We found a number of notable events happening in Southern California in February to help plan your social calendar. Read on for all our event picks and details.
Feb. 1, 8, 15 and 22
The Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena presents the film series, Unknown Fates, screening films every Friday in February. The four films “ponder the fate of their complex protagonists and the burning question: Will they or won’t they end up together?” The series begins with Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948) starring Louis Jourdan and Joan Fontaine, and directed by Max Ophüls, and continues with Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus (1950), Alain Resnais’ Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959) and Paul Fejos’ Lonesome (1928). The film series is free with museum admission ($12-$15). (Note: The Norton Simon is free on Feb. 1 as part of the Free First Fridays program.)
Yes, we hear there’s some sort of football game happening this weekend, but here’s a more cerebral alternative: More than 40 SoCal museums open their doors on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 2 and 3, and invite visitors to attend free of charge. Some institutions will be free both days, while others are participating on only one of the days. Museums include: the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, the Palm Springs Art Museum, the California African American Museum, California Science Center, Wende Museum of the Cold War, and even not-yet-opened Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, with a free pop-up at LACMA.
LA COOKIE CON AND SWEETS SHOW
The Annual LA Cookie Con and Sweets Show—the largest baking and pastry convention on the West Coast—returns for its fifth edition at the Anaheim Convention Center on Feb. 2 and 3. Exhibitors dole out delicious samples and freebies, while there are classes, panels and celebrity appearances for guests. Expect sweet, salty and savory treats. Tickets run $12 – $63.95 with VIP tickets allowing for early entry at 9:00 a.m.
With a song catalog that stretches more than five decades, the great Irish troubadour Van Morrison plays two nights at The Wiltern on Tuesday and Wednesday, Feb. 5 and 6. He’s currently on tour supporting his 2018 release, The Prophet Speaks. Tickets start at $98.
Feb. 5-March 10
Choreographer/director Matthew Bourne (the genius behind the choreography of Mary Poppins in London’s West End, and the all-male Swan Lake) brings his production of Cinderella to the Ahmanson Theatre in Downtown LA from Tuesday, Feb. 5 to Sunday, March 10. Bourne’s version sets the fairytale in the middle of the London Blitz during WWII. Prince Charming is a Royal Air Force pilot, the role of the fairy godmother is male and there are a bunch of step-siblings trying to ruin Cinderella’s life. The music is composed by Prokofiev. Tickets start at $30.
PAN AFRICAN FILM AND ART FESTIVAL
The 2019 Pan African Film and Art Festival (PAFF) runs from Thursday, Feb. 7 to Monday, Feb. 18 at Cinemark 15 in Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. The festival honors African filmmakers and artists from around the world, screening 170 new Black films and showcasing the art of more than 100 artists and craftspeople. The programming also includes spoken word events, talk backs, conversations and more. The festival opens with the Aretha Franklin concert documentary, Amazing Grace, directed by Sydney Pollack, at the Director’s Guild of America. (Opening Tickets: $125-$200, includes a reception.) Otherwise, adult general admission screening tickets are $14.
The Union of Vietnamese Student Associations (USVA) presents its annual Tết Festival—celebrating the Vietnamese Lunar New Year—from Friday through Sunday, Feb. 8-10, at the OC Fair and Event Center in Costa Mesa. Visitors will be immersed in cultural customs and dress as well as traditional foods, live entertainment, and games celebrating the Vietnamese New Year—the Year of the Pig. The festival includes the Làng Việt Nam (LVN), a replica of a traditional Vietnamese village as well as pho and balut (a developing chicken/duck embryo in the egg) contests. Admission: $6.
GOLDEN DRAGON PARADE + FESTIVAL
On Saturday, Feb. 9, the 120th annual Golden Dragon Parade & Chinese New Year Festival takes place in Chinatown, with the parade starting at Hill and Ord at 1:00 p.m. The Chinese New Year Festival takes place at Central Plaza in New Chinatown from 12:00 to 8:00 p.m. with arts & crafts, food vendors and trucks (including Lao Tao Taiwanese Street Food and Golden Dragon Restaurant), live performances, a marketplace and more.
The Music Center’s popular overnight event, Sleepless, returns from Saturday, Feb. 9 at 11:30 p.m. to Sunday, Feb. 10 at 3:00 a.m. This edition, Quinceañera Reimagined, is an experience that “honors, celebrates and re-invents the Quinceañera” playing with issues of class, gender sexuality and the power of women. The night features DJ sets, live bands, dance parties and art installations all over the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Highlights include: quince dances created and performed with a modern twist from by award-winning choreographer Leslie Ferreira; and bilingual voices including Punk Rock icon Alice Bag; the jazz and mariachi music of Nancy Sanchez; and live sets by DJ collective Chulita Vinyl Club. Tickets: $20-$30.
ART LOS ANGELES CONTEMPORARY
Art Los Angeles Contemporary (ALAC), LA’s contemporary art fair takes over the Barker Hanger in Santa Monica from Wednesday, Feb. 13 to Sunday, Feb. 17. Its 10th anniversary edition features 80 international established and emerging exhibitors, showcasing the artists they represent. Participating galleries include: 10 Chancery Lane Gallery, Hong Kong; Bortolami, New York; Marie Kirkegaard Gallery, Copenhagen; Klowden Mann, Los Angeles; UNION PACIFIC, London. ALAC also presents a programming series. Tickets: $25-$75.
