Los Angeles Culture Challenge: Summer 2016 Edition

Summer 2016Summer is the perfect time to explore and take advantage of all that Los Angeles has to offer. This summer make a pact to visit a new area of Los Angeles or participate in a new activity—a cultural art project, a concert in a special outdoor setting, a festival celebrating a unique culture, or a bike ride exploring a new part of Los Angeles, just to mention a few options. The experience will open your eyes to the richness of where we live. You’ll be amazed at what’s available to us.

Two events I highly recommend take place this summer—Los Angeles River Ride and CicLAvia. We have participated in both, LA River Ride 4 years ago (so we’re due a repeat) and CicLAvia many times. The CicLAvia route this summer is one I’ve done before and really enjoyed, though this summer’s route is a little shorter. Now with the new Metro Expo Line extension running, Westsiders can easily get to Downtown LA to participate. Read on for details and links to both events.

This summer, my goal is to give Chinatown Summer Nights a try. It’s been on my radar for a few summers now and we’ve never had a chance to go. Hopefully, this summer is the year we finally do it. What do you think your family will explore this summer?


Getty Family FestivalFamily Festival, Getty Center, Saturday, June 11, 10am-6pm. Navigate the myriad cultures of the Silk Road and beyond in this family festival inspired by the exhibitions Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China’s Silk Road and Traversing the Globe Through Illuminated Manuscripts. With hands-on workshops and interactive events, you can make your own book, write a couple of Chinese characters, witness the beauty of calligraphy from the Middle Kingdom, be entranced by stories of Buddha in animal forms, and feel the world’s interconnectedness through music and dance from China to Peru.

16th annual river ride16th Annual Los Angeles River Ride, Autry Center in Griffith Park, Sunday, June 12. What better way to explore the city we live in than by bike. Join over 2,000 other riders and enjoy a great day of bicycling fun, exploration, a post-ride expo, a raffle, live music, and more. 7 great rides: 100-mile, 70-mile, 50-mile, 36-mile, 25-mile, 15-mile Family Ride, plus a 2-mile Kids’ Ride + Festival. All participants receive a t-shirt, goodie bag, and finisher’s medal. Kids 12 and under ride for free for all rides. All proceeds benefit the work of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, the only non-profit organization working to make all communities in L.A. County healthy, safe, and fun places to ride bikes.

Bayou Festival 201630th Annual Long Beach Bayou Festival, Rainbow Lagoon Park, Long Beach, Saturday, June 18, & Sunday, June 19. Experience the Bayou with this two-day family festival featuring authentic Cajun and Creole food, cultural music, dance lessons, crawfish eating contests, a children’s corner with arts and crafts and other activities, and a Mardi Gras parade. There will also be live performances at the Zydeco Stage, Blues Stage, and Children’s Stage.

Big Irish Fair & MusicfestBig Irish Fair & MusicFest, El Dorado Park, Long Beach, Saturday, June 18, & Sunday, June 19. This festival features 16 areas of music, song, and dance; sports such as Irish football and hurling; a walk through the legends and lore of ancient Ireland at Tara Village; a Children’s Leprechaun Kingdom; Irish Art Show; a marketplace with Irish import and gift shop vendors; and special events such as a Grand Parade of the Irish, a sheep herding show, and an Irish dog show.

Chinatown Summer NightsChinatown Summer Nights, Downtown LA, 3rd Saturdays during summer months (6/18, 7/16, and 8/20), 5pm-12am. Part food event, part summer party, Chinatown Summer Nights presents an exciting hot spot for Angelenos this summer. Taste the many culinary offerings of Chinatown and LA’s gourmet food trucks; sample the neighborhood’s wares; watch Chinese chefs perform cooking demonstrations; experience large-scale, outdoor video projections; take part in hands-on, Chinese cultural activities presented by local organizations and museums; sip on craft brews and dance in Central Plaza with 89.9 KCRW’s DJs.

CicLAviaCicLAvia – Iconic Wilshire Boulevard, Sunday, August 14, 9am-4pm. CicLAvia heads back to Iconic Wilshire Boulevard as Koreatown, Westlake, and Downtown Los Angeles host another open streets event. Streets will be closed to cars and open for cyclists, pedestrians, runners, and skaters to use as a recreational space. You will enjoy the sights, music, food, and culture that make LA such a vibrant city.


