Destinations Carmel-by-the-Sea Arts & Culture


Carmel-by-the-Sea's roots are planted firmly in the earth of its artistic and cultural heritage. Originally formed as an artists' community, it remains a central point for both fine arts and performing arts on California's Central Coast. Why else would the Cultural Council for Monterey County call Carmel-by-the-Sea its home?

Carmel-by-the-Sea Art Galleries

Carmel-by-the-Sea's walkable community makes it convenient to shop for and enjoy established and emerging artists in its dozens of galleries. The Carmel Art Association is one of the oldest cooperative art galleries in the United States. Its monthly art openings, the lecture series and a constantly changing exhibit of work all contribute to its enduring success.

Carmel Art Festivals

Every May, the galleries of Carmel-by-the-Sea take part in the Carmel Art Festival, a public celebration of the visual arts. Painters from around the world descend on Carmel-by-the-Sea to compete in the prestigious plein air painting competition; after they are judged, those new works of art are sold to visitors in a silent auction. Art demonstrations and lectures take place throughout Carmel-by-the-Sea during the festival. For information on the next Carmel Art Festival, click here.

The Carmel Art and Film Festival, held in October, features 50 independent films from around the world. The event doesn't end there; there's also visual art exhibits, live music, and talks from celebrated filmmakers. For information on the next Carmel Art and Film Festival, click here.

Carmel-by-the-Sea Theaters and Performing Arts

Carmel-by-the-Sea is one square mile of town, and within that area five live theaters, and a number of theater groups, have been established. The theaters range from intimate settings to large, auditorium-style seating. Pacific Repertory Theatre gives performances in the Outdoor Forest, Golden Bough and Circle Theatres, among other locations.

The recently renovated Sunset Cultural Center has hosted performers like Judy Collins, Arlo Guthrie, k.d. lang, Leo Kottke, Wynton Marsalis, Kathy Griffin and Garrison Keillor. In addition, the new stage has presented regulars like the Monterey Symphony and Chamber Music Monterey. Its structural improvements are not only beautiful, but also provide a perfect environment for acoustic sound and live theater performances.

Visit the Carmel-by-the-Sea official website for more information. 

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