TO SEE A TRIO OF WHALES, outside of a documentary or animated film, is a rare and wonderful thing, but it does happen. One minute you've got your eye on a single blowhole in the distance, and then! A fluke rises nearby, and then another. There could be even more behemoths, beneath the waves, but you know, right there, from your perch on a bluff or a boat, that you've witnessed something quite special. There is another special happening, that has to do with the concept of a trio, and with whales, too, but this one happens very much on terra firma. It's the Mendocino Whale Festival, a late-winter party that's so large it takes up three full weekends in three different towns. Those towns are pretty close to each other, along the coast -- Mendocino, Little River, and Fort Bragg -- but the multiple municipality vibe telegraphs the fact that fans who gather to celebrate the fluke-fantastic, migration-majestic beasties think big when it comes to whales. That bash-oriented bigness is back for another swim-through over the first three weekends in March 2016.
THE MENDOCINO WHALE FESTIVAL... is up on weekend number one, on Saturday, March 5 and Sunday, March 6, with Little River following after that and Fort Bragg wrapping it all up on March 19 and 20. Every place that's part of the party has a little something different going on, but there are themes ("whales" being a huge one, but food and drink, too). The Mendocino Whale Festival will feature a wine & beer tasting and a chowder festival, but if you miss that hang tight for Fort Bragg, which will also celebrate clam-laden, creamy-good seafood stews. Sea cave kayak tours are one highlight of the Little River weekend, while art and a run dot the other schedules. It's just massive, massive like a massive mammal, and to book stays in all three towns over all three weekends might be a bucket-list-y must-do for the extreme whale fan. And that's all of us, yes? We may never see more than one whale at a time out in the waves, or we may see many, but three is definitely a lucky number, town- and weekend-wise, during the yearly Mendocino Whale Festival.