Saturday, May 26, 2018

10am – 3pm


Celebrate the 150-year anniversary of Balboa Park’s founding, to the day, at the second annual Fiesta Botanica. Kicking off the historic day’s festivities at 10:00 a.m. will be the colorful floral wagon parade, led by its Grand Marshall, State Assemblymember Todd Gloria, and the Scripps High School Marching Band and Color Guard. The parade will be followed by a full day of lectures, gardening demonstrations, kids activities, and tours showcasing the park’s rich horticultural history. Butterfly releases, live entertainment, and food trucks will punctuate the festive celebration. At approximately 10:45 a.m., Gloria will present a resolution from the California State Legislature in honor of Balboa Park’s 150th anniversary. The City of San Diego Mayor’s Office will also observe the important date with a proclamation on behalf of the city.

On May 26, 1868, the City of San Diego’s Board of Trustees passed a resolution to set aside 1,400 acres just north of “New Town” (present-day downtown San Diego) for a large park space. Originally dubbed “City Park,” it made San Diego only the second city in the United States to dedicate a large park after New York City’s 1858 establishment of Central Park. To mark the auspicious occasion, the annual park-wide Fiesta Botanica event will celebrate 150 years of park history, highlighting its award-winning gardens, significant tree collection, and ongoing efforts to create a sustainable, water-friendly green space in the heart of San Diego.

This year’s floral extravaganza will feature live entertainment by music prodigy Carmen Murray and her jazz trio, the venerable San Diego City Guard Band, the feel-good kids entertainer Kathryn the Grape, and special performances on the Spreckels Organ by Civic Organist Raúl Prieto Ramírez. Families will be treated to four butterfly releases and kids activities in Zoro Garden, and more than a dozen food trucks will be on hand to serve hungry visitors. In addition, expert guides will lead tours of Balboa Park’s gardens, trees, and historic landscaping, and free lectures will address the history of the park and its gardens.

Various community organizations will host more than two dozen activity and information booths along El Prado, offering arts and crafts, horticultural demonstrations, educational programs and packets, seed and plant giveaways and sales, and special exhibits that touch on the themes of gardening, the environment, conservation, and sustainability. Among the highlights are the “Ask a Master Gardener” booth hosted by the Master Gardener Association of San Diego County, a Sustainability Scavenger Hunt conducted by the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, and a 30-minutes-for-$30 session with a professional landscape designer.

Visitors arriving by car should plan to park in the Inspiration Point parking lot at the corner of Park Blvd. and President’s Way and ride the free tram, which runs 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., into the park. Attendees can avoid traffic and parking hassles altogether by using Lyft, our official ridesharing partner, to request an affordable ride in minutes. All Lyft app users can receive 20% off (up to $3) one ride to or from Balboa Park with code BPFIESTA on May 26, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Discount applies to fare and Prime Time charges only. (Limited quantity available. Cannot be combined with other ride credit or offers.) Families can also take advantage of MTS Family Weekends, which allows two children 12 and under per each paying adult to ride the bus and trolley for free on Saturdays and Sundays. To plan your trip, visit

The annual park-wide community event launched during the 2015 Centennial Celebrations as the “Garden Party of the Century.” Fiesta Botanica is now presented by the Balboa Park Conservancy in partnership with the City of San Diego Park & Recreation Department, and is enhanced by the participation of numerous garden clubs, park cultural institutions, and community groups.

Join the Wagon Parade!

We are now accepting entry forms for the celebration’s signature Wagon Parade. This year, you, your family, or your organization can be part of history. The entry form is due May 18, 2018. WAGON PARADE ENTRY FORM (PDF)


Fiesta Botanica 2018 Schedule

10:00am Founder’s Day Floral Wagon Parade along El Prado, led by State Assemblymember Todd Gloria and the Scripps High School Marching Band and Color Guard
10:00am-3:00pm Activity booths on El Prado; plant sale in Plaza de Panama
10:30am-3:00pm Food trucks along Village Place
11:00-11:30am Kathryn the Grape performs in Zoro Garden; first butterfly release at 11:30am
11:00am Lecture: Vonn Marie May — “History of Balboa Park”*
11:30am Moorish Garden Tour by historian Nancy Carol Carter
11:00 am-12:00pm San Diego City Guard Band performs on Botanical Building lawn
11:30am-2:30pm Carmen Murray Jazz Trio performs in the Plaza de Panama
12:30pm Lecture: Nan Sterman — “Gardens of Balboa Park”
12:30 & 1:30pm Butterfly releases #2 and #3 in Zoro Garden
1:00-1:20pm Civic Organist Raúl Prieto Ramírez performs in Spreckels Organ Pavilion
1:30-2:00 pm Lecture: Davey Resource Group — “Trees of Balboa Park”*
2:00-2:30pm Balboa Park Tree Tour led by Davey Resource Group*
2:00-2:20pm Civic Organist Raúl Prieto Ramírez performs in Spreckels Organ Pavilion
2:30pm Butterfly release #4

*Note: All lectures held in the Balboa Park Conservancy Board Room in the House of Hospitality. Balboa Park Tree Tour meets at same location.


