“Free” and “summer” go together like coffee and doughnuts, or ice cream and another scoop of ice cream. We Angelenos love spending time outdoors and saving a few bucks here and there. What better time to do both than during the summer? L.A. wears that summertime vibe all year long, but these free things to do, including concerts and movie screenings, really let us know that summer has arrived.
The best free things to do in L.A. this summer
Everything’s better when it’s free, including these concerts, movie screenings and more free things to do this summer
One of L.A.’s best free live music offerings, Jazz at LACMA has featured legit legends over its three-decade run at the museum. The beloved program is back again for the season, and so too is its open seating and picnicking format (whereas last year you needed a reservation). You’ll find the series on Friday evenings in LACMA’s welcome plaza (just behind Urban Light) well into the fall.
Hilltop sunset views and rising bands combine to make this Getty tradition a worthy destination for Angelenos on both sides of the 405. Avoid the traffic and the crowds and arrive early. You’ll get to visit the exhibits (which stay open until 8pm starting in June) and beat the dinner rush.
Back for the first time since 2019, this year’s lineup of free Saturday night shows includes Zsela (May 21), Bartees Strange (June 18), Los Retros (July 9), Hand Habits (July 23) and Standing on the Corner (Aug 27).
Everyone’s favorite NPR member station has a hand in a slew of summer concert slates at public plazas and beloved museums, and this summer’s schedule is particularly packed. Familiar KCRW DJs and local buzz bands will be providing free, open-air tunes on select nights from July through September at the Hammer Museum, One Colorado, CAAM, Descanso Gardens, Bowers Museum, the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, JANM and—our favorite—the party-till-midnight bashes at Chinatown Central Plaza.
This epic (and free) outdoor concert series features live performances by artists from around the world at the totally overhauled California Plaza stage in DTLA, where the shallow water separating the stage from the audience has been replaced by a proper event lawn. Don’t miss a diverse and highly intriguing mix of bands, DJ sets and dance parties.
The beloved Getty Center turns 25 years young in 2022, and to celebrate the hilltop museum is hosting a series of free festivals across L.A. On most weekends this summer, the Getty will collaborate with a different local community partner on a two-day arts fair filled with music, workshops and food.
The lineup includes events in Inglewood (May 14, 15), Lincoln Heights (May 21, 22), Long Beach (June 4, 5), Koreatown (June 11, 12), Pacoima (June 25, 26), Reseda (July 9, 10), El Monte (July 16, 17), Wilmington (July 30, 31), Crenshaw (Aug 13, 14) and Watts (Aug 27, 28).
You know it’s summer in L.A. when the live outdoor music starts swelling all over the city, including at MacArthur Park’s Levitt Pavilion. The Westlake concert series returns this summer with free shows every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Expect a genre-spanning mix of local acts that range from cumbia to ska to EDM.
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 near the end of the work week and stop by the West Patio on Thursday nights from 6 to 8pm to hear a genre-spanning mix of live music, or Friday nights from 7 to 9pm for a lineup of tribute bands courtesy of E.B.’s Beer & Wine.
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. The concert is free (and reservations are required), but parking is $10 in advance or $20 at the venue.
This summer’s lineup includes Mamak Khadem (July 21), Rocky Dawuni (July 28), Nefesh Mountain (Aug 4), Booker T. Jones (Aug 11), Ak Dan Gwang Chil (Aug 18) and Son Rompe Pera (Aug 25).
Each summer, Bard fanatics watch their favorite works come to life at the historic Old Zoo in Griffith Park. Independent Shakespeare Co. puts on a series of lively productions each week, inviting audiences to take a seat on the grass (read: bring a picnic blanket) and enjoy performances like this season’s headliners: Knight of the Burning Pestle (July 2–31) and Macbeth (Aug 6–Sept 4).
You’ll find a few changes to the 2022 season that’ve carried over from last year: Since work is still underway on a permanent performance stage, the Independent Shakespeare Co. is instead setting up slightly farther up the hill at the Old Zoo. That means each performance will only be able to accommodate about 450 people, so reservations will be required. Registration opens on June 24.