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23 free things to do in Los Angeles this September 2018

Twilight Concerts
Photograph: Courtesy Twilight Concerts

You’ve planned a day at one of L.A.’s best beaches and figured out how to spend your Labor Day, but are far more free things to do in September after the long weekend. From a surf dog competition to an oceanfront concert series, these are the best ways to make the most of your month without breaking into your wallet.

Through Sept 2
Free Shakespeare in Griffith Park; Old Zoo

Close out summer with the free series’ last performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Titus Andronicus.

Through Sept 9
“Not an Ostrich: And Other Images from America’s Library”; Annenberg Space for Photography

Curator Anne Wilkes Tucker has pulled 500 of the most striking portraits and obscure curiosities from the Library of Congress’ staggering collection of 14 million images.

Sept 2
Delicious Vinyl West Adams Block Party; Delicious Pizza
Celebrate West Adams’ rich culture at this hip-hop pizza joint’s block party, with headlining sets from KRS-One and Masta Ace.  

Sept 5–Oct 7
Twilight on the Pier; Santa Monica Pier

See acts like Brazilian Girls, Betty Who and Fela! The Concert at the retooled return of this free oceanfront concert series.

Sept 8
Proud Picnic + Movie Night; Grand Park

Celebrate the freedom to love whomever you please at this LGBTQ picnic, which includes a selection of short films as well as a screening of “bucking” documentary When the Beat Drops.

Sept 8, 15, 16, 22, 23
Unique LA; The Grove • Platform

Peruse handmade wares during this pair of free pop-up events from the celebrated market series.

Sept 13
Silver Lake Picture Show; Sunset Triangle Plaza

Cruise over to Silver Lake for the final, free outdoor showing of the season, Rush Hour

Sept 14–16, 21–23

Escort your pooch to this art exhibition designed for dogs.

Sept 15
Glendale Open Arts & Music Festival; Downtown Glendale

Get to know Downtown Glendale at this free community festival with music from Allah-Las, arts and craft markets, beer and wine gardens and more.

Sept 15
Long Beach Zine Fest; Expo Arts Center

Meet more than 120 local writers, designers, cartoonists and artists at this showcase of independent publishing.

Sept 22
Frogtown Art Walk; Various locations

Make your way to the L.A. River-adjacent neighborhood for live music and open galleries.

Sept 22
Museum Day Live!; Various locations in L.A.

Art lovers can spend a day at select museums for free during this one-day event hosted by Smithsonian magazine. 

Sept 22
Tarfest; La Brea Tar Pits

Pay tribute to L.A.’s bubbly asphalt pools with this annual afternoon of live music, DJs, dance and live artwork.

Sept 22, 23
Union Station’s Retrocade Experience; Union Station

Leave the quarters at home and take advantage of free play on over 40 arcade cabinets.

Sept 28
Ai Weiwei; LACMA

Amid a trio of L.A. exhibitions, the Chinese artist sits down with LACMA director Michael Govan.

Sept 28–Mar 3
“Ai Weiwei: Life Cycle”; Marciano Art Foundation

The acclaimed Chinese artist takes over the Marciano’s massive theater gallery, including an inflatable boat inspired by the refugee crisis as well as Ai’s floor-covering “Sunflower Seeds” and “Spouts” pieces.

Sept 29–Jan 5
“Ai Weiwei: Zodiac”; Jeffrey Deitch

Distinguished art dealer Jeffrey Deitch inaugurates his new L.A. gallery with LEGO zodiac portraits and 6,000 wooden Ming and Qing dynasty stools from Ai Weiwei.

Sept 29
Surf City Surf Dog; Huntington Dog Beach

Start teaching your pooch how to carve waves for this annual K-9 surf competition.

Sept 29, 30
Watts Towers Day of the Drum and Simon Rodia Jazz Festival; Watts Towers

Get your feet stomping at this annual duo of pan-African and jazz festivals.

Sept 30
Abbot Kinney Festival; Abbot Kinney

Take every artsy street fair you’ve ever attended and add in innumerable food trucks plus all the stereotypes about Venice.

Sept 30
Celebrate LA!; Various locations

Pedal your way from Downtown L.A. (where the Walt Disney Concert Hall will be bathed in projections from artist Refik Anadol) to Hollywood as this sprawling CicLAvia event culminates in the LA Phil’s free 100th anniversary, Katy Perry-headlined concert at the Hollywood Bowl.

Free concerts; Various locations

Listen to some tunes without breaking the bank with free shows at the Echo, the Satellite, Grand Park and more.

Free museum days; Various locations

Make the most of free days at LACMA, the Natural History Museum and more, plus always-free museums like the Hammer, Getty and Broad.