San Diego’s Top Weekend Events: Sept. 30-Oct. 3

A car cruises at the Del Mar Fairgrounds during a previous year of Goodguys Meguiar’s Del Mar Nationals.
A car cruises at the Del Mar Fairgrounds during a previous year of Goodguys Meguiar’s Del Mar Nationals.

Here are the top events happening in San Diego from Thursday, Sept. 30 through Sunday, Oct. 3.

Thursday, Sept. 30

Gaslight Steampunk Expo

COVID-19 shut down Comic-Con these last two summers, but fans of steampunk will finally be able to gather in person at this four-day expo. Steampunk, a subgenre of science fiction, blends the Victorian era with the future, and explores imagined technologies, like computers that run on clock gears. The weekend will feature everything from a Tea Dueling Competition (dunking biscuits in hot tea) and a wing-building workshop (to help you fly) to swap meets and karaoke. There will also be costumes, lectures and the famous Saturday Night Ball featuring the High Society Jazz Band of San Diego. Attendees must wear face masks for all indoor events. Thursday through Sunday. Mission Valley Marriott, 8757 Rio San Diego Drive, Mission Valley. $60 for a weekend pass;

Dean LeCrone dressed as Dr. Artemus Peepers, a Steampunk hero at the Oceanside Pier.
(K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

San Diego Italian Film Festival

As part of its monthly film screenings, the San Diego Italian Film Festival will screen “Figli (Kids),” a comedy about what it’s like to have kids in Italy today. 7 p.m. Thursday. La Paloma Theatre, 471 S Coast Highway 101, Encinitas. $12 general admission;

Michael Rapaport
(Getty Images)

Michael Rapaport at American Comedy Co.

The “everyman” of the comedy world, actor, comic and podcast host Michael Rapaport is sure to sound off on sports, politics, pop culture, reality television and more during his weekend sets at the American Comedy Co. 8 p.m. Thursday ; 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday ; 7 p.m. Sunday . $30. American Comedy Co., 818 Sixth Avenue, Gaslamp.

Friday, Oct. 1


San Diego Musical Theatre presents a pre-professional production of Jonathan Larson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning musical that re-sets Puccini’s “La Bohème” in 1990s AIDS-plagued New York. The cast is made up of actors ages 15 to 21 and the show will be presented at SDMT’s new temporary theatrical home in Kearny Mesa. Opens Friday and runs through Oct. 17. 4650 Mercury St., San Diego. $25 and up. Full vaccination is required or negative COVID-19 PCR test is required within 72 hours of curtain. Masks are required. (858) 560-5740,

“Iris & the Axe”

“Iris & the Axe” is a Victorian-style choose-your-own adventure, where audiences can choose what they’d like Civil War widow Iris to do after marrying the wealthy but mysterious Charles Cypress of San Francisco. A narrator will read the story and, at points during the show, help the audience choose Iris’ decisions. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 2 p.m. Sunday. White Box Theatre, Liberty Station. $25 and up. Full vaccination is required or negative COVID-19 PCR test is required within 72 hours of curtain. Masks are required.

A photo of two hands clinking beer glasses
Prost to Oktoberfest!
(Bradley Schweit Photography/iStock/Getty Images)

La Mesa Oktoberfest

All ages are welcome to La Mesa Village for three days of traditional German beer, eats, entertainment and more. The 48th annual La Mesa Oktoberfest features three biergartens: Hofbrahaus Biergarten; Craft Bier & Seltzer Garten; and Palm Avenue Bier Hall. There will live music and numerous activities like a keg relay, musical chairs and sausage toss. There will also be contests including bier stein holding, brat eating and yodeling. For younger guests, the German Kinder Karneval features a Ferris wheel, face painting and more.
4 to 10 p.m. Oct. 1; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Oct. 2; noon to 8 p.m. Oct. 3. Throughout La Mesa Village. Free; Biergarten Pass for 21-and-up guests is $5 at the entrance, with VIP options available.

