This epic (and free) outdoor concert series features live performances by artists from around the world at the gorgeous water-encompassed California Plaza stage in DTLA. With Japanese hip-hop and a pan-African funk band, this series spans multiple genres and continents. Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Gaby Morena and Buyepongo are among this year's performers on the Downtown stage. Don’t miss a diverse and highly intriguing mix of musical performances, live scores, films, poetry and theater.
Everyone’s favorite NPR affiliate has a hand in over a half-dozen summer concert slates at locations like Union Station and the Hammer Museum. But the party-till-midnight bashes at Chinatown Central Plaza have become a particular favorite. Familiar KCRW personalities like Garth Trinidad, Travis Holcombe, Anne Litt and Jason Bentley spin the tunes at these food truck-fueled block parties. Participate in cultural workshops before busting a move on the dance floor to DJ sets and live bands. A craft beer garden, cooking demonstrations and a vintage market round out the fun to be had at this music-centric event.
Celebrate L.A.’s burgeoning Eastside with a free music festival—what’s not to like? Echo Park Rising is back for its eighth year with over 100 handpicked local up-and-coming bands, comedians, film screenings and more. With venues ranging from the Echo and Stories Books & Cafe to Button Mash and the parking lot of TAIX French Restaurant, as well as various special discounts and sales at local businesses, this is always a neighborhood affair not to be missed.
Indulge your inner foodie and shopaholic at this weekly food-focused market. The Brooklyn export has landed in the Arts District and become a hotbed of fantastic food and retail vendors, with some that are testing out their dishes before launching a full-blown brick-and-mortar in the city. Bonus: there is plentiful (and free, for two hours!) parking in the nearby parking garage.
Eat|See|Hear travels to different locales throughout the city each Saturday during the summer, showing cult flicks on an inflatable HD screen taller than your average Malibu mansion. Bring your own bites or sample snacks from the impressive roster of resident food trucks and show up early for a set from local LA bands. Parking is free at most of the venues, and tickets for screenings at the Autry even include admission to the museum. What's more? If you want to skip the crowds and stroll in casually during the opening credits, spring for an exclusive "Fashionably Late" pass. All of the events dog-friendly, and a portion of ticket sales benefit Best Friends Animal Society in support of NKLA.
It isn’t summer in L.A. until the first cemetery screening brings hoards of movie-lovers to Hollywood Forever, toting folding chairs, picnic blankets, snack spreads and lots of booze. Each year, Cinespia brings classic cult favorites to the hallowed resting place of such Hollywood greats as Rudolph Valentino and Bugsy Siegel. This year’s first batch of screenings includes The Neverending Story, Drive, Almost Famous and Casablanca. Angelenos line up for hours to partake in the concept—and to enjoy DJ sets, dance parties, sleepovers and more magical mischief otherwise strictly forbidden behind the cemetery gates. It’s an L.A. rite of passage, a quintessential summer experience and one of the best film venues in the city. Just be sure to get your ticket early, arrive early (doors open at 6:45pm), pee early... it’s getting a bit overcrowded, to say the least.
Embrace the peak of summer with a Hawaiian luau thrown by Dominique Ansel, who'll be whipping up an à la carte menu of Spam musubi tempura, papaya avocado salad, Mochiko fried chicken, grilled shrimp skewers, lomi salmon, coconut rice wrapped in banana leaf, malasadas with lilikoi curd, shaved ice and more. Or, get the feast for two, at $40 per person, and try every item. Wash it all down with 189's special menu of tropical and tiki-inspired cocktails, and it's almost like you can hear the waves on the shore. Reservations can be made online.
Think you can handle the heat? We've done our fair share of hot sauce taste testing, but the fourth annual California Hot Sauce Expo is taking our taste buds to a whole new level. For two days, City National Grove of Anaheim will fill with pepper-hungry attendees boasting their ability to withstand even the spiciest offender. Will they make it through 40 hot sauce samples and multiple eating challenges (our favorite: The Guinness Book of Record Smoking Ed's Carolina Reaper Pepper Eating Challenge)? We'll find out. Just be glad that there's beer on hand (though milk wouldn't hurt, either).
