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Bob Baker Day
Photograph: Courtesy Ian Byers-Gamber

Free things to do in Los Angeles this month

Make the most of your month without breaking into your wallet.

Michael Juliano
Written by
Michael Juliano
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Every music festival and major concert announcement has us sweating as we think about the dent it’ll put in our bank account. But don’t worry, there are thankfully quite a few free things to do this April (in addition to the usual free museum days and free attractions, of course) to balance out all of that big spending. From a book fest to a puppet performance, these are the best ways to make the most of your month without breaking into your wallet.

The best free things to do in L.A. this month

  • Things to do
  • Festivals
  • 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 300-plus exhibitors, this year’s event includes an always-impressive lineup of more than 500 speakers: Jose Andres, Ed Begley Jr., Sophia Bush, Jon Favreau, Max Greenfield, Tiffany Haddish, Tamron Hall, Mark Harmon, RuPaul, Kerry Washington, Henry Winkler and more, plus a cooking stage with Nancy Silverton, QCP and Tiffani Thiessen, among others.

Admission to the festival and its seven outdoor stages are free, though admission to indoor talks come with a small ticketing fee. Reservations for those aren’t available until April 14 but if you want to secure a spot now, you can purchase a “friend of the festival” package, which lets you reserve up to 20 panel tickets (plus some other perks) for $85.

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  • Things to do
  • Performances
  • 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. This year’s event includes an appearance by David Arquette as Bozo the Clown, a kid’s talent show hosted by Kate Micucci, music from Very Be Careful and a kickoff with legendary puppeteer Sid Krofft.

  • Things to do

Walk, run, skate, bike and explore car-free stretches of South Pasadena, Alhambra and San Gabriel during the latest edition of this open streets event series. The Metro-presented 626 Golden Streets clears cars off the road in different parts of the San Gabriel Valley for one day only. On Sunday, April 28 you’ll be able to set foot on five miles of streets sans cars, from Mission Street in South Pasadena, down Marengo Avenue and along Alhambra Road, Main Street and Las Tunas Drive toward Mission Drive in San Gabriel (hence the “Mission-to-Mission” name of this particular event).

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  • Things to do
  • Festivals
  • East Hollywood

Learn how to decorate a traditional Ukrainian Easter egg (a pysanka, which features colorful wax applied to the egg) during this free community festival on Melrose. The Ukrainian Culture Center hosts an afternoon with Ukrainian food, entertainment and an Easter market. Though the event is free to attend, donations are accepted at the door; those as well as food and vendor proceeds benefit humanitarian war relief through the Ukrainian Art Center
and Post Angeles.

  • Things to do
  • Atwater Village

Pick up litter along the L.A. River for a couple of hours and learn about its history along the way during this free cleanup event. L.A. Waterkeeper is inviting Angelenos to register for a meetup at North Atwater Park, where you’ll begin picking up debris and then walk away with some native seed bombs to support local pollinators.

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  • Art
  • Painting
  • Beverly Hills

Did this past year’s Basquiat exhibition in DTLA leave you wanting more? Head to Beverly Hills where Gagosian will be displaying 50 rarely loaned Jean-Michel Basquiat pieces that were created in L.A. during the iconic artist’s time spent at his Venice studio between 1982 and 1984.

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  • Art
  • 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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  • Art
  • 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
  • Miracle Mile

Judy Baca’s half-mile–long The Great Wall of Los Angeles, a collaborative mural painted in the ’70s along the Tujunga Wash, has received all sorts of museum love in the past few years. But LACMA has a particularly unique show to boast about: The local Chicana muralist and SPARC artists will paint two new sections of The Great Wall during museum hours. As long as you live in L.A. County, you can visit LACMA for free on weekdays after 3pm. 

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