When it comes to Irvine, California, regular visitors and locals can tell you that there is much to see and do. A number of corporations have their national or international headquarters located in Irvine, especially in the technology and semiconductor sectors. Although one might not expect a city known for many of its businesses and college campuses to be a hip place to hang out, quite the opposite is true.
As of less than a year ago, Irvine's population was more than 250,000. In approximately two decades, it is forecast that Irvine's population will surpass 315,000.
From cultural events to exercising and meeting all kinds of people, Irvine (incorporated in December of 1971) can make for an enticing visit time and time again. With so many community-oriented festivities, Irvine is the growing city that still feels like a town to locals new and old and even visitors. With that in mind, here are some places and events that visitors and locals definitely don't want to miss out on in 2016.
Irvine Studio Arts Festival
14321 Yale Avenue, Irvine (in Heritage Park)
Date: Saturday, June 4, 2016 from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
The Irvine Fine Arts Center hosts the first of its two annual events in June. Along with the Holiday Faire in November, June's Studio Arts Festival highlights Southern California artists and their original works of art. Patrons can purchase ceramics, sculpture, jewelry, painting, photography, fiber and glass. The Festival also gives visitors the opportunity to enjoy music, art demonstrations and food - including ice cream sundaes served in handmade collectible ceramic bowls.
City of Irvine Global Village Festival
Bill Barber Park
4 Civic Center Plaza
Date: Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016 from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
When it comes to putting on a festival, Irvine certainly knows how to do just that. This September event offers attendees more than 100 performances on five stages; a menu of international cuisine; an international marketplace featuring everything you could want including unique gifts, crafts and textiles; interactive, educational and entertaining cultural displays and demonstrations; an interactive kids village; and a world religions area allowing guests to explore, discuss and grow their spiritual knowledge with one-on-one contact with faith organizations.
Volunteer positions are available for Sept. 23- 25. Work hours and responsibilities will differ depending on the day.
Irvine Spectrum Center
670 Fortune Drive
As the holidays get closer, thoughts turn to colder weather and maybe even a little skating action - that is, if you're brave enough to put on and lace up a pair of ice skates. This venue offers visitors the opportunity to get some exercise and meet some other ice skating lovers at the same time during what is tabbed as OC Chill. The season begins in late November and runs through New Year's Day.
Adult skaters can get in for $19 (includes skate rental for $15, or bring your own skates), while toddlers get in for $15 (includes double-blade ice skate rental for sizes 8T - 12T only). A season pass is $199 (includes admission and skate rental with no blackout dates).
Tanaka Farms U-Pick Pumpkin Patch
5380 3/4 University Drive
When October rolls around, many people are in the mood for pumpkins, some hot apple cider, ghosts and goblins. Tanaka Farms offer visitors the opportunity to take part in a wagon ride around the 30-acre farm ($5, ages 2 & under are free), find their way out of a corn maze (free with admission), pick their own fresh vegetables ($2.99/lb), visit a petting zoo ($3, ages 2 & under are free), and join in for a harvest festival on the weekends. The festival includes Tanaka Farm's pumpkin cannon, food, games, ATV rides and lots more.
The Irvine Museum
18881 Von Karman Ave
Irvine, CA 92612
For the art lovers out there, The Irvine Museum is the perfect place to go. Focused on the preservation and display of California art of the Impressionist Period (1890-1930), The Irvine Museum prides itself on its efforts in "embracing a principal role in the education and furtherance of this beautiful and important regional variant of American Impressionism that has come to be tied to California and its remarkable landscape."
The current exhibit, "The Nature of Water: Our Most Precious Resource" (running through June 16), offers visitors the opportunity to view myriad of California landscape paintings, making them aware of one of California's historically scarce and precious resources - water. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is complimentary for all visitors, though donations are gratefully accepted.
Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on Examiner.com.