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Free events in LA: Beverly Hills Art Show
Free events in LA: Beverly Hills Art Show

Free events in LA: The best free things to do in the city

Free events in LA are not hard to come by, if you know where to look. Use this guide to find the best free things to do.

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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

  • Museums
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Got a list of L.A. museums you haven’t visited yet? Clear your calendar for Museums Free-For-All, when museums all over the region throw open the doors for free admission. Over 30 museums will drop their admission fees on Saturday, March 23. It’s the perfect opportunity to knock a couple of cultural to-dos off your list, like the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, LACMA, Japanese American National Museum, GRAMMY Museum, the La Brea Tar Pits, the Skirball and more. You’ll still have to pay to see any exhibitions that require a special ticket and for parking, but we can’t say no to free admission. Look out for the full list of participating museums soon. (We’d suggest skipping any of L.A.’s always-free museums, as you can visit those admission-free on any other weekend.)

  • Things to do
  • Markets and fairs
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  • Downtown Arts District

Every Sunday you can find dozens of food vendors at this market at ROW DTLA, with a mix of much-loved pop-ups and future foodie stars. Look out for this year’s new vendors, including Basket Taco Co, Battambong Barbecue and Taste of the Pacific.

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  • Things to do
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The term CicLAvia stems from a similar Spanish word for “bike way,” and in L.A. it’s become a shorthand for the temporary, festival-like closing of L.A.’s streets. The event (inspired by the first Ciclovías in Bogotá, Colombia) welcomes bikes, tricycles, skateboards, strollers and basically anything else without an engine to ride a rotating cast of car-free routes. You’ll inevitably always find a route each year around Downtown, but past events have taken it anywhere from the harbor to the San Gabriel Valley. Expect music, street performances and food trucks, as well as general whimsy and shenanigans along the way. Shop owners and restaurants along the CicLAvia route also tend to host specials. It goes without saying that you should bike or take the Metro to your desired spot along the route.

  • Art
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  • Hollywood

What does living in L.A. look like? It’s a wildly different picture depending on each Angeleno’s point of view, and so to celebrate that diversity of perspectives, Hollywood gallery Jeffrey Deitch will display pieces from a dozen local artists that delve into underground economies, landscapes, surveillance, backyard hangouts and public transit, among other topics.

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  • Art
  • Contemporary art
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  • Downtown

This show at the Broad was supposed to debut in April of 2020 to kicks off the museum’s fifth anniversary, but, you know… the world had other plans. Thankfully, you’ll finally have a chance to see this free collection exhibition with a focus on L.A. artists, including Sayre Gomez, Toba Khedoori, Patrick Martinez and Barbara Kruger alongside an entire gallery dedicated to John Baldessari and Mike Kelley.

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  • Things to do
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Pasadena’s underrated collection of museums and performance spaces open up their doors for free at this biannual art celebration. Take advantage of the free shuttle buses or hoof it between site-specific installations and local institutions such as the Gamble House, Pacific Asia Museum and more. And, of course, no arts fest would be complete without food trucks, often including local bricks-and-mortar Pie ’n Burger and Twohey’s.

  • Things to do
  • Festivals
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  • Redondo Beach

This beautiful, free festival celebrates the history and whimsy of the kite. Watch as hundreds take to the sky, or bring your own—there will be contests for highest flying kite, best handmade kite and youngest kite flyer. You can also help to launch a 25-foot wide kite. There also tends to be a slew of (rather random) activities on the pier all day, including a hot dog on a stick eating contest and dance performances.

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  • Art
  • Street art
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  • La Brea

See over 200 of Gordon Matta-Clark’s photos, many of which have never been on display in public, from the earliest years of New York’s graffiti scene during this show at Beyond the Streets. The adjacent CONTROL Gallery will simultaneously present a new collection of local assembly artist Guillaume Ollivier’s works.

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  • Things to do
  • Festivals
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  • USC/Exposition Park

Bibliophiles flock to the USC campus for this L.A. Times-curated event, where you can roam stalls from booksellers and catch readings and panels from some of the most recognizable names in literature on April 20 and 21. In addition to the 250-plus exhibitors, expect an always-impressive lineup of speakers. Admission to the festival and its outdoor stages is free, though admission to indoor talks come with a small fee.

  • Things to do
  • Performances
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  • Chinatown

In celebration of the late Bob Baker, the namesake puppet theater hosts this annual celebration at Los Angeles State Historic Park. The free fest, which runs from 10am to 5pm, features puppet performances throughout the day, plus an assortment of crafts and activities that typically includes everything from bubbles to balloons to music.

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  • Things to do
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  • Chinatown

Take advantage of extended hours at a bunch of Chinatown galleries, shops and restaurants during this Friday night event series. You’ll find most of the galleries along Chung King Road, with other businesses in Chinatown Central Plaza and Far East Plaza.

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The first Rose Parade in 1890 was staged to show off California’s sun-kissed climate. The tradition is still going strong, complete with elaborate floral floats, musical performances and marching troupes (not to mention the crowning of the fresh-faced Rose Queen and her court), but the celebration now draws more than a million spectators who line the streets of Pasadena. The big Rose Bowl football game follows the parade. Later in the year, the event is spoofed with a day of costumed mayhem at the Doo Dah Parade. The parade—held on New Year’s Day—kicks off at 8am at the corner of Green Street and Orange Grove Boulevard before making its way east onto Colorado Boulevard. Near the end of the route, the parade turns north onto Sierra Madre Boulevard and concludes at Villa Street, where you can see the floats showcased.  Bleacher seats are available—about $120 in the TV zone and closer to $75 farther east—but you can grab a spot on the sidewalk for free. People traditionally camp out overnight, but if you’d rather show up the morning of, head east of Lake Avenue and you’ll have an easier time.

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  • Things to do
  • Festivals
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  • Hermosa Beach

It’s no emerald seaside, but Hermosa Beach injects a bit of Irish spirit into the coastal city for the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. Bagpipers, marching bands, cars decked out in green and festive pups from the Irish Setters Club of Southern California typically all make their way across the seven-block route. The parade kicks off near City Hall on Valley Drive, heads west on Pier Avenue and ends at the corner of Hermosa Avenue and 10th Street, with live music nearby at Pier Plaza.

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  • Art
  • Installation
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The desert-spanning biennial is back, with premieres of site-specific works from about a dozen artists. For its fifth iteration, Desert X will once again stage outdoor installations across about 40 miles of the Coachella Valley from March 8 to May 11, 2025.

  • Art
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  • Boyle Heights

Your favorite plush ’80s obsession meets the contemporary art market at this show from Corey Helford Gallery, which features pieces of Care Bears-inspired work by 75 currently working artists. Oh, and of course there’s a pop-up shop as part of the Boyle Heights-area show.

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  • Art
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  • Downtown Arts District

In 1993, artist Charles Gaines mounted “ The Theater of Refusal: Black Art and Mainstream Criticism,” a UC Irvine gallery show that responded to the country’s cultural and political crises with works from then-up-and-coming Black artists. Now, three decades later, Hauser & Wirth has revived the show in two parts: a small reprise of “The Theater of Refusal” with ’90s pieces from Gaines, Gary Simmons and Lorna Simpson, as well as a larger room that continues the show’s themes with recent works from Lauren Halsey, Rashid Johnson, Caroline Kent and more.

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