Continues with The Living Desert’s Annual Brew at the Zoo, renowned Fashion Week El Paseo, a special exhibition inspired by the Salton Sea, and much more!

By Chris Clemens

First Weekend Palm Desert in April is another exciting weekend celebration of arts and culture, this month featuring The Living Desert’s Annual Brew at the Zoo, a major fundraising event. In addition, the highly anticipated Fashion Week El Paseo returns and College of the Desert is showcasing the engaging exhibition, “The Salton Sea: Lost in Paradise,” while the McCallum Theater continues its world-class entertainment with new acts and Galen First Friday continues with fresh live music, plus much more!

Taking place on Saturday evening is the featured event for First Weekend, The Living Desert’s 7th Annual Brew at the Zoo. Attendees can enjoy a number of craft beers and experience a culinary adventure with tasty dishes served from some of the Coachella Valley’s top restaurants and caterers. Premium wines and other libations will also be available. The evening includes entertainment with several live music stages throughout the grounds.

Beginning April 2, Fashion Week El Paseo 2016 presents runway shows featuring top couture designers, Stars of Project Runway, the El Paseo Runway show, FIDM/ Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising graduating student collections, and Le Chien Couture. While the event goes through April 9, two of the exciting shows take place on Saturday and Sunday of First Weekend. In addition to provocative and eye-popping fashion shows, there will be daytime events inside the shops of El Paseo. Don Vincent Menswear, Blond, Kate Spade, Earth Spirits, Francesca’s, Lorna Jane, White House Black Market, St. John, Ralph Lauren, Chico’s, and Banana Republic are just a few of the luscious shops that are participating in in-store events throughout Fashion Week by hosting trunks shows, special receptions, and fabulous promotions. Select shops on El Paseo also participate in El Paseo After Dark on Friday night with extended shopping hours and special receptions open to the public.

A thought provoking exhibition, “The Salton Sea: Lost in Paradise,” debuts on Friday, with an opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m.  The exhibition is on view at the Marks Art Center, located at College of the Desert. featuring a selection of works and memorabilia from the collection of the late Jennie Kelly, new video from Coachella Valley artist Cristopher Cichocki, Contemporary Sculpture by Ashley Hagen and Aili Schmeltz, photographic works from Christopher Landis, Joan Myers (Salt Dreams), Kim Stringfellow (Greetings from the Salton Sea), and new work from photographers Victory Tischler-Blue, Bill Leigh Brewer and environmental artist Doron Gazit. In addition, the exhibit will include paintings by Deborah Martin and new work from landscape painters Andrew Dickson, Mary Austin-Klein and Eric Merrell, who will present a new series of “nocturnes” inspired by the Salton Sea.  A site specific installation will be on view by Los Angeles based artist Thinh Nguyen who will present a durational performance, “From Dawn to Dust,” during the reception.

Live entertainment continues Friday evening at The McCallum Theater with “An Evening of Classic Lily Tomlin,” with Tomlin performing more than a dozen of her timeless characters, from Ernestine to Mrs. Beasley to Edith Ann. And, back by popular demand, acclaimed trumpeter Chris Botti returns to the McCallum on Saturday evening.

Following is a schedule of First Weekend activities specifically scheduled for April:

Note: Some activities are free, for others there are fees. Check websites for specific information.

Friday, April 1, 3 – 6 p.m.

Tap-In Taproom Happy Hour

Whole Foods Market in Palm Desert

Come enjoy Happy Hour at the Tap-In Taproom with $1 off draft beers, house wines, and well cocktails.

 Friday, April 1, 5:00 p.m. 

“The Salton Sea: Lost In Paradise” exhibition opening reception

Marks Art Center at College of the Desert

Friday, April 1, 8:00 p.m.

An Evening of Classic Lily Tomlin

McCallum Theatre

Friday, April 1, 8 – 9:30 p.m.

Jazz for Jazz Lovers: Don Menza’s 8 Man Tribute to the Music of Stan Getz

Pete Carlson’s Golf and Tennis

Since 2010, Pete Carlson’s Jazz for Jazz Lovers series has presented world class jazz concerts. Now in its 6th season, the 2015-2016 series will include 40 concerts presenting some of the world’s most talented jazz musicians. Non-profit concert proceeds support music education and scholarships for young musicians in the Coachella Valley.

 Friday, April 1,  7 – 10 p.m. 

Go Crazy for Oysters with Buck A Shuck

Whole Foods Market in Palm Desert

Make a perfect dinner with responsibly farmed oysters, and watch as the expert’s shuck oysters for just a buck a piece.

