Your Ultimate Guide to September: 20 Awesome Things to do in SoCal

Here’s a look ahead at what’s happening in Southern California throughout September. Read on for all our event picks.

Sept. 1


Your Ultimate Guide to September: 20 Awesome Things to do in SoCal
Courtesy of The Broad Stage

The Broad Stage in Santa Monica holds its annual arts and culture festival on Sunday, Sept. 1 from 2:00-7:00 p.m. The family-friendly fest is free and open to the public and features live music by Boogaloo Assassins, She Sings She Wings, Viver Brasil, Elemental Music, the SMC Music Department and a DJ set by KCRW’s Anthony Valadez. Plus, there are workshops with Family Dance Jam, Arthur Murray Dance Centers, Hit + Run Live Screen Printing, Paint:Lab & Crayon Collection. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. Free admission

Sept. 5-8


Your Ultimate Guide to September: 20 Awesome Things to do in SoCal
PDNQYDD by Mary Lai

The Other Art Fair returns to the Barker Hanger in Santa Monica from Sept. 5-8, showcasing the works of more than 140 up-and-coming artists. The fair allows art buyers to purchase directly from the artists, skipping the middle-people. Prices start at an affordable $150. In addition to the exhibitors, there are scheduled workshops taught by industry professionals and creatives, installations, music and other performances. Saatchi Art’s curators provide free tours through the fair. Food and beverages will be available for purchase onsite. Admission: $15-$60

Sept. 6-8


The 35th Annual Ocean Institute Tall Ships & Ocean Festival in Dana Point is a cultural happening that allows visitors to tour tall ships, watch cannon battles and learn a little maritime history. There are plenty of kid-friendly activities, including storytime and pirate encampments. For the adults, there’s live music from Tijuana Dogs, Rod Piazza and Surf Reggae. Food and beverages will be available for purchase during the festival. Tickets: $12.50 – $50

Sept. 7


This music concert and friendly competition takes place on Sept. 7 from 5:00-11:00 p.m. in downtown Long Beach, at the corner of 1st & Linden Ave. Local and regional bands perform on four stages set up on flatbed trucks with minimal plugged-in equipment. The competitors (BLCKNOISE, Pollen Collective, Palm Trails, The Captain’s Son, Gemma Castro, Spirit Mother, Fellow Robot, and Devil Season) play for votes through wooden nickels. After the competing performances, the headlining acts perform: Jonathan Wilson, Jade Jackson and Primrose Forever Sanctuary.Free admission

Sept. 7-8, 14-15, 28-29 and Oct. 5-6


One of the hottest tickets in Southern California is comedian Ali Wong’s residency at the Wiltern. She’s fresh from her summer Netflix hit Always Be My Maybe and performs multiple shows throughout her run (part of her Milk and Money tour). NOTE: Use of cellphones, smartwatches, cameras or recording devices is prohibited at all of her shows.Tickets start at $49

Sept. 10-11


The veteran singer, songwriter and performer is in the midst of his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour, stopping for two nights at the Honda Center in Anaheim. John takes concertgoers through his 50-year career and his greatest hits. Tickets are scarce and start at $167

Sept. 13-Nov. 3


Halloween Horror Nights returns to Universal Studios Hollywood with ten new themed mazes, like Stranger Things, Jordan Peele’s US, Ghostbusters, Creepshow and Killer Klowns from Outer Space. In addition to mazes, there are select daytime rides and attractions open late at the park as well as an all-new exclusive live show by dance troupe Jabbawockeez. Ticket prices vary by days/times and packages; single general admission starts at $64

Sept. 14 – Oct. 6


Your Ultimate Guide to September: 20 Awesome Things to do in SoCal
A scene from the Komische Oper Berlin production of La Bohème, coming to the LA Opera this month. Photo: Ikko Freese/

The LA Opera presents six performances of Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème to open the 2019-20 season. Barrie Kosky, one of Europe’s most inventive stage directors, offers a fresh perspective on the classic opera, which follows six struggling young artists in 19th-century Paris. Two young international singers take on the roles of the tragic lovers: soprano Marina Costa-Jackson makes her LA Opera debut as Mimì and tenor Saimir Pirgu plays Rodolfo. Tickets begin at $24

Sept. 14


The annual festival, held at the Central Plaza in LA’s Chinatown, celebrates the full harvest moon and a bountiful harvest. There will be cultural demonstrations alongside local bands; calligraphy, brush painting and other art workshops; cooking demos and stargazing with a telescope courtesy of Griffith Observatory. Free admission