San Francisco’s favorite entourage of self-proclaimed sonic missionaries, Silent Frisco, merged with promoter Sunset SF to create HUSHconcerts. The name may be different, but the concept is still the same: to bring to life wicked lineups (Talking Heads, LCD Soundsystem, James Brown, etc.) through a cutting-edge, technology-meets-music event. Here’s how it works: The man behind the curtain places the decibels & volume from large speakers into headphones for each concert-goer, allowing a totally immersive musical experience, without the distractions of ambient noise. Basically, you’re dancing your ass off to great music next to a bunch of other people doing the same, in a room that’s pretty much silent. All the tunes are in your headphones. Both the audio clarity and the vibes are guaranteed to be top-notch.
Celebrate your love of Japanese culture (and, most importantly, gyoza!) at this epic showdown—in years past the world’s top-ranked eater, Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, downed 384 dumplings. Watch in awe (or horror) as food-guzzling champs tackle the 10-minute challenge of who can eat the most dumplings. It’s bound to make you hungry. Fear not: A food stand will be available for those who enjoy gyoza—and you don’t even have to wolf them down like the pros.
One of the most Hollywood events of the summer, the Hollyshorts Film Festival is a week and a half of networking events, Q&As with filmmakers and screenings of short films produced around the world. The annual fest screenings will be held at the TCL Chinese 6 (that’s the multiplex behind the famous one), and promises numerous 40-minute films (or less) from early afternoon to midnight. The all-access badge sets you back $600, but it could be worth it for those planning to make the most of the festival, with its opening night and after party, film screenings, panel conferences and awards ceremony. If you’d rather just go for a single program, check the website for a full daily schedule.
Silver Lake's legit little music venue offers up some of the best local music in the city every Monday night... for free. Check out LA bands that are about to make it big (acts like Fitz & the Tantrums, Superhumanoids and even Local Natives have graced the residency stage) without spending a dime—well, except on maybe a beer, or a round for the folks onstage. Check the Satellite calendar to see who's on the bill each month. Acts often have a rotating cast of openers, so you can see different bands each week while watching the main act work on material, become more comfortable onstage and find their rhythm as the month goes on. Then a few years from now, you can say "I saw them when...."
It's free music every Monday when sponsored, up-and-coming local bands call the Echo stage home for a one-month stint, honing their stage presence and giving various opening acts a chance at the spotlight as well. If you're worried a Monday night will fill up to capacity, you can RSVP on the Echo website for VIP entry. When a band is on its third or fourth Monday and killing it, this is a pretty convenient way to make sure you're in on the action.
Ever witnessed living art? Let your eyes play tricks on you at artist Alexa Meade's two-day exibition as part of the BOLD Summer Nights series in Bevelry Hills this August. Meade, who recently created a whimsical room for L.A.'s 29 Rooms installation, is known for bringing her artwork to life—quite literally—through the use of an unusual canvas: people and their surrounds. On August 4th and 18th only, you can catch her 2D and 3D creations in two different themes. First, Meade will create a pool-themed setting of living art at the Beverly Cañon Gardens. Second, she will dream up an Old Hollywood-themed work of art outside the Paley Center for Media in tandem with the Marilyn Monroe exhibition opening.
The newest flea market on the block, the Venice outpost of this artisan/craft-focused flea market mini-empire is bringing records, vintage and vintage-inspired clothing, cosmetics, jewelry and more to the Westminster Avenue Elementary School. A handful of small batch confectioners provide sweet treats to snack on or take home, while food trucks and nearby restaurants provide heartier bites. Though relatively small in size, owing perhaps to its prime location bookending the neighborhood’s famed Abbot Kinney stretch, vendors hawk a diverse range of hand-made and expertly curated wares that seems to simultaneously fit in and stand out in one of the nation’s most unusual neighborhoods.
