Swallows Fun Flies for San Juan Capistrano

It's a springtime flutter of fun, with a parade, horses, contests, and a mercado, too.

SONGS, POEMS, PAINTINGS, and other works of art have been created around the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano, which, it is said, happens on St. Joseph's Day. That's March 19, but the decades-old Swallows Day Parade and Mercado Street Faire has the delightful knack for landing on a nearby Saturday, with the knowledge that if swallows don't always keep to a calendar. Also delightful? The parade is billed as "the largest non-motorized parade in the country," further adding to the historic feel and vintage mystique of the celebration. It's a celebration...

WITH MANY MERRY PARTS, from the huge and horsey procession, a parade that's rife with yippee-ki-yay, vaquero-cool spirit, to the also huge Mercado Street Fair. Traditional country tunes played live, places for the tots to burn off some energy, and lots of shopping opps are part of the scene, which is a traditional parade-follower (so carve out some time to stick around). You'll also want to call upon Mission San Juan Capistrano, which is closely associated with the swallows, their legend, and, quite frequently, their nests. Plus? The timeless spread's gardens should be bursting quite nicely, blossom-wise, when March 23 trots into view.

THAT IS THE 2019 DATE, Saturday, March 23, so plan your Orange County idyll around the start of spring. And few things are more springful than the song of a sparrow, or a sparrow sighting, in one of the Golden State's best-preserved burgs. It's got wayback charms and a current, close-knit spirit. See for yourself, at one of the sweetest and most olden-timey bird bashes in California.

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