Every year after the Fourth of July fireworks fade, a whole other colorful spectacle takes place in Laguna Beach, California. It’s the kind of event that will take over 100 gifted local artists, dozens of talented musicians, and a small army of staff to create.
We’re talking about a two-month long celebration of all things art… from acrylic painting to ceramics, jewelry to wood – and a whole lot of categories in between – located in one of the most beautiful towns in Orange County. Welcome to the Festival of Arts in Laguna Beach.
Dates & Hours
Pageant of the Masters: July 7 – September 1, 2023
2023 Theme: Art Colony: In the Company of Artists
Festival Art Show: July 5 – September 1, 2023
Open Mon-Thur, 4PM – 11:30PM
Fri – Sun, 10am – 11:30pm
About the Festival of Arts
If you’re looking for a family summer event that’s a little different, or an extra activity after your beach trip, the Festival is the place to go. It’s also a world-famous destination where you can surround yourself with amazing local art and a wide variety of family fun.
There are art-themed fashion shows, tribute bands, kid-friendly story times with costumed storytellers for the 5 and under set, a jazz, chocolate and wine event for the over-21 set, a concert series that includes tribute band night… even an art and yoga class.
The Festival’s Art Center has daily workshops on printmaking, ceramics and mixed media that are open to everyone, and there are special Youth Arts Education classes that take place at 1PM and 3PM on the weekdays.
After the kids make their masterpieces, you can walk the exhibits on your own or take a free art tour with friendly and very knowledgeable docents who can help you learn about the mediums and processes that the artists use. You can watch as new pieces are created right before your eyes during scheduled artist demos. There’s even a space especially for talented young artists to be celebrated at the popular Junior Art Exhibit. The Festival really does have something for everyone.
Festival of Arts Parking & Accessibility
Festival of Arts does an amazing job accommodating everyone who wants to attend and enjoy the art, food, music and wine. It’s nicely organized, smoke-free, and super accessible.
The venue has a special drop-off area of the parking lot for mobility-impaired patrons, free courtesy wheelchairs (call ahead to reserve one), accessible restrooms and accessible-height counters at the ticket and food stalls. There’s even a mobility-impaired travel path that winds throughout the grounds to make getting around easier.
The Festival works hard to accommodate ASL and vision-impaired patrons, too. There’s easy access seating, large-print scripts with flashlights, and an ASL interpretation of the Festival’s most impressive event… the world-famous Pageant of the Masters. That’s where art – very literally – comes alive in a gorgeous open-air theater under the stars.
Pageant of the Masters
Every year, hundreds of dedicated actors, phenomenal makeup artists, brilliant costumers, talented backdrop artists, and professional musicians put on a unique 90-minute production that combines the very best of live theater, professional orchestra, and classical art. The actors are meticulously designed to look exactly like the original painting or sculpture they mimic. They’re so realistic that first time visitors usually don’t even realize that there are actual people on stage, rather than a crafted piece.
Can’t tell a Carravagio from a Monet? Don’t worry. A friendly narrator will provide a quick background brief so that you learn a little while you’re busy being captivated by the artistry and skill of the performers. They’ll even show you a little of the magic. The Behind the Scenes feature is one of the most popular parts of the Pageant of the Masters. It’s where the audience can actually see the living picture being assembled right before their eyes.
And the Pageant staff makes this Broadway-quality extravaganza without anything more complicated than clever lighting, award-winning makeup effects, expertly painted backdrops, and very patient people. But don’t just take our word on how amazing this event is. Here are a few testimonials from past Pageant attendees…
“Fabulous!” “Wonderful!” “Beautiful!” “Must-see!” “Astonishing!”
And did we mention that a Pageant of the Masters ticket also gives you unlimited access to the Festival of Art and all their unique kid-friendly activities, art and music all summer long? Tickets do sell out, so you might want to hop over to Festival of Arts Tickets to make sure you can get yours.
Festival of Arts & Pageant of the Masters Tips
- Arrive early. This is a popular annual event, and parking gets full.
- Bring a sweater. The days may be sunny and golden, but the nights can be surprisingly cool.
- Bring a cooler or picnic basket with your own food if you prefer, but containers need to be no larger than 14×14 and be able to fit under the chairs. All containers are subject to search for safety.
- Licensed ADA compliant service animals are very welcome, but emotional support, therapy, comfort, and companion animals do not qualify under the Americans with Disabilities Act and cannot be allowed into the Festival or Pageant.
- Wear good walking shoes. The festival has a lot to see before the Pageant starts, and downtown Laguna Beach is only a 5-minute walk away. If you don’t want sore feet, plan accordingly.
- Bring the right stuff! Savvy Pageant-goers frequently bring seat cushions, binoculars, and a blanket to help them enjoy the tableau. If thousands of return visitors do it, you should probably, too. (And if you forget, cushions and binoculars are available for rental, and blankets can be purchased at the souvenir shop.
- Be responsible! The Festival is a place to enjoy all kinds of art, from the visual to the musical, and even the alcoholic. If you’re 21 and over, you can enjoy the curated wine list at the Festival, or bring your own beverages, but the attendants will refuse to admit anyone who’s visibly intoxicated.
- Talking during the tableau performance is a no-no. So are active electronic devices (including watch alarms) and pictures and filming of any kind. Children under 4 are not permitted to attend the Pageant.
- Glass bottles and containers are not allowed in the Pageant Amphitheater.
Do Not Bring
- Selfie Sticks
- Laser pointers
- Personal furniture including chairs and tables
The Festival of Art and the Pageant of the Masters is one of the most unique events in Southern California. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a long-time local, it’s well worth going. And since a Pageant ticket is also an all-access pass to the Festival, it’s also an event with long-lasting value.
So come by, listen to some great music, get a glass of wine, see some fabulous local art, and make the kind of memories that will last for many summers to come.
See you there!
|Festival of Arts – Pageant of the Masters||Fairs & Festivals in Orange County|
|Laguna Beach Sunset Serenades||Art Walks in Orange County|
|City of Laguna Beach||Instagrammable Spots in Orange County|
Kelly Smith is a freelance writer living in Southern California with one dog, two cats, two guinea pigs… and the rest of her family. She writes about Orange County, faith, family, special needs and tea, and world-builds science fiction universes on the side. Find her at www.bluerosecopywriting.com.