Downtown’s concrete square gets a bit livelier with feel-good Saturday-night sets from the Bangles, Best Coast, Ozomatli and Smash Mouth, plus Wednesday afternoon farmers’ market shows. Catch the free, open-air performances from July 11 through August 18.
Want to admire the moon and constellations up close, but don’t have your own powerful telescope at home? Not to worry, Griffith Observatory has you covered with their popular (and free) monthly Public Star Parties. Head out to the Observatory’s expansive lawn among hundreds of other star enthusiasts and check out the views through a wide variety of telescopes, with savvy amateur astronomers happy to discuss what you see through their equipment. The views of celestial objects above and L.A.’s majestic city lights below make this a special evening for the whole family.
The annual Long Beach BBQ Festival is taking over Rainbow Lagoon with a bonanza of meats—trust us, that's not as weird as it sounds. Award-winning BBQ teams will be offering their best cuts of meat and sauces in an effort to win over attendees, who will be casting their vote in the People's Choice Awards. Also at stake: a trophy awarded for the Best in Southern California BBQ Ribs and Sauce. Purchase an entry ticket and pay as you eat, or splurge on an all-you-can-eat pass to the VIP Rib Village. Take a break between bites to dance to live music.
Summers in Los Angeles mean scores of live outdoor tunage, and beginning in June, Angelenos will have something to groove about through Labor Day. Memorial Park hosts Levitt Pavilion Pasadena’s summer concert series every Thursday through Sunday, providing more live music than you’ll know what to do with. Likewise, the Levitt Pavilion Los Angeles in MacArthur Park will host its own free summer music series, inviting concertgoers to roll out the picnic blanket and vibe out to shows Thursday through Sunday. Basically, double the concert lineups—completely gratis. Expect a diverse roster of acts spanning all genres, in addition to kid-friendly performances every Sunday at Levitt Pavilion Los Angeles and every Thursday at the Levitt Pavilion Pasadena. There will be more than 50 concerts by the time the season is through, and admission is always free. Just bring yourself, a foldout chair, some eats, good company and open ears.
Author and historian Roger Gastman put together MOCA’s popular 2011 street art retrospective, “Art in the Streets.” Now, the graffiti authority is back to curate another massive exhibition, set to take over a spacious warehouse on the northern edge of Chinatown. “Beyond the Streets” celebrates the evolution of the artform with works from over 100 artists. Site-specific installations include large-scale banners from feminist activists Guerrilla Girls, a playable handball court decorated by Lee Quiñones, a sprawling double-sided painting by Takashi Murakami that encircles visitors and FAILE’s Temple, an interactive construction of ceramic, steel, mosaics and prayer wheels. The show also features L.A.-inspired installations, including a recreation of griffiti and skate destination Venice Pavilion, in partnership with adidas Skateboarding, and an outdoor garden installation by Ron Finley, known for his “gangsta gardening” projects to bring food sources back to inner-city communities. The touring exhibition debuts in L.A. on May 6 at Werkartz (1667 N Main St) and runs through July 6. Timed tickets cost $25.
Head to Echo Park on Mondays for free residencies at one of the best venues on the East side, the Bootleg. Theater shows happen in the Gallery, and music in the Theater (in back) and the Bar (in front). Residencies take place in the bar, with high tables and stools in the back, a bar with great craft brews and a high, open-beamed roof with great acoustics. Check the Bootleg's calendar to see who's on the bill month to month.
This two-weekend event celebrates Japanese culture with displays of martial arts, tea ceremonies, flower arranging and more. Crowds of nisei—the word refers to the first generation of Japanese to be born in America—gather for festivities and a parade that culminates with the coronation of the Nisei Week Queen.
Ginger-mopped English popster Ed Sheeran is only in his early 20s but already a huge hit at home—his debut album, +, entered the charts at number one, and he performed at the Olympics closing ceremony. He's making waves here, too, having recorded a duet with Taylor Swift for her best-selling album, Red and performing live with Elton John at The Grammys.