STARTUP ART FAIR
The fledgling stARTup Art Fair returns for its fourth Los Angeles edition, happening Friday, Feb. 15 – Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019 at The Kinney Venice Beach. More than 70 artists from across the country transform hotel rooms and spaces into solo exhibitions of their works. This fair bypasses the traditional gallery system, connecting artists directly to art buyers. Special projects include installations, performances and artwork from Jill Taffet, Camila Magrane, Tiffany Trenda, Guta Galli and Venice Arts. There are a number of panel discussions scheduled for the weekend as well. Tickets: $10-$100.
Frieze Los Angeles 2019
The London-based Frieze magazine launches the LA edition of its contemporary art fair this year, held from Friday, Feb. 15 to Sunday, Feb. 17, at Paramount Pictures Studios in Los Angeles. The new fair presents 70 LA-based and international galleries, with a slate of site-specific programming that includes talks, music, screenings and installations. Participating artists include Doug Aitken, Judy Chicago, Beatriz Cortez, Karon Davis, Tracey Emin, Gajin Fujita, Theaster Gates, Mona Hatoum, Mike Kelley, Barbara Kruger, Tala Madani, Paul McCarthy, Sondra Perry, Allen Ruppersberg, Tino Sehgal, Lee Ufan and Lawrence Weiner. Adult admission tickets for programs and galleries start at $53.85.
LONG BEACH COMIC EXPO
The Long Beach Comic Expo takes place Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 16 and 17, at the Long Beach Convention Center. Expect vendors selling their comics and wares, artist signings, panel discussions, screenings, a cosplay contest and other surprises. Tickets and passes run between $25-$110.
SCOTSFESTIVAL & INTERNATIONAL HIGHLAND GAMES XXVI
The ScotsFestival & International Highland Games XXVI returns to the Queen Mary in Long Beach on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 16 and 17, from 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. The festival celebrates the history and culture of Scotland—and the Queen Mary’s ties to the country. (Construction began on the ship in 1930 in the seaside town of Clydebank, Scotland.) The weekend features Highland games, feats of strength, dancing, entertainment, and food (meat pies, haggis, scones, Scotch eggs) and drinks. Single-day adult general admission starts at $25, but whisky tastings and other activities cost extra.
MORTIFIED DOOMED VALENTINE’S SHOW
Mortified—one of the original storytelling nights in LA—returns for two shows on Saturday, Feb. 16 at Wanderlust Hollywood. This special “romance”-themed edition, Doomed Valentine’s Day, features tales ripped from diaries, letters, lyrics and journals of teenagers. The adult readers share (in front of a roomful of strangers!) the most embarrassing moments of love and heartache they went through as kids. There are two shows, one at 6:00 p.m. and one at 9:00 p.m. The show is all ages, and tickets run: $17.50-$40.
The Oscars ceremony happens Sunday, Feb. 24, and the over the preceding week, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present several film-related programs at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. On Feb. 19, The Academy showcases the nominated films and filmmakers in the Documentary Short Subject and Documentary Feature categories. On Feb. 20, they place the spotlight on the Animated Short Film and Live Action Short Film categories. The series continues with Foreign Language Films on Feb. 21, and two programs on Feb. 23: Feature Animation and a Makeup and Hairstyling Symposium. Tickets will become available on Feb. 1.
Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly is based on the short story “Madame Butterfly” (1898) by John Luther Long. There are three shows slated at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Santa Ana between Feb. 21 and 26. With its heartbreaking arias, the opera focuses on a young, naïve Japanese geisha who believes that her handsome American naval officer will come back for her and their baby. The libretto is by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, and the opera is sung in Italian with English Supertitles. Tickets start at $30.
LA Opera Off Grand presents the West Coast Premiere of David Lang’s the loser, an intimate work for baritone, piano and chamber ensemble on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 22-23, at The Theatre at Ace Hotel. When two piano prodigies meet pianist Glenn Gould on the cusp of superstardom, they realize they’ll never be as good, changing their lives forever. The production stars Rod Gilfry, in a role he created for the work’s premiere at the Bang on a Can festival. Based on the staging of the production, all seating is in the balcony. Tickets start at $25.
AFRICAN AMERICAN FESTIVAL
The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach hosts its 17th annual festival to celebrate the rich diversity of African and African American cultures on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 23-24. Visitors will watch and listen to performances by Mardi Gras second line dancers, hip hop and break dancers, jazz musicians, interactive drum circles, West African dancers and storytellers. The festival is included with aquarium general admission: $17.95-$29.95.
Feb. 27-March 3
DIGITAL NATURE 2019
The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden presents Digital Nature 2019, a contemporary art exhibit, from Wednesday, Feb. 27 to Sunday, March 3 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Artists will project their work onto the garden landscape nightly, mashing up technology with the natural world. The exhibition includes interactive digital wildflowers, butterfly camouflage, and bird songs and heavy metal. Artists include: John Carpenter & Justin Shrake, Adam Donnelly & David Janesko, Tim Durfee, Mia Feuer, Ellie Irons, Chris Kallmyer, Jenny Kendler, William Lamson and others. Tickets: $12-$18.
Christine N. Ziemba is a Los Angeles-based arts and culture writer who loves to tell people what to do (and where to go). Check out her events columns and other musings on PopRadarLA.com, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.