapper, singer, and philanthropist — he’s contributed significantly to educational initiatives that bolster and support the Latino community — appears at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino. fantasyspringsresort.com

Art on Main Street / March 14

More than 100 artists vend paintings, ceramics, jewelry, and more in Old Town La Quinta, a charming collection of restaurants and boutiques designed to reflect the lively but peaceful city centers of Europe and Northern California. oldtownlaquinta.com

Jeremy Jordan / March 14

Fans of the CW’s Supergirl will recognize Jeremy Jordan as Kara Zor-El’s tech-genius bestie Winn. He’s also a Tony-nominated Broadway performer flexing his vocal chops at the Annenberg Theater in Palm Springs. psmuseum.org

Keyboard Conversations with Jeffrey Siegel / March 16

Jeffrey Siegel is a piano man with the gift of gab — he furnishes his catalog of melodic classics with commentary on the origins and importance of each song and its composer. His latest concert at the McCallum Theatre celebrates Romantic era icons Frédéric Chopin, Robert Schumann, and Franz Liszt. mccallumtheater.com

The Celtic Tenors / March 17

Spend St. Patrick’s Day in style at the McCallum Theatre. These three Emerald Isle singers serenade audiences with traditional Irish ballads like “Danny Boy” and beloved operatic arias such as “Nessun Dorma” — plus fun-takes on a few contemporary hits. mccallumtheatre.com



The Celtic Tenors

New York Philharmonic String Quartet / March 18

Four principal members of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra form this squad of string musicians (there’s two violins, a viola, and a cello). Hear their symphonic sounds at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert. mccallumtheare.com

Bob Mackie / March 19

Dine with a star at Agua Caliente Resort Casino in Palm Desert. Coachella Valley Repertory presents this “Luminary Luncheon” with Bob Mackie, a nine-time Emmy-winning costume and fashion designer who’s dressed such icons as Carol Burnett and Cher. cvrep.org

The Texas Tenors / March 19

Want a little yeehaw in your opera? Go no further than the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert, where these America’s Got Talent alums serenade audiences with songs from their Billboard Classical chart-topping albums Rise (2017) and A Collection of Broadway and American Classics (2018). mccallumtheatre.com

ABBAFab / March 20

Take a chance on this ABBA tribute band. The talented members of ABBAFab don go-go boots and goofy wigs for a fun and singalong-ready performance of hits like “Mamma Mia,” “Chiquitita,” and more at Spotlight 29 Casino in Coachella. spotlight29.com





Fashion Week El Paseo / March 20–27

El Paseo enters its 15th year as host to the West Coast’s largest consumer fashion show, where renowned and upcoming design talents — including Amsterdam–based couturier Edwin Oudshoorn and a number of  topliners — send models down the runway, present shoppable trunk shows, and chat with fashionistas and fans. fashionweekelpaseo.com

Paris! The Show / March 20

Francophiles will fall head-over-heels for Paris! The Show, a spectacular saturnalia of postwar French music (including ditties by Edith Piaf, Josephine Baker, and Yves Montand). Head to the McCallum Theatre for a night in the City of Light. mccallumtheatre.com

Hall & Oates / March 21

You’ve heard Hall & Oates’ “You Make My Dreams” in The Wedding Singer (1998), Step Brothers (2008), 500 Days of Summer (2009), and Ready Player One (2018). Now, hear it live — alongside the duo’s other beloved hits — at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino. fantasyspringsresort.com


Hall and Oates

The Manhattan Transfer / March 21

Named after John Dos Passos’ 1925 novel, The Manhattan Transfer have been busting genres and delighting listeners since 1969. See the 10-time Grammy winners at the McCallum Theatre. mccallumtheatre.com



The Manhattan Transfer

Desert Mountains Art Faire / March 21

Preservation-focused nonprofit Friends of the Desert Mountains hosts this monthly art fair at the Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitors Center, where local creators and craftspeople vend photos, paintings, handmade pots, and more. desertmountains.org

Thunder from Down Under / March 21

Say g’day to Australia’s hottest export. Think: Magic Mike if it starred your favorite Aussie actor — and happened live and in person at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa in Rancho Mirage. aguacalientecasinos.com

It’s Magic! / March 22

The name says it all. This mind-boggling, long-running show (now in its 63rd year) brings America’s Got Talent stars, Las Vegas headliners, and International Magicians Society awardees to the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert. mccallumtheatre.com

Mnozil Brass / March 24

This Austrian brass group imbibes classical and jazz standards (and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”) with a slapstick sense of humor that’s been compared to the absurdist genius of Monty Python. Play along at the McCallum Theatre. mccallumtheatre.com

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater / March 25

One of the most celebrated American dancers of all time, Alvin Ailey was known for his intricate and moving choreography and his black culture–focused American Dance Theater, which continues to perform their repertoire of more than 200 ballets throughout the world, including at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert. mccallumtheatre.com


Alvin Ailey American Dance

Chaka Khan / March 27

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino audiences make way for the Queen of Funk. Listed at No. 17 in VH1’s list of The 100 Greatest Women of Rock & Roll, R&B star Chaka Khan is known for collaborations with artists like Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, and Quincy Jones and solo singles like “I’m Every Woman.” fantasyspringsresort.com

