Here are 20 of our favorite happenings in July, hand-picked for your social calendar.
FOURTH OF JULY
There are so many July Fourth celebrations happening throughout Southern California, from the Rose Bowl to the Hollywood Bowl and from Huntington Beach to Marina Del Rey and points in between. Here are a few of the bigger events:
- Nile Rodgers and Chic at the Hollywood Bowl from July 2-4
- Americafest July 4th celebration at the Rose Bowl, from 2-9:30 p.m.
- Grand Park + Music Center 4th of July Block Party, from 3-9:30 p.m.
- Marina del Rey Fireworks Celebration, at 9:00 p.m.
- Kaboom! at the Fairplex in Pomona offers monster trucks, motocross and fireworks. The fun kicks off with a Pit Party at 5:00 p.m.
- Huntington Beach Fourth of July Parade and Fireworks, from 10:00 a.m-9:00 p.m.
July 7-Aug. 31
PAGEANT OF THE MASTERS
The Pageant of the Masters has been a Laguna Beach tradition for more than eight decades. Real people become part of the art: Classic works are recreated on stage with actors posed and styled to look exactly like the original painting or sculpture. This year’s theme is The Time Machine and is presented nightly at 8:30 p.m. Give yourself enough time to explore the Festival of Arts on the grounds, showcasing more than 100 Orange County artists. Tickets: $15-$240.
RENT 20TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR
The rock musical Rent opened in 1996, created by a little-known composer Jonathan Larson. Now more than 20 years later, Rent continues to resonate worldwide. Based on Puccini's La Bohème, the show follows a year in the life of seven artists struggling to follow their dreams without selling out. Tickets start at $49.
PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
Cameron Mackintosh’s spectacular new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s beloved musicalThe Phantom of the Opera comes to Segerstrom Hall in Costa Mesa from July 10-21. Based on Le Fantôme de L’Opéra by Gaston Leroux, the musical follows a masked figure who lurks beneath the Paris Opera House, terrorizing those above. He falls in love with a young soprano, Christine, and devotes himself to creating a new star through any means necessary. This new version is performed by 52 cast and orchestra members with new staging and scene design. Tickets start at $35.75.
July 12-Aug. 11
The Orange County Fair returns to OC Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa from July 12-Aug. 11. New foods to the fair include: Salvadoran Pupusas, Turkey Leg with Cheese and Hot Cheetos, Waffle Pizza, Elote Dog and Fruity Pebbles Shrimp Po’ Boy. And in addition to the exhibits, livestock, action and stunt shows, carnival rides and games, beer gardens and cocktails, The Pacific Amphitheatre’s concert slate during the fair’s run includes Brandi Carlisle on July 17, Ziggy Marley on July 19 and Viva El Mariachi on Aug. 4. (The purchase of concert tickets includes admission to the fair.) The OC Fair is open Wednesday-Sunday. Single-day admission runs $7-$14 (free for children 5 and younger).
2019 SUMMER DINEL.A.
The summer edition of DineL.A. Restaurant Week runs more than two weeks, from July 12-26. The event showcases the diverse culinary scene throughout all of LA’s neighborhoods. More than 400 restaurants are participating, offering value lunch menus ($15-$35), and dinner menus priced between $29-$59. If you’re interested in even higher-end dining options, the summer program introduces a number of dinner-only tasting menus featuring five+ courses that start at $99.
Sir Paul rocks Dodger Stadium on July 13. He’s on his Freshen Up tour, performing music from his 50-year career, featuring tunes from The Beatles, Wings and his solo work. Every online ticket purchase comes with a physical copy of McCartney's latest album, Egypt Station. Tickets are $79.50.
The 39th Lotus Festival returns to Echo Park Lake on July 13-14, from noon-9:00 p.m. on both days. The festival, which celebrates Asian Pacific cultures, features Dragon Boat Races, a tea house and ceremony, arts and crafts, community organization vendors, a food court, a beer garden, and a children’s area. The host country this year is the Kingdom of Thailand. Free admission.
RACHEL BLOOM RESIDENCY
Now that she’s wrapped her TV show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, star Rachel Bloom begins a new monthly residency at Largo Los Angeles at 8:00 p.m. on July 16. We’d guess that Hi I’m Rachel and This is My Show will be chock full of comedy and musical interludes. Tickets: $30.
BLACK FIRE SESSIONS
The first of two "Black Fire Sessions"—musical celebrations of the landmark exhibition Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963-1983—takes place on July 17 at 8:30 p.m. Artists scheduled to perform are: Roscoe Mitchell + Brett Carson, Busdriver, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Teebs and Mecca Vazie Andrews. From The Broad: “Drawing from the radical experimentation pioneered by artists of the Black Arts Movement, this two-part series features live music by innovators of free jazz alongside younger artists at the intersections of jazz, R&B, electronic, hip-hop, and soul.” Tickets to the concert include access to the art exhibition during the event. Tickets: $25.
