10 events that define O.C. in the summer
From ocean events to arts in Laguna, here are get-togethers that mark the season.
Get the most out of the warm, sunny days and balmy nights with our guide to outdoor events and activities.
Festival season in Laguna, June 28-Sept. 1
Laguna’s three big festivals feature hundreds of artists selected by juries and attract tens of thousands of visitors to the city throughout the summer. The Sawdust Art Festival and Art-A-Fair, both in their 47th year, open June 28 and go through Sept .1. The Festival of Arts, in its 81st year, opens June 30 and closes Aug. 31.
The Festival of Arts features more than 100 artists who work in painting, photography, sculpture, printmaking, ceramics, jewelry and furniture and sell their works on the festival grounds. The Sawdust Festival also features crafts, textiles and jewelry while offering arts classes and entertainment on several stages. Art-A-Fair, the only Laguna festival without a residency requirement for artists, also features an eclectic blend of styles and mediums. Tickets for each festival may be purchased separately or for $21.50 you can get a Passport to the Arts, which grants unlimited admission to all three festivals all summer long, plus one-time parking at the Act V lot. www.lagunabeachpassport.com
Independence Day in Huntington Beach, July 4
Of course, Independence Day is celebrated in every city and town in America, but in H.B. it’s a bit bigger deal. The long day of festivities kicks off with a pancake breakfast, 5K and fitness expo. The annual parade – billed as the largest such procession west of the Mississippi – rolls down PCH and up Main Street from 10 a.m. to noon, and more events continue throughout the day, culminating with fireworks over the ocean at 9 p.m.
One thing that sets Huntington Beach apart from other cities on the Fourth is the sheer crush of humanity that descends on the city for the holiday. If you go, plan to arrive early, as parking at Huntington City Beach ($25 flat rate) fills up quickly. Neighboring Huntington State Beach and Bolsa Chica State Beach will also be inundated. Street parking is available for free in some parts of town, but it might be a fair hike from the sand, so pack accordingly.www.hb4thofjuly.org
The Hootenanny, Oak Canyon Ranch, Silverado Canyon, July 6
If you’re a fan of roots rock, rockabilly or psychobilly or an aficionado of classic cars of the ’50s and early ’60s, this is already a highlight on your calendar. If you’re a guy who puts pomade in your pompadour or a gal who wears vintage skirts with an updo, you’ve probably been planning your wardrobe for months. If you’re anybody else, the Hootenanny is a prime people-watching (and car-admiring) event that offers great music and the chance to immerse yourself in a subculture that is quintessentially Orange County.
This year’s bill includes O.C. punk pioneers Social Distortion, along with Face to Face, Old 97’s, Phil Alvin & Exene Cervenka and more. $49.50 general admission, $100 VIP. 4700 Santiago Canyon Drive. thehootenanny.com
Pageant of the Masters, Laguna Beach, July 7-Aug. 31
Celebrating “80 Years of Living Pictures,” the pageant turned its attention to Hollywood this time around with the theme “The Big Picture,” presenting live depictions of artworks that have inspired filmmakers.
Besides recreating paintings by artists from Michelangelo to Frederic Remington to Edward Hopper to Norman Rockwell, cast members will also portray comic screen legends Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd and pay tribute to the Alfred Hitchock films “Vertigo,” “Psycho” and “North By Northwest.” As always, the pageant concludes with Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.”
The pageant begins at 8:30 each night. Ticket prices vary by day of the week, with lower prices and better availability on weeknights. www.foapom.com/pageant-of-the-masters
O.C. Fair, Costa Mesa, July 12-Aug. 11
With the theme “Come and Get It,” the fair will roll on for 23 days with its usual assortment of thrill rides, game booths, competitions in everything from food to gardening to fine arts, agricultural displays, action sports and entertainment.
The Pacific Amphitheatre concert series, which requires separate ticketing that includes fair admission, has shows that will appeal both to concert-goers both younger (Emblem3, the Wanted, the Dirty Heads) and older (ZZ Top, Hall & Oates, Roger Daltrey). Another fairgrounds venue, the Hangar, will feature a slate of tribute bands playing the music of the Eagles, David Bowie, Depeche Mode, Led Zeppelin, Kiss and More.
The fair is opens Wednesday-Sundays during its run. Daily general admission is $11 ($8 for seniors, $6 for kids 6-12) or hardcore fairgoers can opt for the Super Pass, which includes admission for all 23 days for $35 general, $30 for seniors and $25 for youths. www.ocfair.com
San Clemente Ocean Festival, July 20-21
Dubbed “the Greatest Show on Surf,” the 37th annual event features lifeguard games, a woody car show, a fishing derby, a standup paddleboard competition, a sand-sculpture contest, a rubber ducky race, surf contests and more at the San Clemente Pier. The event began in the 1970s as an effort to expand the Orange County Beach Games, an annual lifeguarding competition, to the general public and now draws 50,000 people annually.
Parking near the pier is limited but free parking with a free shuttle to the festival is available at San Clemente High School. www.oceanfestival.org
U.S. Open of Surfing, Huntington Beach, July 20-28
In a town that has some kind of surfing contest every weekend, this is the granddaddy of them all. More than 70,000 people pack on to the sand for the Open, though not all of them are there to see top surfers, skaters and BMX riders compete. Some prefer to browse through the booths offering interactive exhibits, giveaways, autographic signings, surfwear and food, others come to check out the bands that perform during the event.
All activities are free and open to the public, but be prepared for large crowds if you’re coming to the Open and looking for parking. www.usopenofsurfing.com
La Habra Corn Festival, Aug. 2-4
A bit of small-town life transplanted to O.C., the Corn Festival draws about 40,000 annually with carnival rides and games, a 5K fun run and – of course – thousands of ears of corn. The festival began in 1949 to bring a small country-fair like event to the Midwesterners who had settled in La Habra. The 65th annual celebration will take place over three days at El Centro-Lions Park.
The annual Corn Festival parade, featuring bands, floats, drill teams, antique cars and equestrian groups, rolls down La Habra Boulevard on Saturday morning of festival weekend. KTLA weekend news anchors Lu Parker, Chris Burrous and Liberte Chan will serve as grand marshals. www.lahabracornfestival.com
Rancho Mission Viejo Rodeo, San Juan Capistrano, Aug. 24-25
This rootin’, tootin’ throwback to the ranching era of Orange County’s history is also a sanctioned event for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Competitive events include bull riding, bareback riding, steer wrestling and roping.
The weekend also features a country music concert and dance, this year headlined by Chancey Williams and the Younger Brothers Band. rmvrodeo.com
Orange International Street Fair, Aug. 30-Sept. 1
The final community event of the summer in Orange County is also one of the biggest, as crowds of 400,000 or more turn out for this Labor Day weekend food fest in downtown Orange.
The festival features more than 15 ethnic streets (e.g. Greek, Mexican, German) with food and alcohol booths operated by local non-profits, as well as a commercial section at which local companies promote themselves and a street devoted to kids games and crafts. A variety of local bands will perform on eight stages throughout the three-day festival.www.orangestreetfair.org
$ell SmArt… with Art!