There are plenty of things to do in our November 2014 events calendar before you need to start thawing that turkey. Balance the upcoming holidays with equal parts generosity—try one of these volunteer opportunities—and gluttony—gorge on the best pies in Los Angeles for Thanksgiving. So bundle up (or strip down; it's still LA, after all) with affordable, essential fall fashion and take advantage of all there is to do in our November 2014 events calendar.
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And they're off! On Friday and Saturday, the grand finale of the thoroughbred horseracing season makes its way to Santa Anita Park. Cheer on your favorite horses during the two-day celeb-studded championship races. Grab a bite to eat at the Taste of LA food court, and catch a post-race concert in the infield at Songs in the Saddle. And make sure to dress to impress for the Fascinators & Fedoras contest: The lady with the best fascinator (that's a fancy phrase for a headpiece) and the man with the best fedora could each win a $10,000 Westfield Mall gift card. Race hours vary, check the schedule for details.
This is one of our favorite events, not just during Halloween, but of the entire year. Hollywood Forever Cemetery hosts the largest Day of the Dead celebration in California, with art exhibitions, dance rituals, musical performances, children's arts and crafts projects and food vendors aplenty. You'll see altars to the dead created by community artists, and can either watch or participate in the calaca (skeleton) costume contest. In honor of the fest's 15th anniversary, this year's theme is quinceañera. It's sure to be a spectacular display, as always. And there's something to be said for a Halloween event that respects and celebrates the very (and often forgotten) roots of the holiday.
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Ready your best overalls, red bow and cat ears: Hello Kitty Con is coming. This first ever official Hello Kitty convention is taking over the Geffen in Little Tokyo for four days of workshops, panels, speakers and oh-so-much merch. Celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Sanrio supercute icon with a trip to the Hello Kitty Super Supermarket or the pop-up tattoo parlor—no henna here, we're talking legit, hardcore Hello Kitty ink. Elsewhere in the exhibit, you'll find a vintage boutique, arcade—Sanrio World Smash Ball! anyone?—art installations and a huggable meet and greet with the cat herself. Each ticket also comes with free admission to the "Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty" exhibit at JANM.
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This is a rare opportunity to hear composer Danny Elfman perform some of his most famous compositions from his 27-year collaboration with director Tim Burton. Among the fruits of that collaboration? The Nightmare Before Christmas (Danny Elfman will sing the role of Jack Skellington as in the film), Edward Scissorhands, Batman, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, Beetlejuice and more. John Mauceri will conduct the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra and the Page LA Choir. If that wasn't enough, clips from the films and Burton's artwork will also play during the performance. Before this series of shows last year (which sold out in just days), Elfman hadn't performed in the U.S. since 1995 (when he was with Oingo Boingo–fun fact!).
HARD is back, this time at the Fairplex in Pomona, for a two-day fest featuring some pretty badass headliners including Knife Party, Pretty Lights, Diplo, Calvin Harris, Zedd and Bassnectar. Plus, progressive-house prodigies Deadmau5 and Eric Prydz will team up on Saturday night for back-to-back sets. Oh, and how could we forget: There's a zipline that'll drop you off right at the far end of the main stage.
Come get a free preview of two of the biggest films of the season—as well as many others—at the 28th annual AFI Festival. A Most Violent Year will premiere at the opening night gala of the eight-day fest on November 6 with a screening and red carpet event. Each day, a mix of films, lectures and special discussions will be offered at a variety of venues, including Grauman's Chinese Theater, the Chinese 6 and the Egyptian Theatre. The complete schedule of events is listed online, but highlights include centerpiece galas; special screenings; as well as a world cinema, short films, breakthrough films and a competition for first- and second-time filmmakers. All film tickets are free, but limited.
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After the sleek, commercial sound of El Camino, the Black Keys return to a more soulful groove on the new Turn Blue. Produced again by Danger Mouse (of Broken Bells fame), the blues-y Ohio natives float through some nifty psych on the record. It's mellow, for certain, but lest you think that won't fare well live, there is a fresh spritz of Pink Floyd to the affair. The Keys swing through LA to play the Forum November 6.
Smoggy, sprawling, traffic-choked LA is becoming a cliche of the past: We're revitalizing the LA River, filling out the city's public transit options and increasingly building upwards. Design East of La Brea (de LaB) is assembling the people responsible for reshaping the city during Making LA, part design conference, part urban exploration. Over the course of an afternoon, panels, presentations and tours will touch on four gamechanging themes: water, transportation, density and community. Speakers include musician and architecture blogger Moby, Compton Mayor Aja Brown, earthquake authority Dr. Lucy Jones, KCRW's Frances Anderton and a slew of other design experts, city officials, artists and local luminaries who are literally making LA. Tickets include drinks, breakfast and a sack lunch for the afternoon mini excursions; splurge for a VIP pass and you're invited to mingle with the speakers the night before at Greenbar Craft Distillery's new tasting room in the Arts District.
This weekend, Spaceland, DoLA and Downtown Events present the inaugural Downtown Festival in the newly-renovated Regent Theater. For just $25 for a two-day pass (this is an amazing deal, friends), see LA darlings YACHT headline on Friday, along with Jerome LOL, Beginners and Sage Caswell. On Saturday Connan Mockasin headlines with Lydia Ainsworth, Corners and Mr. Elevator & the Brain Hotel. KCRW DJ Travis Holcombe will spin between sets. It's gonna be fun.
Further proof that San Pedro is becoming a certified destination point: The Festival 2014, a craft beer festival, is coming to Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles on November 8 and 9. Benefitting Sharefest, a youth mentorship group, the Festival will be led by local craft beer house Brouwerij West, which is slated to open its brewery and gastropub in winter 2014. Buy a ticket for a few drinks, a half day, a whole day, or even a weekend pass, and gain access to over 70 U.S. and international craft beer companies: Anchorage Brewing, Shmaltz, Siren, The Monarchy, and Torrance's very own Monkish Brewing, to name a few. Of course, what's an afternoon of beers without some food to nosh on? Greenspan's Grilled Cheese, Waterloo & City, Vella Pizza and a few more tried-and-true restaurants will be on hand to soak up some of that alcohol.