READ MORE: Oktoberfest is back in San Diego. Here’s where to celebrate

El Cajon Oktoberfest

Hosted by the German American Societies of San Diego, Oktoberfest in El Cajon returns for its second weekend. Dance to music from German-based band Guggenbach-Baum; enjoy German beer and food like bratwurst, sauerkraut and pretzels; and participate in activities like foosball, a pellet gun shooting range and a raffle (where one lucky winner will score two plane tickets to Germany). 4 to 10 p.m. Friday; noon to 10 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday. German American Societies, 1017 South Mollison Ave., El Cajon. $15 (Friday or Saturday); $5 (Sunday);

Goodguys 20th Meguiar’s Del Mar Nationals

Hot rod and classic car enthusiasts can cruise to Meguiar’s Del Mar Nationals, a car show presented by Goodguys Rod & Custom Association. More than 2,500 vehicles (rods, customs, classics, muscle cars and trucks) will be featured throughout the weekend. Explore the indoor car show or watch cars compete in races, including the three-day Goodguy Autocross Series on a timed road course. Those looking for auto parts for their own vehicles can browse a wide range of vendors and exhibitors, with the Swap Meet and Cars 4 Sale Corral offering hard-to-find items, memorabilia and cars. Both longtime attendees and newbies are welcome at the family-friend event, which also offers live music and a kid zone. Masks are required when inside buildings and social distancing will be enforced. For details on daily programming, visit the event website. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and Saturday; 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Del Mar Fairgrounds, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar. General admission is $20-$25 for adults, $10 for juniors (age 7-12) and free for age 6 and under.

San Diego Sake Day

Sample a range of sakes from San Diego and Japan, paired with bites crafted by local chefs, in honor of World Sake Day. The event at Japanese Friendship Garden kicks off with “Kagami biraki,” a traditional cedar sake barrel opening ceremony, and closes with a Taiko drumming performance by Genbu Daiko of San Diego. Live entertainment includes food demos and martial arts performances. Plus, learn more about the beverage from local sake brewers and sommeliers. Tickets are expected to sell out, so check website for availability. 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday. Japanese Friendship Garden, 2215 Pan American Road East, Balboa Park. General admission is $59 and VIP tickets are $99 (excluding fees).

Demetri Martin: I Feel Funny Tour

Award-winning standup comedian Demetri Martin will stop by San Diego on his national “I Feel Funny Tour.” Martin is known for deadpan humor and strumming a guitar while he tells jokes. In addition to his standup comedy specials, including Netflix original “The Overthinker,” Martin is also a film director, author and artist. Masks are recommended for all attendees. Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test is not required for this show, but check website for updates. 7:30 p.m. Friday. Humphreys by the Bay, 2241 Shelter Island Drive, Shelter Island. Tickets start at $39.

Untappd Beer Festival

More than 70 breweries — 14 of them local — will pour samples at Untappd Beer Festival’s San Diego debut. Ticketholders will receive a souvenir cup and have about 3 hours to enjoy unlimited tastings. There will also be food available for purchase from local vendors, plus live music from The Vegabonds, Arson Daily and Okey Dokey. 5:30 to 10 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. or 5:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday Petco Park, 100 Park Blvd., East Village. General admission is $65 and VIP tickets are $150.