Saturday, April 2, 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. 

Cruise In

Westfield Palm Desert from Join the Palms Springs Cruisin’ Association for an afternoon of custom cars, hotrods, classics, muscle cars, trucks, motorcycles and more.

 Saturday, April 2, 6:30 – 9:30 p.m.

Brew at the Zoo

The Living Desert Zoo & Botanical Gardens.

Saturday, April 2

Fashion Week: Saks Fifth Avenue Presents Monique Lhuillier

The Gardens on El Paseo, Upper Parking Lot

7:00 p.m. Cocktail Reception

8:00 p.m. Fashion Show and Live Auction

Saturday, April 2, from 8 – 9:30 p.m.

Jazz for Jazz Lovers: Shelly Manne Tribute with Gary Foster

Pete Carlson’s Golf and Tennis Pete Carlson’s Golf and Tennis

Non-profit concert proceeds support music education and scholarships for young musicians in the Coachella Valley.

Sunday, April 3

Fashion Week: Le Chien

The Gardens on El Paseo, Upper Parking Lot

5:00 p.m. Cocktail Reception

6:00 p.m. Fashion Show and Live Auction

Sunday, April 3, 8 p.m. 

Chris Botti

McCallum Theatre

 Sunday, April 3, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Sunday Brunch: Paint Nite with Team Irish

Whole Foods Market

Create your own masterpiece!

Every First Weekend, November through May, includes the following activities:

  • El Paseo After Dark on Fridays

From elegant shopping to exquisite dining, El Paseo indulges all the senses, and on Friday’s of First Weekend many shops stay open extended hours. Amongst a beautiful backdrop of the gorgeous San Jacinto Mountains, visit your favorite luxury labels and chic boutiques, savor gourmet cuisine by the Coachella Valley’s top chefs, visit antique shops and art galleries. With over 250 retailers, the mile-long drive is home to Gucci, Louis Vuitton, St. John, Tiffany, Escada, Presage, Saks Fifth Avenue, Kate Spade, Ann Taylor, Grayse, and many others.

  • El Paseo Cruise Night, Friday from 3:15 to 6 p.m.

The cool, shiny, lovingly cared-for cars begin arriving around 3:15 p.m. at the upper level of the parking structure behind The Gardens on El Paseo. Get a close-up look at these beauties and talk to the owners before 4:30 p.m. when they take over the street between Highway 74 and Portola until 6 p.m. Grab a spot (preferably at a patio table at one of El Paseo’s wonderful restaurants) and watch the polished chrome show.

  • El Paseo Art Walk, Friday from 4 to 8 p.m.

The renowned El Paseo Artwalk is a self-guided tour with maps provided, to stroll the numerous art galleries on the famed drive. Art galleries will feature exhibit openings, artist receptions, and more.

  • Galen First Friday from 5 to 9 p.m.

Enjoy free admission to the museum for exhibitions and film screenings, and, Sculpture Garden. Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert is located at 72567 Highway 111, (760) 346-5600.

  • Passport to Art and Design, Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Visitors to The Art Place get a stamped Passport from each of the ten unique galleries for a chance to win a prize. The Art Place is located at 41801Corporate Way in Palm Desert, (760) 776-2268.

  • Free Guided Public Art Tour

Free guided walking tours of the public art collection in Palm Desert includes tours at El Paseo Exhibition, Civic Center Park, or the Palm Desert Library. Palm Desert Public Library is located at 73300 Fred Waring Drive, (760) 837-1664.

  • EL Paseo Extended Shopping Hours, Friday from 6 to 8 p.m.

Shop extended hours at the fabulous boutiques and shops along El Paseo and savor cuisine by the Coachella Valley’s top chefs.

Key First Weekend partners include El Paseo (the Rodeo Drive of the desert), Westfield Palm Desert, McCallum Theatre, The Living Desert, The Art Place, and Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert, The Galen and Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden.

First Weekend Palm Desert attracts visitors from throughout Southern California while also engaging local residents. Visitors from out of the area seeking accommodations will find everything from luxurious resorts to budget-friendly hotels, including the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa, Marriott’s Shadow Ridge, Residence Inn by Marriott, The Westin Desert Willow Villas, Hampton Inn & Suites, Shadow Mountain Resort & Club, The Inn at Deep Canyon, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Mojave Inn, Casa Larrea Inn, Club Intrawest, Embassy Suites, Best Western, and Holiday Inn Express.

For more information about First Weekend visit or call (760) 568-1441. For more information about the City of Palm Desert and hotels within the City, visit or call (760) 568-1441.