The 2019 Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival, runs from July 18-28 at several venues in LA. It opens at the Orpheum Theatre in DTLA with Circus of Books, Rachel Mason’s documentary about LA’s iconic gay erotica emporium and bookstore, and closes at The Theater at the Ace Hotel with the poignant family comedy Before You Know It from Hannah Pearl Utt. This year’s program features films from 33 countries and in 26 languages, with more than two-thirds of this year’s content directed by women, people of color and trans filmmakers. Panels and live performances also take place throughout the festival. Regular screenings start at $16-$20 for adult admission, but galas and special events vary in price.
July 18–Aug. 22
The Skirball's Sunset Concerts returns on Thursday nights, focusing on a diverse lineup of artists from around the world. The series kicks off with music from LA-based (by way of Guatemala) Gaby Moreno, who performs songs in English and Spanish blending blues, jazz, soul, R&B, pop, and Latin folk. The rest of the lineup features: Río Mira (July 25), The Klezmatics (August 1), Cha Wa (August 8), Tamar Ilana & Ventanas (August 15) and Josef Leimberg (August 22). All concerts are free; doors and DJs open the night at 6:30 p.m. with the headliner at 8:00 p.m. Carpooling and public transportation is encouraged. Parking $15.
Calling all pop- culture fans: Comic-Con returns to the San Diego Convention Center from July 18-21 (with a preview night on July 17). Expect a mass influx of people driving the 5 and 405 for workshops, panels and exhibitors on the latest films, TV shows, manga, anime, games and … comic books. While badges for the convention proper are sold out, there are many ancillary events available to the public, including The Gathering, a fundraising event for the Comic-Con Museum’s future home in San Diego’s Balboa Park. Taking place on July 17, the night previews the museum, which is scheduled to open in 2021. Prices vary.
DELICIOUS LITTLE TOKYO
LA’s largest Japanese culinary event, Delicious Little Tokyo, returns with more than 20 weekend activities, including culinary demos, food tours, and workshops at various Little Tokyo shops and restaurants. Take part in sessions including: Sake on the Rocks, A Delectable Doughnut Tasting with Donatsu, Coffee Appreciation: A Fruit & Chocolate Tasting with Cafe Demitasse, Historical Food Walking Tour with the Little Tokyo Historical Society and Spam Musubi Demo with Aloha Cafe. Some events are free, others run between $20 and $150.
The multitalented actor-singer-performer Hugh Jackman performs for two nights at the Hollywood Bowl. In The Man. The Music. The Show. Jackson performs songs from The Greatest Showman, Les Misérables and other hits from Broadway and film, accompanied by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. And if you’re a fan of Showman, Keala Settle is a special guest for both nights. Tickets start at $39.
LITTLE LITERARY FAIR
The Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB) and LARB/USC Publishing Workshop partner with Hauser & Wirth Publishers for the first Little Literary Fair (LITLIT) on July 20 and 21 at Hauser & Wirth gallery in Downtown LA. Independent booksellers, publishers, and makers share their work and ideas with attendees. Additional programming includes: interviews and panel discussions about the literary and publishing industries with authors, artists and community organizers. Free admission.
The members of the theater company, Team StarKid, founded by Darren Criss, Brian Holden, Matt Lang and Nick Lang at the University of Michigan in 2009, perform three reunion shows in LA with original cast members performing together for the first time in a decade. StarKid became Internet famous with the release of A Very Potter Musical, a parody of the Harry Potter series. Performers at the Ace shows include Darren Criss, Joey Richter, Bonnie Socha (née Gruesen), Lauren Lopez, Joe Walker, Dylan Saunders, and Jaime Lyn Beatty. The show on July 25 is at 8:00 p.m., and there are two shows on July 26 at 5:00 and 9:00 p.m. Tickets: $40-$125.
KEN BURNS’ COUNTRY MUSIC
Watch a sneak preview of Ken Burns' upcoming documentary Country Music at The Autry on July 27 at 5:30 p.m. The dog-friendly event, which takes place outdoors on the lawn, also features live music by country singer-songwriter Austin McCutchen, a dog costume contest and panel discussion with Burns, moderated by LA Times columnist Patt Morrison. Tickets: $10 - $15.
CENTRAL AVENUE JAZZ FESTIVAL
The 24th annual family-friendly festival celebrates the musical legacy of the Historic Central Avenue neighborhood. The festival pays tribute to jazz greats such as Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Charles Mingus and Dexter Gordon, while it also showcases rising jazz acts. The festivities take place along Central Avenue, between Vernon Avenue and Martin Luther King Boulevard, with live jazz on three stages as well as at the historic Dunbar Hotel. The lineup includes Cassandra Wilson, The Brandon Coleman Experience, The Baylor Project and Elemental. Vendors and community organizations will be onsite offering merchandise, goods or information. Free admission.
LONG BEACH DRAGON BOAT FESTIVAL
The 2019 Long Beach Dragon Boat Festival will be held at Marine Stadium in Long Beach on July 27, from 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. and July 28, from 9:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m. In addition to hosting one of the largest dragon boat races in the state, the festival also presents Chinese traditional art demonstrations, Chinese acrobats, as well as dance, hip hop, music and martial arts performances. Food vendors will be onsite as well. The races are free to watch.
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.