READ MORE: Hop Talk: save the date for Untappd Beer Festival

Adams Avenue A-Live

Normal Heights may have had to cancel its Adams Avenue Street Fair due to COVID-19 this year, but the neighborhood hasn’t forgotten about live music. Starting Friday, the Adams Avenue Business Association presents a five week mini music series. The concerts will be held at different spots in Normal Heights, including under the Normal Heights sign (Friday), at Kensington Library Park (Saturday afternoon) and on the corner of 30th Street and Adams Avenue (Saturday evening). Each concert spotlights one artist or band and lasts 1 hour and 15 minutes. Fresh Veggis Micro Brass, Blind Mountain Holler and The Oxen kick off the fun with performances this weekend. 5:30 p.m. Friday; 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Saturday at various locations in Normal Heights. Free;

Bret Ernst at Comedy Store La Jolla

Actor, comedian and writer Bret Ernsthas appeared in movies and TV shows like “Weeds,” “Beer League” and Netflix’s “Cobra Kai.” He’s appearing all weekend in La Jolla. Comedy Store La Jolla, 916 Pearl Street, La Jolla. 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 7 p.m. Sunday. $25.

Saturday, Oct. 2

Pacific Beachfest

The popular beach festival returns with a variety of family-friendly events including a volleyball tournament, live music, a fish taco contest, a kids 1K, arts and crafts and more. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday. Felspar to Thomas Streets, Pacific Beach. Free;

“Belle of Amherst”

Cynthia Gerber will star in Lamb's Players Theatre's "The Belle of Amherst" Oct. 2 through Nov. 14, 2021.
(Nathan Peirson)

Lamb’s Players Theatre reopens with a solo play by William Luce about 19th-century American poet Emily Dickinson. Opens Saturday and runs through Nov. 14. 1142 Orange Ave., Coronado. $34-$68. Full vaccination is required or negative COVID-19 PCR test is required within 72 hours of curtain. Masks are required. (619) 437-6000.

Quinn XCII, Chelsea Cutler: Stay Next To Me Tour

Singer-songwriters Quinn XCII and Chelsea Cutler will perform at SDSU. Special guest Tai Verdes opens the evening. Facial coverings required for nonvaccinated individuals, but recommended for all guests. COVID-19 vaccine card or negative test result not required at this time, but check website for updates. Clear bag policy will be enforced and a list of prohibited items can be found online. Doors at 6:30 p.m. and show at 7 p.m. Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre, 5500 Campanile Drive. Tickets start at $34.50;

Balboa Park Pow Wow

Balboa Park Pow Wow — happening on both Saturday and Sunday — features bird singing, gourd dancing, inter-tribal dancing and more. All drums are welcome. There will also be arts and craft vendor booths for guests to browse. This event, presented by the San Diego American Indian Health Center, is in memory of spiritual leader Saginaw Grant, who died in July. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Corner of Park Boulevard and President’s Way, Balboa Park. Free;

“La Traviata” in concert

The FF collective, a group that provides performance opportunities for a wide range of artists, presents this concert version of “La Traviata.” Conducted by Bruce Stasyna, the show features local artists Tasha Koontz, Adam Caughey, Michael Sokol, Sarah-Nicole Carter and members of the San Diego Opera Chorus. 7 p.m. Saturday. St. Peters Episcopal Church, 334 14th St., Del Mar. $15 to $45;

Sunday, Oct. 3

Encinitas Oktoberfest

Encinitas Oktoberfest invites San Diegans to its 25th annual event on Oct. 3.Swing by the beach neighborhood for the day to experience German music by a Bavarian band, performances from Gemütlichkeit Alpine Dancers, a street craft fair with hundreds of vendors, and more. A ceremonial parade is scheduled for noon. Both German and San Diego breweries will serve up bites and brews at the “Keepin’ It Local Craft Beer Garden,” and the kid-friendly event also includes a family fun zone with carnival rides and other activities.10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Mountain Vista Drive and El Camino Real, Encinitas. Free, with complimentary parking at Flora Vista Elementary School and a shuttle service from the lot to the event.

Bloody Sunday Dark Wave Lunch

Celebrate spooky season with Bivouac Ciderworks at its Dark Wave Lunch, featuring an all-black dress code, goth-rock music, black donuts from Nomad Donuts, black “like my heart” glitter cider, Sunday Bloody Sunday Bloody Marys, and more. 12:30 p.m. Bivouac Ciderworks, 3986 30th St., North Park.