Steve Tyrell  / March 27

In what’s been called a “Cinderella story,” Tyrell was a successful but relatively unknown producer before he sang “The Way You Look Tonight” in Father of the Bride (1991) and found himself thrust into the spotlight. He performs pop standards at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert. mccallumtheatre.com

Mick Adams and the Stones / March 27

A first name isn’t the only thing Adams has in common with Mick Jagger. The Jagger look- and sound-alike fronts a Rolling Stones tribute band, giving fans the chance to hear “Paint It Black,” “Satisfaction,” and other favorites live at Spotlight 29 Casino. spotlight29.com



Mick Adams and the Stone

Dancing with 
the Stars / March 28

This special live version of the popular ABC show features seasoned dancers waltzing and cha cha-ing across the Fantasy Springs Resort Special Events Center stage. They’re joined by past celebrity guests like Kate Flannery (aka Meredith on The Office) and Kel Mitchell of Kenan & Kel. fantasyspringsresort.com

Grand Finale / March 29

Retiring McCallum Theatre president and CEO Mitch Gershenfeld ends his 20- year tenure at the theater by conducting a stirring show with the McCallum Theatre Concert Band, tango dancers (and Dancing with the Stars alums) Sandor and Parissa, and members of The Ten Tenors. mccallumtheatre.com

No Chaser / March 30

No chaser necessary — because this group is smooth. The sharply dressed, good-humored acapella pack serves up cool covers and clever mashups at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert. mcallumtheatre.com




Marilyn, Madness & Me / March 5–6

Say “Hello, Norma Jean” at the Community Room Theater at the Rancho Mirage Library & Observatory. This poignant play centers around the actress’ last months with her loyal limousine driver.

Sweat  / Through March 8

Lynn Nottage’s critically acclaimed play about rising tensions in the poverty-stricken steel town Reading, Pennsylvania, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2017. See the timely drama at the Pearl McManus Theater in Palm Springs. dezartperforms.org

The Pajama Game / Through March 15

Fans of Newsies will be drawn to the Palm Canyon Theatre’s production of this 1954 musical, which centers on a labor dispute at the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory. palmcanyontheatre.com

Beautiful Thing / March 6–29

This 1993 play is a tender, triumphant story about coming out, coming of age, and falling in love. Watch teenagers Jamie and Ste navigate life in working-class Thamesmead, England, at the Desert Rose Playhouse in Palm Springs. desertroseplayhouse.org

The City of Conversation / March 11–29

The titular “city” in this political drama at Coachella Valley Repertory is Washington, D.C. The conversation is between a liberal senator’s wife and her family.

Chicago / March 13–15

Audiences at the McCallum Theatre are transported to the Windy City, where the women’s block of Cook County Jail is the launch pad for the sensational vaudeville careers of two singing murderesses. mccallumtheatre.com

Sordid Lives / March 26–29

The Palm Canyon Theatre presents this dark comedy about family tensions following the accidental motel-room death of the family matriarch. The play’s 2000 film adaptation is an LGBTQ cult classic that also spawned a TV series. palmcanyontheatre.com


The Producers

The Producers / March 13–29

This Mel Brooks musical about two scheming Broadway producers won 12 Tonys in 2001. See the outrageous romp unfold at Desert Theatreworks in Indio. dtworks.org


Imaging Change: History, Memory, and Social Justice / Through April 5

Inspired by Dawoud Bey’s moving photographic series honoring and remembering the six children who were murdered by white supremacists in Birmingham, Alabama, on Sep. 15, 1963, this exhibition at the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert features artists whose photos engage with the past, the contemporary moment, and the need for a different future. psmuseum.org

Lino Tagliapietra: Il Deserto Fiorito / Through April 12

Renowned Italian glassblower (and mentor to American glass master Dale Chihuly) Lino Tagliapietra exhibits more than 30 vibrant glass sculptures at the Palm Springs Art Museum. psmueum.org



Jim Isermann. Copy. Pattern. Repeat.

Gerald Clarke: Falling Rock / Through May 31

Palm Springs Art Museum mounts Cahuilla artist Gerald Clarke’s first major solo exhibition, highlighting about 80 works. It’s an eclectic mix of items like branded books and metal signs, all of which approach modern issues with a dry wit and a singular cultural perspective that refuses to let viewers shy away from America’s fraught history. psmuseum.org

Reach for the Sky: Tradition + Inspiration / Through June 7

A striking 30-foot-tall totem pole has greeted visitors to Walter and Leonore Annenberg’s Rancho Mirage estate, Sunnylands, since 1978. Carved by indigenous artist Henry Hunt and later restored by his son Stan and grandson Jason, the totem pole serves as the focal point for a new exhibition featuring work by the Hunts and American sculptor Herb Alpert. sunnylands.org

Jim Isermann. Copy. Pattern. Repeat. / Through Sep. 27

With his colorful paintings, sculptures, and more, Palm Springs resident Jim Isermann transforms the Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center into an exuberant pop art garden. psmuseum.org