While the traditional Western calendar may run from January through December, UC Santa Cruz students know that September brings the real fresh start. Every school year is different, however there are some beloved events at UCSC and in the Santa Cruz community that you can always count on. What follows is just a collection of monthly highlights — some only a couple years old, some over 30 — so keep your eyes peeled, because new traditions are popping up all the time.


Photo by Sal Ingram

School Starts

UC Santa Cruz’s nearly 18,000 students return to campus.





Photo by Morgan Grana

Downtown Halloween

Many students head down to Pacific Avenue to celebrate All Hallow’s Eve, encountering all sorts of ghouls, goblins and monsters. However, be warned: the night is often all-too realistically scary: In downtown Santa Cruz, in 2011, 50 arrests were made on Halloween, 43 of which were alcohol-related, others of drug possession, parole violations and possession of concealed weapons.

Surf City AIDS Ride

Hundreds of cyclists take off during the Surf City AIDS Ride to raise money for the Santa Cruz AIDS Project, often starting at San Lorenzo Park, where there is live music, food and HIV/AIDS education booths.


Photo by Prescott Watson


Regents Meet

On Nov. 13, the UC Regents will meet at UC San Francisco at Mission Bay, going until Nov. 15. The first meeting of the UC Regents happened on Sept. 11–13.

Rainbow Theater

The only multi-cultural theater arts troupe in the UC system begins its 2012 season with “Real Women Have Curves” and “Colored Museum on November 1, 3 and 9, and “Down and Out” and “Poets Corner” on November 2, 4 and 10.  Breath Boom will show November 16, 17 and 18.


Photo by Toby Silverman


Sports Finals

Students can watch UCSC’s NCAA fall sports finals in December. As basketball, volleyball, and other sports finish up, the winter season begins.





Chocolate Festival 

Santa Cruz’s Chocolate Festival often draws a large crowd at the Cocoanut Grove, located at the The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Last year’s Chocolate Festival drew in 28 vendors from as far away as Seattle, offering up gourmet chocolate as a fundraiser for re-entry studnets. The festival is organized by the UCSC Women’s Club. Tickets can be found in mid-December through local businesses such as Whole Foods, The Bay Tree Bookstore and Bookshop Santa Cruz.


Photo by Morgan Grana


Random with a Purpose

UC Santa Cruz’s yearly student-directed dance show “Random with a Purpose” takes place every February. The show’s 20th anniversary performance took place last February and featured everything from the crawling undead to sensual belly dancers, with the standard mishmash of modern dance and ballet.

African American Theatre Arts Troupe

UC Santa Cruz’s African American Theater Arts Troupe (ATTAT) performs yearly under the direction of Don Williams, founder and director of the group. AATAT’s mission statement is “to create unity, higher visibility and an understanding of the African American culture at UCSC.”


Photo by Sal Ingram


Queer Prom 

Only celebrated for two consecutive years, Queer Prom is a new tradition taking place at UC Santa Cruz. Last year it was hosted by the Queer Student Union (QSU) and Delta Lambda Psi (DLP). The purpose, organizer Nestor Rivera said, is to “build a better union with queer students on campus.”

Earth Summit

The Student Environmental Center hosts the annual Earth Summit event in March. The mission: To educate the UCSC community about sustainability by showcasing student sustainability projects and interactive workshops. The Earth Summit also features live music and guest speakers.


Photo by Morgan Grana



The annual Acquirefest — a concert hosted by student-run Acquire A Cappella at UC Santa Cruz — features a panoply of voice-only musical groups.

Queer Fashion Show

The annual Queer Fashion Show event takes place every April. Last year the charity event donated all proceeds to the Walnut Avenue Women’s Center, Planned Parenthood and the Diversity Center, promoting causes advanced by the queer community.


The Santa Cruz AIDS Project (SCAP), in conjunction with UCSC hosts an annual Santa Cruz AIDS Walk. According to SCAP’s website, the walk is a fundraiser for HIV related programs and also increases HIV/AIDS awareness.


Photo by Morgan Grana


Multicultural Festival

The annual Multicultural Festival, which has been running for 33 years, is an event that aims to promote intercultural solidarity at UCSC, and highlight campus diversity. Last year’s festival was themed “Embracing the Beauty of Difference through Culture,” and aimed to recognize students of underrepresented communities on campus by celebrating their presence.

Campus PRIDE 

The campus-wide annual PRIDE event is a celebration of the queer and allied community at UC Santa Cruz. Organized by the Kresge Multicultural Education Committee and the PRIDE Committee, it features a campus-wide parade, culminating in a festival held in Kresge Lower Street.

Greek Week

Last year at Greek Week, 16 fraternities and sororities competed in five different events to bring home glory for their organization. The events included lipsyncing, men’s basketball, women’s football, pizza eating and coed futsal (a type of indoor football). After NCAA sports, Greek Week is UC Santa Cruz’s largest sporting event on campus.

Speaker Blowout 

Last year was the sixth-annual speaker blowout. The jointly organized SUA and Engaging Education event was aimed toward addressing issues that affect access to higher education and the success of under-resourced and under-represented communities on campus.

Photo by Prescott Watson



Each year UC Santa Cruz says goodbye and good luck to a new graduating class.