Find free events in LA to help you rediscover the city. Explore cultural institutions like the Getty and take advantage of some of the best live music LA has to offer without opening your wallet. Cheap eats are great, but nothing beats a free day out. Get inspired for your next date night or family outing with our list of free upcoming events.
RECOMMENDED: Full list of free things to do in LA
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.
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.
Start your weekends with this kid-friendly concert series, every Saturday morning this spring. Each week a different performer takes the stage at Santa Monica Pier's central plaza (next to Pier Burger) for a morning of engaging and interactive music, including feel-good reggae, dancey Latin, nature-inspired folk and "kindie" tunes.
Every Saturday and Sunday, the UCB franchise's longest-running, most beloved showcase starts when a base cast of the theater's current top-brass—including founding UCB members Matt Walsh, Matt Besser and Ian Roberts—takes the stage. Then they introduce the surprise celebrity alumnae and friends who will be joining them (think Horatio Sanz, Ben Schwartz, Adam Pally). And finally, another special guest takes the stage, a non-improviser (think Flea, Cat Power, Rebel Wilson, Lena Dunham) who opens the show with a personal story, that's deftly mined for laughs by the players. But you have to go to find out who's there—that's part of the fun. Looking for a cheap night out? Sunday shows are free, but seating is first-come, first-served, so be sure to arrive early.
Jason Rhoades grew up in a small town in the foothills outside of Sacramento—an equivalent of L.A.'s heartland. But Rhoades would go on to study in Oakland, San Francisco and L.A. That ideological division would inform his envelope-pushing installations, which often exuberantly approached politics, race, nationality, commerce, sex and gender through the use of neon signs, mechanical parts and readymade objects. Hauser Wirth & Schimmel has collected six such installations from the late artist in his first comprehensive L.A. retrospective. Rhoades would collect readymade objects and mechanical parts, and often work with neon. Just a quick note: Some subject matter in the exhibition may not be appropriate for children, though not any more so than your typical contemporary art museum.
In celebration of Bird LA Day—it's a thing—Audubon California is hosting a rooftop bird-watching session and Q&A on the over 400 species of birds in and around the city. To help your bird spotting, there will be binoculars, a spotting scope, field guides, visual aids, and some park maps—and cold beers, of course.
It’s been called the best raunch-fest in the City of Angels and it’s held weekly at Fubar, West Hollywood’s most alternative outpost. Every Thursday, moustached alt-nightlife-maestro Mario Diaz brings out boystown’s sexiest players for a night that kicks off the weekend with a healthy dose of testerone, a scantily clad, tattooed brigade of go-go boys and a contest that dares patrons to have their “members” photographed and judged at the climax of the party. Add in vintage gay porn playing on screens around the bar and you’ve got yet another one of those nights that helps Fubar live up to its reputation as “not your father’s gay bar.”
The Broad pulls 30 images from its own collection for Oracle, an examination of globalizing forces at work in contemporary society. The exhibition includes works from El Anatsui, Mark Bradford, Peter Halley, William Kentridge, Julie Mehretu, Shirin Neshat, Albert Oehlen, Jeff Wall and Terry Winters, plus recent acquisitions by Ericka Beckman, Sterling Ruby, Oscar Murillo, Tauba Auerbach and Andreas Gursky.
Angel City Brewery celebrates its fifth year in its swanky Downtown digs with the Heritage Music & Arts Festival. The annual beer, food, art and music festival features brewmaster-led tours every hour for a behind-the-scenes look at how house craft brews are made. Fill up on grub from local food trucks, and when you're ready to break from eating and drinking, rock out to L.A. musical talents, check out live painting, and rummage through artisanal wares from local artisans at the Beer Bazaar.
Catch an afternoon of free tunes outside of the Geffen Contemporary with this quarterly concert series from MOCA. For the inaugural event, the lineup includes the Memphis-meets-L.A. rapper Xavier Wulf, hip-hop collective WeDidIt, dubby psych experimentalist Sun Araw, afro punk band F U Pay Us and NTS DJ Alima.
Watch three sci-fi classics from three separate eras—Blade Runner, Them!, Here—in Union Station's historic ticketing hall (wiht the exception of Them!, which screens on the north patio) at this free screening series. Brief remarks from a special guest will precede each screening.
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...."
Celebrate the bloom of Echo Park Lake's beloved floating flowers with the annual Lotus Festival. Expect plenty of food, music, dragon boat races and, of course, the lotus flower beds in full bloom. The historic event celebrates the contributions of Asian-Americans to L.A., and this year, the 37th, will honor the Bangladeshi community.
