Los Angeles Culture Challenge: Summer 2017 Events

Summer is the perfect time to explore and take advantage of all that Los Angeles has to offer. This edition of the Culture Challenge shares events happening throughout the summer. You’ll find special one-time events, ongoing year-round events that continue through the summer, and unique programs just happening during the 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.

How will you explore the richness of Los Angeles this summer?


Family Festival, Getty Center, Saturday, June 3. Enjoy a day of celebration and discovery for the whole family inspired by magnificent historical scenes on view in the exhibition Eyewitness Views: Making History in Eighteenth-Century Europe, featuring performances, storytelling, and art-making workshops.

17th Annual LA River Ride, Autry Center in Griffith Park, Sunday, June 4. 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.

Kids in the Courtyard: Decoding Stories!, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, June 4, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. The Moche peoples of ancient Peru (100-800 C.E) portrayed complex scenes on painted vessels, depicting everything from daily life to rituals and legends. The scenes were created with such detail that archaeologists today can decode these images to learn about how Moche people lived. Come out and be an archaeologist for a day! Create your own coded picture language and see if others can decode your secret messages.

Irish Fair & Music Fest, El Dorado Park, Long Beach, Saturday, June 10, & Sunday, June 11. This is the largest such festival west of the Mississippi, and it has been around Southern California for more than 40 years. There will be many Irish bands, including the well-known Fenians. For the young folk, there will be a Leprechaun Village with rides, storytelling, and a Freckle Face competition. You are invited to join or just watch the daily St. Paddy parades. Also included in the entertainment line-up is a sheep herding exhibition. And of course, there will be plenty of Irish food and beverages.

CicLAvia – Glendale Meets Atwater Village, Sunday, June 11. Los Angeles welcomes a brand new CicLAvia route in June. Glendale and Atwater Village will host the country’s largest 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.

LA Film Festival, ArcLight Cinemas, Culver City, June 14-22. The LA Film Festival is a premier platform for new works from emerging and established independent storytellers with unique voices and innovative visions. Index of films by interest include the following: African Diaspora, Directors of Color, LA Stories, Latino/Latin America, LGBTQ+, Native American/Islander, Politics/Social Awareness, plus more. Most screenings and events take place at ArcLight Culver City, with additional screenings and events at venues around Los Angeles.

Kids in the Courtyard: Miniature Painting, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, June 18, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Miniature paintings illustrating books and manuscripts are an integral part of western Indian art traditions. Create your own painting on shrink plastic and watch it miniaturize before your eyes! Be sure to catch the miniature paintings and sparking silver jewelry in the Enduring Splendor: Jewelry of India’s Thar Desert exhibition.

31th Annual Long Beach Bayou Festival, Rainbow Lagoon Park, Long Beach, Saturday, June 24, & Sunday, June 25. 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.

Natsumatsuri Family Festival, Japanese American National Museum, Little Tokyo, Downtown LA, Saturday, August 13. Join JANM for their annual summer celebration featuring Japanese and Japanese American performances, crafts, and activities.


The Undiscovered Chinatown Walking Tour, Downtown LA, first Saturday of each month, 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. 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.

Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, last Saturday of each month, 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Relive history and learn about present-day Little Tokyo with JANM docents. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Weather permitting. Buy tickets in advance. Cost is $12 members, $15 non-members. Museum admission is included. Limited to 20 participants.

Barnsdall Art Sundays, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, every Sunday, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. This summer explore Ancient Greece (June 4), China (June 11), Ancient Maya (June 18), India (June 25), USA (July 2), Tibet (July 9), India (July 16), and Kenya (July 23) through a variety of projects. See website for more details.

Andell Family Sundays, LACMA, Los Angeles, every Sunday, 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays! Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 pm. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. Each month features a different theme: June—Follow the Rainbow, July—Travel to Egypt, and August—Flower Tour.

Roman Holidays, The Getty Villa, Malibu, Saturdays & Sundays, ongoing until September 3. You won’t need a passport to travel back in time at the Roman Holidays celebration this summer. Discover the sights (and smells!) of ancient Rome, offer your prayers to Venus, read your future in a sheep’s liver, and enjoy live musical and comedy performances by the historically hysterical Troubadour Theater Company.


Chinatown Summer Nights, Downtown LA, 1st Saturdays during summer months (7/1, 8/5, and 9/2), 5:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. 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!

Family Amphitheater Performances: All Around the World, Skirball Cultural Center, Saturdays & Sundays, July 1 – August 13. This year’s eclectic lineup of bands celebrates an array of musical styles—from the beats of Africa and Latin America to the American traditions of rockabilly and folk. Sing and dance along to music that inspired Paul Simon or was influenced by the legend himself. See website for full schedule.

Grand 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. Some performances are more appropriate for families than others. See website for schedule of performances.

Ford Family Series: Big World Fun, Ford Amphitheatre, Hollywood, Saturday mornings, July & August. Music and dance events that represent the diverse cultural landscape of Southern California are presented on Saturday mornings in July and August in the outdoor amphitheatre. Performances are appropriate for children ages 4 to 12 and their families. Children are admitted free and adults pay $5. 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.

Feel free to add events for the summer months in the comments below. I also welcome feedback on any events you have attended. If you have suggestions about future events and celebrations to include in upcoming months, please email me the details. Thank you!

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