Sept. 14-15


El Grito (the Cry of Dolores) took place in Dolores, Mexico, in the early morning of Sept. 16, 1810. A Roman Catholic priest rang the bell of his church and called upon the people to take up arms, triggering the Mexican War of Independence from Spain. There are many cities throughout Southern California that re-enact El Grito and celebrate Mexican Independence Day. One of the largest celebrations is the city of Santa Ana’s Fiestas Patrias Festival and Parade. In addition to the usual carnival rides, games, food and vendor booths in downtown Santa Ana, there are also cultural exhibitions and performances throughout the weekend. The traditional El Grito Ceremony, led by the Mexican Consulate, takes place on Saturday night and the parade takes place on Sunday afternoon. Free admission

Sept. 14


The festival returns to the Santa Monica Pier on Sept. 14 from 4:00-7:00 p.m., highlighting the city’s best seafood offerings. The event also generates awareness for Coastal Cleanup Day and the sustainable seafood movement while benefiting Heal the Bay. Participating restaurants include Blue Plate Oysterette, The Lobster, Sushi Roku, Herringbone, Enterprise Fish Co., among others. The afternoon also features live music, games and an artisan market. The festival is also 100 percent free of single-use plastics. Tickets: $50 – $100

Sept. 19-20


Your Ultimate Guide to September: 20 Awesome Things to do in SoCal
The jazz saxophonist, composer and bandleader plays two hometown shows at The Theatre at Ace Hotel in downtown LA on Sept. 19-20 at 8:00 p.m. He’s currently on tour in support of his sophomore album Heaven and Earth, released last year. Tickets: $29.50-$89.50

Image: Kamasi Washington Album Cover

Sept. 20-22


The Harvest Festival, an original arts and crafts show, takes over the OC Fair & Event Center’s Costa Mesa Building, Huntington Beach Building, and Santa Ana Pavilion from Sept. 20 to 22. Hundreds of makers and artisans will showcase more than 20,000 handmade and embellished works. In addition, there are food vendors offering fresh-baked bread, soups, sweets and other treats. If the kids get bored, there’s also a Kidzone to keep them entertained. Admission: $4-$9

Sept. 20-22


The three-day festival celebrates Greek food and culture at St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Church in Pasadena. Listen to music by The Olympians, take part in folk dancing and try classic Greek dishes including lamb chops, gyros, souvlaki (lamb skewers), baklava, loukoumades (donuts) and—for those 21+—sample Greek wines, beer, ouzo and other spirits. Admission: $4, children 12 and younger get in free

Sept. 21


Don an Austrian costume—made from curtains, perhaps?—and join everyone’s favorite nun-turned-governess (Julie Andrews) and the rest of the Von Trapp family in singing along to this beloved musical at the Hollywood Bowl. The show starts at 6:00 p.m. Tickets: $12-$999

Sept. 21


Smithsonian magazine hosts Museum Day on Sept. 21. Participating museums and cultural institutions throughout the country and Southern California offer free entry to anyone presenting a Museum Day ticket (downloaded from the Smithsonian site). The ticket provides free admission for two people on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. Participating SoCal museums include: The Autry, the Japanese American National Museum, the Grammy Museum, Museum of Latin American Art, Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center, the Laguna Art Museum and others. Free

Sept. 25


On Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 8:00 p.m., as part of Jazz at the Bowl series, Marcus Miller and Reginald Hudlin present the best in black film music, with actor-musician Craig Robinson hosting the evening. The star-studded lineup includes: El DeBarge, Dionne Farris, Chaka Khan, Meshell Ndegéocello, Raphael Saadiq, Charlie Wilson and BeBe Winans with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. Tickets: $1-$165

Sept. 26-Oct. 9


Beyond Fest, the city’s largest genre (think horror, sci-fi, etc.) film festival, returns to the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood from Sept. 26 to Oct. 9. The programming slate hasn’t been released, but organizers promise that the fest “will get strange.” Ticket prices vary

Sept. 26-28


To celebrate his 30th anniversary with the Pacific Symphony, Music Director Carl St. Clair conducts the symphony in a program that begins with Beethoven’s “Egmont” Overture, followed by the composer’s “Choral” Fantasy (a precursor to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony). The concert ends with Carl Orff’s masterpiece, “Carmina Burana.” The concerts take place at Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa. Tickets begin at $25

Sept. 29


Your Ultimate Guide to September: 20 Awesome Things to do in SoCal
Image courtesy of The Los Angeles Chocolate Salon

The 13th annual Los Angeles Chocolate Salon returns to the Pasadena Convention Center on Sept. 29 from 10:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m., presenting dozens of chocolatiers, wine, beverage and other vendors. Sample tastes from: Michael’s Chocolates, Marti Chocolatt, Mignon Chocolate, Truffles ‘n’ Toffee, Letterpress Chocolate and others. Admission includes all tastings and events. Tickets: $10 – $25

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, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.