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.
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.
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.
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.
Los Angeles gets a taste of Broadway once a week on Musical Mondays (MuMo) at the massive Eleven Nightclub. Unlike most nights, when the latest Top 40 dance hits can be heard in heavy rotation at the Santa Monica Boulevard hotspot, the genre of choice on Mondays at Eleven is musicals... purely musicals. For one night only, Gaga, Beyoncé, Madonna and Rihanna take a backseat while the songs of musical legends like Barbra Streisand, Patti LuPone, Kristen Chenowith and Linda Eder rule the stage. A mix of live performances and videos of classic moments from Broadway and film make this not only one of the most feel-good nights of the week, but also one heck of a reason to actually look forward to Mondays.
As far as obscure holidays go, this one is arguably the most sophisticated. Founded by cellist Dale Henderson under the streets of New York City, Bach in the Subways takes place annually on the birthday of German composer, Johann Sebastian Bach, to bring public enthusiam to the beautiful and increasingly forgotten art of classical music. On March 21 to 25, soundtrack your commute with free performances throughout Union Station, train platforms and other public spaces with everything from an organ recital to a flute choir. Check the full schedule for performance details and locations.
Eliasson began planning his first major L.A. exhibition in a decade about two years ago, when he first set foot in the then-under-construction. He started with a large-scale model of the installation and began removing elements until he was left with the finished work: a series of projectors and color gels that turns the massive space into a sort of illumianted X-ray. The space may look like an oddly aligned movie screen at first, but step forward and look behind you to see the magical mechanisms at work. Reality Projector positions slowly moving lights in the buildings rafters, and as they slide along they cast colorful shadows through a series of strategically placed filters. As a result, the guts and bones of the building become part of the artwork—as does the viewer, as part of that larger space. Eliasson tapped fellow Icelandic artist and Sigur Rós frontman Jónsi to create a clattering ambient score that accompanies the slowly shifting installation. He also designed two hanging spheres in the museum’s lobby: one lit by LEDs with silver coated glass, the other a more colorful cluster of handblown glass illuminated by an incandescent lamp. You can visit the installation for free at the Maricano Art Foundation from March 1 to August 25, though advance reservations are required.
Mermaid selfies are about to become a thing thanks to the arrival of a pop-up mermaid museum in in Hollywood. The POPSUGAR x Freeform Mermaid Museum is heading to Goya Studios at the end of March with all sorts of social media-ready installations in tow, including a tank with a live mermaid. Don’t expect colorful clamshells and Broadway tunes, though; the Mermaid Museum is tied to Freeform’s upcoming series Siren and takes an eerie approach to the mythical feature (see the sort of terrifying photo above). You’ll begin with a walk through the Bristol Cove Mermaid Shop, an artifact-filled shop inspired by the show, and continue on to a photo op that lets you look like a mermaid floating in an underwater garden. The pop-up also includes a room with 360-degree projections of underwater life, an interactive sequin scale wall and the aforementioned mermaid tank. You can swing by the Siren-inspired POPSUGAR x Freeform Mermaid Museum at Goya Studios (1541 N Cahuenga Blvd) On March 22 and 23 from 3 to 9pm and March 24 and 25 from noon to 6pm. Admission is free.
Scope out 160 pieces from 65 artists at this annual juried group exhibition housed inside of the Soap Plant/Wacko complex. You can pick up works from some familiar names as well as largely undiscovered, emerging talent including commercial illustrators, graphic designers, tattooists, scenics, students, street taggers, animators and working gallery artists.