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.
One of L.A.’s best free live music offerings, Jazz at LACMA has featured such legends as Wayne Shorter, John Clayton, Kenny Burrell, Les McCann, Billy Childs, Arturo Sandoval, Cannonball-Coltrane Project and Ernie Watts. Celebrating over 20 years at the museum, the program continues to be one of the museum’s most recognizable (and beloved) programs. It’s a celebration of L.A.’s finest jazz musicians, and more than 42,000 visitors attend the program annually from April through November, making it a true L.A. rite of passage.
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.
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.
The Skirball puts on its annual series of free summer concerts, highlighting indie, folk and world music from L.A. and beyond. Guests can arrive early and visit the museum’s galleries for free, dine under the stars and grab a seat for the show in the beautiful central courtyard. Mosey around the Jim Henson and Leonard Bernstein retrospectives, which will stay open late and also for free. Attendees are encouraged to sing along, dance in the aisles and gather at the foot of the stage to celebrate with the performers. The concert is free, but parking is $10 cash only.
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.
The best things in life really are free—love, happiness and an evening spent watching movies on a giant inflatable screen at the beach. On select dates from June until August, pack up your folding chairs, grab your kids and head to Long Beach for this unique outdoor screening. Thanks to Alfredo’s Beach Clubs, you can give your babysitter the night off while you and the fam enjoy a host of kid-friendly flicks, like Mary Poppins and The Incredibles. Bring your own picnic, or munch on eats from the nearby snack stand.
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.
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...."
The Original Farmers Market is host to a plethora of fun, family-friendly outdoor events, and its summer music series are some of its best. Take a load off at the end of the work week and stop by the West Patio from 7 to 9pm to hear live music during or after your shopping trip or dinner al fresco.
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.
America’s largest pro surfing competition attracts the world’s elite, who compete for big money while wowing 200,000 beach boys and girls with their skill, grace and innovative board designs. Heating up the festivities are live bands, a sports expo and after-parties with the friendly locals.
The Music Center offers a free, joyous mashup of music and dancing all summer long, with different themes (90s, line dancing, cumbia, etc.) and free dance lessons plus live bands. Dance Downtown switches off every week with DJ Nights, with a late night bar menu and DJs. Head to Grand Park and join in the fun—no dance experience required.
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.
Adopt your new best friend at this exclusively cat and kitten adoption event. Meet over 500 adoptable, previously spayed and neutered cats from Best Friends LA and NKLA Coalition partners looking for homes. The event is free to attend, and adoption fees start as low as $10 and include pet goodies. You’ll find the event at UrbanFutsal LA in Lincoln Heights; head to 2131 Humboldt Street to find the front entrance.
Ragnar Kjartansson’s mesmerizing, musical video installation The Visitors returns as part of this free exhibition about the passage of time. The show includes more than 50 works from the likes of Gregory Crewdson, Andreas Gursky, Glenn Ligon and Anselm Kiefer. The exhibition also marks the L.A. debut of works from Sharon Lockhart, Sherrie Levine and Ed Ruscha, whose monumental diptych Azteca/Azteca in Decline will be on display.
What better way to liven up a Thursday night than to cruise over to Silver Lake’s new Sunset Triangle Plaza for some gratis entertainment? Every other week through September, grab a summer snack, retire your wallet for the night and relax in front of the big screen. The Silver Lake Picture Show features your ultimate favorites, but not before spotlighting a short from a local filmmaker. Bring the fan and your friends to this free sampling of Eastside talent and a classic flick—this one’s a no-brainer.
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.
The fourth in an ongoing series of biennial exhibitions focuses on work created by 32 emerging and under-recognized L.A. artists. Within every gallery of the Hammer Museum, you'll find debut and recent work across all mediums: painting, installation, video, sculpture, photography and performances created expressly for the event.
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.