The performing arts have long been a valued and celebrated aspect of San Luis Obispo culture. With the goal of educating and increasing accessibility for kids, students, and the community at large, The Performing Arts Center’s SLO outreach programs continue to foster SLO’s affinity for the arts. From local acts to international groups, a variety of talented performers can be found on the many stages throughout SLO. San Luis Obispo’s event calendar is full of exciting concerts and performances happening throughout the year.
Check out the listings for films, ballets, chamber music concerts, dramas, and even comedy performances, along with annual performing arts festivals below. Overwhelmed by all the choices? Don’t worry—you can always come back to visit!
1035 Monterey Street, San Luis Obispo
The Fremont Theater, SLO’s retro, Art Deco theater, lights up the town with its neon marquee sign and hosts a variety of shows and events. This historic building has become a hot spot for live concerts, though it’s still perfect for hosting red carpet premieres and festivals like the annual SLO Film Fest, which features noteworthy documentaries during the week-long event. With its broad spectrum of uses, the Fremont Theater in Downtown SLO is a Central Coast classic.
Performing Arts Center
1 Grand Avenue, San Luis Obispo
A state-of-the-art performance facility, the Performing Arts Center, commonly known as the “PAC,” is located on the California Polytechnic State University campus. The PAC consists of two main venues, including the Christopher Cohan Center and the Alex & Faye Spanos Theatre, as well as the Harold Miossi Hall, which houses the remarkable Forbes Pipe Organ. On any given night, each venue of the San Luis Obispo Performing Arts Center hosts local, national, and international performers, presenting everything from ballet, drama, comedy, and opera performances to orchestra, jazz, and symphony concerts. Cal Poly students can often enjoy “student rush” pricing at the PAC, where last-minute tickets are sold for just $10. If you find yourself in the area during the winter months, try to catch one of the many holiday performances like the Cal Poly Choirs: Holiday Kaleidoscope, and more!
SLO Repertory Theatre
888 Morro Street, San Luis Obispo
The San Luis Obispo Repertory Theatre is the home of professional, live theatre in the heart of Downtown San Luis Obispo. SLO REP’s intimate 100 seat playhouse is the perfect place to sit down and enjoy a show during your San Luis Obispo vacation. Featuring a year-round season of delightful musicals, hilarious comedies and powerful dramas, SLO REP is your theatrical destination along the Central Coast.
Annual Theatre & Performing Arts Events
- San Luis Obispo International Film Festival, a premiere 6-day annual event in March, showcases contemporary and classic film screenings in a wide variety of movie theaters and local venues in Downtown San Luis Obispo.
- SLO Jazz Festival’s Annual Fall Fest has featured artists like Coco Montoya, The Purple Ones, Rick Estrin, and Black Market Trio in an array of different locations throughout SLO. From grandiose ballrooms to quaint outdoor settings, the Annual Fall Fest is sure to delight jazz enthusiasts and casual passerby’s alike.
- Festival Mozaic is one of the oldest and most respected classical music festivals in the West, taking place in the summer months with Festival Mozaic Summer and during the winter season with Festival Mozaic Wintermezzo.
- The Central Coast Renaissance Festival, taking place in July, features over 800 costumed participants at San Luis Obispo’s El Chorro Regional Park, which is transformed into Donneybrooke, an English Renaissance village for Shakespearean live entertainment of all kinds.
- San Luis Obispo Symphony’s Classics in the Cohan Series is hosted at the Cal Poly Performing Arts Center and gives viewers a magical evening experience. Directed by Andrew Sewell, the Classics in the Cohan Series is a musical event that you don’t want to miss.
- The Monday Clubhouse Conservancy hosts an annual Fine Arts Awards competition each spring, awarding scholarships to talented San Luis Obispo County high school juniors and seniors for their musical and artistic skills.