Undiscovered Chinatown Walking TourUndiscovered Chinatown Walking Tour, Downtown LA, first Saturday of each month, 10:30am-1pm. Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more when guided to the unique treasures–not to mention great bargains–to be found in Chinatown. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of L.A.’s Chinatown.

Barnsdall Art Park SundaysBarnsdall Art Sundays, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, every Sunday, 10am-12pm. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. This summer explore Mexico, India, Japan, Tibet, USA, Medieval Europe, Australia, Canada, and China through a variety of projects. See website for schedule.


skirball-for-families-amphitheater-newFamily Amphitheater Performances: The Sounds of Our City, Skirball Cultural Center, Saturdays & Sundays, June 25 – September 4. This summer, the Skirball’s family amphitheater series honors the diverse cultural communities of Los Angeles through the eclectic sounds of our city—from son jarocho to indie rock to Yiddish folk tunes. Put on your dancing shoes, get your groove on, share stories, and discover the many musical traditions of LA! Performances run every Saturday and Sunday from June 25 through September 4. See website for full schedule.

Grand PerformancesGrand Performances, California Plaza, Downtown LA, June – August. Grand Performances bring artists and audiences together by thoughtfully curating an array of music, dance, film, and spoken word featuring great artists from around the globe and our very own streets of L.A. The summer series of free outdoor concerts celebrates our city’s rich diversity through performing arts at a stunning outdoor venue in Downtown LA. See website for schedule of performances.


summersounds2016-headSummerSounds: World Music for Kids, Hollywood Bowl, weekday mornings, July 11 – August 5. SummerSounds is a fun-filled, four-week series of lively concerts combined with art workshops. Join their dynamic hosts as they lead you on a journey to discover music, dance, and art from cultures around the world. Situated in the intimate setting of the Hollywood Bowl Museum patio, SummerSounds features four different programs, each highlighting a distinct music tradition – a new show every week. Two performances daily. This summer’s program includes music from USA, France, Japan, and Mexico. See website for schedule and ticket information.

Ford AmphitheatreFord Family Series: Big World Fun, Ford Amphitheatre, Hollywood, Saturday mornings, July & August. Travel the world without leaving LA, as groups representing music and dance from Mexico, the Philippines, Japan, and more enchant and delight. The Big World Fun family series takes place on Saturday mornings at 10:00 a.m. in July and August. These hour-long music and dance performances are for children ages 4 to 12 and their families. Come early to explore wild animals, get busy with craft activities, and grab a bite before the show. See website for schedule of performances and ticket information.

Annenberg Space for PhotographyREFUGEE, The Annenberg Space for Photography, Century City, ongoing until August 21. Through images created by five internationally acclaimed artists, REFUGEE explores the lives of refugees from a host of diverse populations dispersed and displaced throughout the world. The exhibit features photographs taken in Bangladesh, Cameroon, Colombia, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Mexico, Myanmar, Serbia, Slovenia, and the United States.

Skylight StudiosNew Americans, Skylight Studios at The Annenberg Space for Photography, Century City, ongoing until August 21. In conjunction with the REFUGEE exhibit, the New Americans installation at Skylight Studios features a collection of stories on refugees who were resettled  in the United States to start a new life through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. The installation features “The Refugee Project,” an interactive visual narrative created from 40 years of UNHCR refugee data; New Roots, a long-form multimedia experience by visual journalist Sarah Ann Jump featuring a Congolese refugee family resettling in Rochester, New York; several short films of refugee families sharing their experiences as they resettle in California and adapt to their new lives; and a photo series by blogger and photographer Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York which features the personal stories of refugees recently cleared for resettlement in America.

Bowers-Museum-once-upon-the-timeOnce Upon a Time… Exploring the World of Fairy Tales, Kidseum at Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, ongoing until August 28. This is a unique and educational exhibit focusing on the power and significance of fairy tales throughout history and from around the world. From an African jungle to a giant’s castle, explore larger-than-life pages of seven favorite fairy tales. Enter via a magical portal into a fabulous storybook kingdom and learn the meaning and history of tales you’ve known all your life and others that may be new. Get into the story as you cross a wooden bridge in “Anansi and the Talking Melon,” play a harpsichord in “Beauty and the Beast,” try on a glass slipper in “Cinderella,” work at a cobblers bench in “The Elves and the Shoemaker,” climb a beanstalk in “Jack and the Beanstalk,” catch a wolf in “Lon Po Po,” and crawl through a mole’s hole in “Thumbelina.” See website for ticket and schedule information.

What do you think your family will explore this summer?

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