Conspiracy theorists and eight year olds rejoice: There are orbit-bound robots hidden away in the San Gabriel foothills and you can visit them. Once a year, NASA and Caltech open the doors to its robotic research lab for two days of tours, demos and presentations. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) oversees the research, fabrication and piloting of unmanned missions like Voyager and the Mars rovers. As such, one of the highlights of the open house is a bird's-eye view of the clean room where the probes come together—if you're lucky, they'll be building a spacecraft inside. Other highlights include a tour of mission control, a walk through of the machine shop and an open-air display of rover prototypes. Due to the event's incredible popularity, JPL has switched to a ticketing system; admission is still free, but all guests will be required to have a ticket to enter. See our photos from JPL Open House 2014.
Take a visual tour of materialism, celebrity culture and social status over the past 25 years at Generation Wealth, an exhibition from L.A.-based photographer Lauren Greenfield. The Annenberg Space for Photography show isn't exactly about the rich, but rather the desire for more and the gap between what we want and what we can afford.
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.
Say hello to the first weekly stand-up comedy show in Highland Park. Every Thursday night from 8pm-10pm, the Collective Arts Incubator will be home to Hi! Highland Park, a free show that will bring great comics from around the country such as Laurie Kilmartin and Allen Strickland from Conan, Ron Babcock from Adam DeVine's House Party, and Matt Ingebretson, one of Time Out L.A.'s comedians to watch in 2017. Hi! Highland Park is based on donations, which can be made here. The show is produced by Paloonis Productions and is hosted by Colin Hughes and special guests. Check the Facebook for more details on upcoming shows.
Stroll through the spectular gardens at both Getty locations in celebration of National Public Gardens Day. At the Getty Center, gardens supervisor Michael DeHart leads a free garden tour at 10:30am. Swing by the Restaurant for a garden-themed salad as well as an herb-heavy cocktail menu. Over at the Getty Villa, Michael De Hart leads a toga tour of the Villa gardens at 1pm. Both museums' restaurants will have special garden-themed menus while both gift shops will offer the Seeing the Getty box set free with any $50 purchase.
The term CicLAvia (Spanish for "bike way”) can also be used to describe a temporary closing of L.A.'s streets. The event—inspired by the first Ciclovías in Bogotá, Colombia—welcomes bikes, tricycles, skateboards, strollers and smiles (sounds cheesy, but it's true) to ride a rotating cast of car-free routes. While most rides center around Downtown, past events have taken the event to Wilshire Boulevard, Venice and South L.A. Wherever it is, expect music, street performances and food trucks, as well as general whimsy and shenanigans. Shop owners and restaurants along the CicLAvia route will also open their doors. It goes without saying that you should bike or take the Metro to your desired spot along the route.
Slur your way through tricky vocabulary words at this drunken spelling bee. Comedians Billy Parker and Mandy Levy host this boozed up competition; take a shot and attempt to spell out a word, and if you're successful you get a free shot and another word. The last person standing is crowned the winner and can claim half of the prize pot.
Celebrate the arts, history and ethnic diversity of Northeast Los Angeles at this annual music, dance and art festival. The three-day fest honors Charles Lummis, the journalist and activist who founded the Southwest Museum, built his own house (the Lummis Home) by hand and worked toward a more multicultural LA. The event takes place across four locations—Occidental College, Southwest Museum, Avenue 50 & York Boulevard and Sycamore Grove Park—with free shuttle service between each location, as well as by Metro stops.
Food trucks, open galleries and late-night shop hours—it's the triumvirate of L.A. street fest staples in full force at First Fridays. The monthly Abbot Kinney celebration brings out locals and distant Angelenos alike for bites and sales in the fashionable Venice 'hood. Show up early to find a parking spot, otherwise you'll waste time circling for spots when you could've been lining up for that cheesy goodness from the perennial-favorite Grilled Cheese Truck.
Don't be shy about stripping down to your skivvies. After roaming the 400 stalls at this arts festival, sampling the fine foods and listening to the music, you may want to take it off for a dip in the nearby Pacific. Look out for the Fiesta over both Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.
Forget blogs: Get out from behind your computer screen and into the world of printed lit at L.A. Zine Fest. The all-day event showcases over 175 exhibitors of zines, small press publications and comics from across the country, bringing together the best of SoCal nerds for the exchange of art, ideas and more. Don't miss the fest's free readings and workshops on niche topics like "how to run your own DIY music venue."
Cruise Downtown L.A.'s galleries every second Thursday of the month at a Downtown Art Walk. These free self-guided gallery tours highlight DTLA's art spaces, many of which feature local artists. It's not the best art in L.A., but more than 25,000 visitors attend each month and many of the local businesses participate as well. The boundaries of the tour are 4th and 7th streets and Spring and Main streets, but some of the participating galleries are outside that area. To see a map of the galleries and to make a custom guide for your next trip, click here. Check the website for specific details each month. After the Art Walk, find a restaurant or bar in the Arts District with our neighborhood guide.