Fiesta Botanica Booths in the Plaza de Panama

American Society of Landscape Architects – San Diego Chapter — Learn about the planning and artful design of our cultural and natural environments; win San Diego native plant specimens in a raffle.

Association of Professional Landscape Designers — Receive a 30-minute design consultation for $30 to learn how you can transform your yard into a fabulous outdoor living space, retreat for wildlife, and low maintenance/low water garden.

Art Club — Learn about the Japanese art of sumi-e painting and see depictions of flowers growing throughout Balboa Park.

Balboa Park Conservancy — Purchase garden-themed items and plants in special booth on the Plaza.

Balboa Park Cultural Partnership Sustainability Program — Take part in a Sustainability Scavenger Hunt for prizes; “Every Day Is Earth Day in Balboa Park” coloring activity for kids.

Botany for Kids — Watch a ladybug release and learn about natural pest control.

City of San Diego Parks and Recreation, Volunteer Office — Check out the garden-themed crafts and activities for kids and learn about volunteer, job, and recreational opportunities.

City of San Diego, Public Utilities Dept., Water Conservation — Pick up information on rebates and water conservation, and learn about materials and plants for low-water landscaping.

Culligan Water — Try your hand at recycling/conservation-themed word search puzzles for kids.

Friends of Balboa Park — Learn about projects to improve Balboa Park’s cultural landscape and pick up a free oak sapling while supplies last.

Friends of Takasumi-e — Watch live demonstrations of Japanese brush paintings of flowers and pick up a free bookmark.

Ikebana International, San Diego Chapter — View ikebana flower displays and browse a selection of books on ikebana for sale.

KyXy 96.5 FM — Learn about Yu-Gi-Oh, challenge a Master Duelist, and snag free prizes, including a demo deck of cards; also enter drawing to win tickets to concerts, Padres games, movie theaters, and theme parks.

Master Gardener Association of San Diego County — Have our Master Gardener answer your most pressing horticultural questions and pick up free garden-related items and handouts.

Renewal by Andersen — Learn about energy-efficient windows and doors through hands-on displays.

San Diego Cactus and Succulent Society — Pick up a free cutting and watch a demonstration on cochineal dye.

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society — Learn about carnivorous plants and get up close with live plants on display.

San Diego County Fair — Learn about the many horticultural and agricultural events taking place during this year’s fair at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

San Diego Floral Association — Enjoy a kids craft decorating with flowers and browse a selection of gardening and horticultural books for sale.

San Diego Iris Society — Learn how to choose, plant, and care for iris plants; pick up an instructional handout; and view a selection of potted irises and rhizomes for sale.

San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) — Pick up information about public transit and bus routes; prize giveaways. 

San Diego Orchid Society — Pick up an orchid care sheet, view a selection of colorful orchids, and learn orchid repotting techniques.

San Diego Seed Library — Learn about the importance of seed libraries and view a display of rare seeds and vintage seed packets from around the world; take part in a seed swap and pick up heirloom seeds.

San Diego Tropical Fish Society — Learn about the different types of plants that are beneficial to aquariums from live aquarium displays; ask knowledgeable members about fish keeping and environmental impacts.

San Diego Turtle and Tortoise Society — Learn about the care and adoption of turtles and how they can enhance a garden environment.

San Diego Zoo Global — Learn about and view live samples from the Zoo and Safari Park’s world-class botanical collection and plants grown for animals to eat.

Southern California Plumeria Society — Watch demonstrations of plumeria cutting and rooting methods, purchase cuttings, and pick up a free plumeria bloom.

Usborne Books & More — Take part in an interactive project for kids and browse a selection of fun and educational books on gardens and flowers for kids of all ages.

WorldBeat Center — Learn about the San Diego Seed Library and pick up seeds from our Children’s Garden and our garden seed sponsor Baker Creek Seed Co.


Food Trucks at Fiesta Botanica (10:30am–3:00pm)

Bosnian Grill
Caribbean Escape
Currywurst Frankfurt
Eat Your Heart Out
God Save the Cuisine
Herb N Donut Truck
Marcel Belgium Waffles
Pierogi Truck
Scugnizzi Pizza
Seoul Man
Sicilian Breeze
Super Q
Sushi Uno
Tacos La Mezcla
Thai Burger Company

Fiesta Botanica: Celebrating Balboa Park’s Plants & Gardens is made possible by: