Family Hike: Runyon Canyon

Runyon Canyon has been in the news a bit this summer due its recent facelift. It’s an extremely popular urban LA hike in the Hollywood Hills that is known as not only a great workout but also an interesting people watching place and “Instagram photo opp”.

Runyon Canyon east trail

It was closed for four months (April – July 2016) to replace a water pipeline and renovate the main trail. Now it has a newly paved fire road and new water fountains. It hadn’t been on my list of hikes I really wanted to do, but now that I had read about it in blogs and newspapers, I wanted to check it out – and I rallied the family to join me.

Runyon Canyon family

There’s always a bit of uncertainty involved in trying a new hike – parking situation, hiking route, and trail intensity – all equally pertinent issues in this case. I had tried to research the hike a little before heading out. In this case, I learned there were 3 entrances to the park and 3 trails of varying intensity within the park that all connect and loop together. Things wouldn’t be clarified until we got there.

Coming from West LA, I chose the entrance at the end of North Fuller Avenue (1854 North Fuller Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90046). I had read there is plenty of street parking there, which there was, but available street parking was very scarce. You have to be lucky (and avoid street cleaning days), and we luckily were and got parking within a block of the park entrance. Another main entrance is off Mulholland Drive at Pyramid Place, where there apparently is a little lot, and a third entrance is at the end of North Vista Street just a couple of blocks away from Fuller Avenue.

Once parked and sunblocked, we headed towards the park. We were so surprised to see a self-serve snack stand at the park entrance that worked on the honor system! We had flashbacks to our cycling tour in Switzerland where we had come across the same thing out in the countryside – a well stocked and nicely organized snack stand available for passers-by to use honestly and respectfully. It’s such an unexpected thing to see, especially in a big city like LA.

Runyon Canyon snack stand

The kids noticed some people walk by and take items without paying, but I also noticed a QR code with a Venmo label and preferred to think that they would pay later or on their way out. We finished admiring the snack stand and promised the kids something upon our return.

I wasn’t quite sure which way to go after entering the park. We wanted one of the harder hikes, not just the newly paved fire road. We soon passed by a large lawn that was fenced off; this is where free yoga classes happen. Then we came to an unsigned junction by a new water fountain (a fancy one with four different spouts—one for adults, one for kids, one for dogs, and one to refill water bottles!).

Runyon Canyon junctionRunyon Canyon fountain

A sign would have been helpful for us newbies to Runyon Canyon. In a recent LA Times article, I had read about the “main trail”, the east or “steps” trail, and the west or “spine” trail. I remembered reading at hikespeak.com to go counterclockwise for a steeper, more scenic climb, so we continued straight (and did not take the path to the left).

Runyon Canyon courtBefore we knew it, we were on the east trail. We passed the odd unfinished basketball court which actually looked like a tennis court to us. Soon we were upon the first scenic viewpoint, known as Inspiration Point. From there the hike became much more challenging as we embarked upon the wooden steps and climbed up the ridge line.

Runyon Canyon steps

The trail soon leveled out and we had amazing views towards the Hollywood Sign and Griffith Observatory, and of course the city views behind us continued. We came to another scenic viewpoint. This one is called Clouds Rest.

Runyon Canyon hills view

At this point we hadn’t even hiked a mile yet and weren’t ready to begin heading back down, so we chose to continue upward and onward instead of heading back down into the canyon along the fire road. Also, the ridge on the other side looked interesting to hike. We followed the fire road up for a bit, past a house I admired (and later learned is called Runyon Ranch and is a private home that’s available as a shooting location and private party venue), and then back onto a dirt trail.

Runyon Canyon Runyon Ranch

One thing I loved about this Runyon Canyon hike was the variety of terrain we encountered. So far we’d had wide dirt paths, irregular and steep steps, single track trails, and paved road. Now we came across a series of wooden staircases which was then followed by more single track, some it quite steep and very uneven, as we made our way across the west ridge and then down again to the bottom of the canyon where we started. In a way, it was like a real life obstacle course at times, with great views and fun people watching to boot.

Runyon Canyon stairsRunyon Canyon climbing

The west ridge, or spine trail, was certainly more technically challenging due to the erosion and at times steep ascent or descent. There were stretches where we had to use all fours to climb up or steady ourselves going down. For us the challenge was not slip-sliding down the slopes. For the hikers coming up, their challenge was keeping a steady breath. Many of them were really huffing and puffing as they passed us.

Runyon Canyon west ridge

I highly recommend Runyon Canyon for families. It was a short but sweet excursion with a sense of adventure and a great variety of trail experiences and incredible views. Our loop was about 2.5 miles and took about an hour, not including stops at the scenic viewpoints. Runyon Canyon is also a dog park, much of it off-leash. Since we’re not a dog owning family, my kids got a kick out of seeing dogs along the trail.

Runyon Canyon west

Doobie is almost 10 and handled the terrain perfectly fine. Much younger kids would probably have some difficulty, or at least certainly need adult support to get through some stretches safely. But the great thing about Runyon Canyon is that all the trails connect and loop together so you can find something perfect for your family. Even a hike along the fire road would yield fabulous views.

Hiking Runyon Canyon was certainly an example of taking advantage of what LA has to offer – fun hiking along with spectacular city views.

CicLAvia: Iconic Wilshire Boulevard (2016)

Another CicLAvia is in the books for me, my fifth one. It was a ride along Wilshire Boulevard starting in Downtown LA and going to Koreatown. I was actually considering not doing this ride because it was a partial repeat of a previous route I had already done, but then Doobie expressed interest in joining me and how could I resist that?

The first Iconic Wilshire Boulevard ride in 2014 was quite the city adventure on wheels for me. This one turned out to be much more relaxing. I really enjoyed the experience and am so glad I took advantage of the event and that Doobie joined me.

One Wilshire Hub

One Wilshire Hub

Now with the Metro Expo Line extended through our neighborhood, we had easy access to Downtown LA and we were at One Wilshire Hub in no time. Our biggest challenge was getting the bikes up from the underground station. We missed the elevator and Doobie had a little trouble holding on to his bike on the busy escalators. But it all worked out with the help of friendly and helpful fellow commuters.

CicLAvia Wilshire routemap

Since I had already done this route (although the 2014 version was about twice as long), I did not really have any particular plans, unlike CicLAvia: Heart of LA (2015)  when I had a whole wishlist of places I wanted to see and visit. This time, I just wanted to enjoy and take advantage of the open streets (and hopefully find one geocache that was along the route, a new one since my last ride there).

Doobie, however, had an agenda. He wanted to hunt Pokémon, stop at PokéStops and Gyms, and hatch eggs. I was totally okay with that. It would give me ample time to people watch and take in the whole atmosphere of the event. On their website, CicLAvia even had a list of the 56 PokéStops along the route with a reminder to be mindful and not to stop in the middle of the route. Continue reading

Summer in Norway: Exploring the Coastal Trail in Kragerø

A new favorite activity during our annual summer trip to Norway is exploring Kyststien i Kragerø, a hiking trail through the municipality of Kragerø following the coastline as much as possible. Our summer home is on an island, but the trail passes right by on the mainland a very short boat ride away.

Kyststien 2015 Soppekilen

The Coastal Trail in Kragerø is a relatively new part of our summer consciousness. It officially opened in November 2013, so this year was our third summer with it. It’s part of an effort to have a continuous trail all the way from Oslo to Stavanger. The idea was to use the old road system that once followed the coastline.

The complete trail in Kragerø is about 40 kilometers/25 miles long, and it is divided into 3 stretches (Fossing – Helle, Helle – Kragerø, and Stabbestad – Ellingsvika). Remnants of the old road system remain but only in small areas. Most of it is under private docks and lawns. The trail runs along the coastline where possible, but at times it has to swing into the woods or over a mountain ridge. Continue reading

Barcelona and Salvador Dalí right here in Los Angeles!

Exhibition PosterIt’s always hard to return to real life after a vacation full of unique and interesting experiences. This week we seized the opportunity to relive a bit of our recent vacation in Catalonia, Spain, right here at home. We learned that there was an exhibition of Salvador Dalí sculptures in Beverly Hills – an open-air exhibit of 12 “monumental and museum sized” bronze sculptures, free and open to the public at Two Rodeo Drive. We were intrigued.

As usual we went to Norway this summer, but afterwards we ventured onwards to the region of Catalonia in northeastern Spain for a 5-day self-guided bike tour. (Bike tours have become a favorite type of family vacation; this was our third one.) After our bike tour ended, we rented a car to explore the Costa Brava area (“brave or wild coast”) for a few days. One of our stops en route was Gala Dalí Castle House-Museum in Púbol, one of three sites in Catalonia dedicated to the life and works of Salvador Dalí.

Touring the castle and grounds was a highlight of our car ride. In the middle of nowhere was suddenly this site full of interesting history and unique and unusual design elements. Our guide gave us tidbits of information that brought the artist to life for us. Through this visit, we felt like we got to know the artist a little bit, got some insight into his personality and sense of humor. So, when my husband learned there was an exhibit of Dalí sculptures right here at home, we were quick to plan an outing. He even knew of a Barcelona-inspired restaurant nearby that he had meant for us to try before going on our trip that he added to our excursion for the day.

The exhibition in Beverly Hills was so much more fun and interesting than I expected. Twelve large Dalí statues were located throughout the Two Rodeo Drive area. His iconic melting clocks were represented, and we were reunited with his fantastical elephants which we had seen in the gardens at Púbol. Continue reading

Los Angeles Culture Challenge: Summer 2016 Edition

Summer 2016Summer is the perfect time to explore and take advantage of all that Los Angeles has to offer. This summer make a pact to visit a new area of Los Angeles or participate in a new activity—a cultural art project, a concert in a special outdoor setting, a festival celebrating a unique culture, or a bike ride exploring a new part of Los Angeles, just to mention a few options. The experience will open your eyes to the richness of where we live. You’ll be amazed at what’s available to us.

Two events I highly recommend take place this summer—Los Angeles River Ride and CicLAvia. We have participated in both, LA River Ride 4 years ago (so we’re due a repeat) and CicLAvia many times. The CicLAvia route this summer is one I’ve done before and really enjoyed, though this summer’s route is a little shorter. Now with the new Metro Expo Line extension running, Westsiders can easily get to Downtown LA to participate. Read on for details and links to both events.

This summer, my goal is to give Chinatown Summer Nights a try. It’s been on my radar for a few summers now and we’ve never had a chance to go. Hopefully, this summer is the year we finally do it. What do you think your family will explore this summer?

* SPECIAL EVENTS THIS SUMMER *

Getty Family FestivalFamily Festival, Getty Center, Saturday, June 11, 10am-6pm. Navigate the myriad cultures of the Silk Road and beyond in this family festival inspired by the exhibitions Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China’s Silk Road and Traversing the Globe Through Illuminated Manuscripts. With hands-on workshops and interactive events, you can make your own book, write a couple of Chinese characters, witness the beauty of calligraphy from the Middle Kingdom, be entranced by stories of Buddha in animal forms, and feel the world’s interconnectedness through music and dance from China to Peru.

16th annual river ride16th Annual Los Angeles River Ride, Autry Center in Griffith Park, Sunday, June 12. What better way to explore the city we live in than by bike. Join over 2,000 other riders and enjoy a great day of bicycling fun, exploration, a post-ride expo, a raffle, live music, and more. 7 great rides: 100-mile, 70-mile, 50-mile, 36-mile, 25-mile, 15-mile Family Ride, plus a 2-mile Kids’ Ride + Festival. All participants receive a t-shirt, goodie bag, and finisher’s medal. Kids 12 and under ride for free for all rides. All proceeds benefit the work of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, the only non-profit organization working to make all communities in L.A. County healthy, safe, and fun places to ride bikes.

Bayou Festival 201630th Annual Long Beach Bayou Festival, Rainbow Lagoon Park, Long Beach, Saturday, June 18, & Sunday, June 19. Experience the Bayou with this two-day family festival featuring authentic Cajun and Creole food, cultural music, dance lessons, crawfish eating contests, a children’s corner with arts and crafts and other activities, and a Mardi Gras parade. There will also be live performances at the Zydeco Stage, Blues Stage, and Children’s Stage.

Big Irish Fair & MusicfestBig Irish Fair & MusicFest, El Dorado Park, Long Beach, Saturday, June 18, & Sunday, June 19. This festival features 16 areas of music, song, and dance; sports such as Irish football and hurling; a walk through the legends and lore of ancient Ireland at Tara Village; a Children’s Leprechaun Kingdom; Irish Art Show; a marketplace with Irish import and gift shop vendors; and special events such as a Grand Parade of the Irish, a sheep herding show, and an Irish dog show.

Chinatown Summer NightsChinatown Summer Nights, Downtown LA, 3rd Saturdays during summer months (6/18, 7/16, and 8/20), 5pm-12am. Part food event, part summer party, Chinatown Summer Nights presents an exciting hot spot for Angelenos this summer. Taste the many culinary offerings of Chinatown and LA’s gourmet food trucks; sample the neighborhood’s wares; watch Chinese chefs perform cooking demonstrations; experience large-scale, outdoor video projections; take part in hands-on, Chinese cultural activities presented by local organizations and museums; sip on craft brews and dance in Central Plaza with 89.9 KCRW’s DJs.

CicLAviaCicLAvia – Iconic Wilshire Boulevard, Sunday, August 14, 9am-4pm. CicLAvia heads back to Iconic Wilshire Boulevard as Koreatown, Westlake, and Downtown Los Angeles host another open streets event. Streets will be closed to cars and open for cyclists, pedestrians, runners, and skaters to use as a recreational space. You will enjoy the sights, music, food, and culture that make LA such a vibrant city.

* ONGOING THROUGHOUT THE SUMMER *

Undiscovered Chinatown Walking TourUndiscovered Chinatown Walking Tour, Downtown LA, first Saturday of each month, 10:30am-1pm. Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more when guided to the unique treasures–not to mention great bargains–to be found in Chinatown. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of L.A.’s Chinatown.

Barnsdall Art Park SundaysBarnsdall Art Sundays, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, every Sunday, 10am-12pm. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. This summer explore Mexico, India, Japan, Tibet, USA, Medieval Europe, Australia, Canada, and China through a variety of projects. See website for schedule.

 

skirball-for-families-amphitheater-newFamily Amphitheater Performances: The Sounds of Our City, Skirball Cultural Center, Saturdays & Sundays, June 25 – September 4. This summer, the Skirball’s family amphitheater series honors the diverse cultural communities of Los Angeles through the eclectic sounds of our city—from son jarocho to indie rock to Yiddish folk tunes. Put on your dancing shoes, get your groove on, share stories, and discover the many musical traditions of LA! Performances run every Saturday and Sunday from June 25 through September 4. See website for full schedule.

Grand PerformancesGrand Performances, California Plaza, Downtown LA, June – August. Grand Performances bring artists and audiences together by thoughtfully curating an array of music, dance, film, and spoken word featuring great artists from around the globe and our very own streets of L.A. The summer series of free outdoor concerts celebrates our city’s rich diversity through performing arts at a stunning outdoor venue in Downtown LA. See website for schedule of performances.

 

summersounds2016-headSummerSounds: World Music for Kids, Hollywood Bowl, weekday mornings, July 11 – August 5. SummerSounds is a fun-filled, four-week series of lively concerts combined with art workshops. Join their dynamic hosts as they lead you on a journey to discover music, dance, and art from cultures around the world. Situated in the intimate setting of the Hollywood Bowl Museum patio, SummerSounds features four different programs, each highlighting a distinct music tradition – a new show every week. Two performances daily. This summer’s program includes music from USA, France, Japan, and Mexico. See website for schedule and ticket information.

Ford AmphitheatreFord Family Series: Big World Fun, Ford Amphitheatre, Hollywood, Saturday mornings, July & August. Travel the world without leaving LA, as groups representing music and dance from Mexico, the Philippines, Japan, and more enchant and delight. The Big World Fun family series takes place on Saturday mornings at 10:00 a.m. in July and August. These hour-long music and dance performances are for children ages 4 to 12 and their families. Come early to explore wild animals, get busy with craft activities, and grab a bite before the show. See website for schedule of performances and ticket information.

Annenberg Space for PhotographyREFUGEE, The Annenberg Space for Photography, Century City, ongoing until August 21. Through images created by five internationally acclaimed artists, REFUGEE explores the lives of refugees from a host of diverse populations dispersed and displaced throughout the world. The exhibit features photographs taken in Bangladesh, Cameroon, Colombia, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Mexico, Myanmar, Serbia, Slovenia, and the United States.

Skylight StudiosNew Americans, Skylight Studios at The Annenberg Space for Photography, Century City, ongoing until August 21. In conjunction with the REFUGEE exhibit, the New Americans installation at Skylight Studios features a collection of stories on refugees who were resettled  in the United States to start a new life through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. The installation features “The Refugee Project,” an interactive visual narrative created from 40 years of UNHCR refugee data; New Roots, a long-form multimedia experience by visual journalist Sarah Ann Jump featuring a Congolese refugee family resettling in Rochester, New York; several short films of refugee families sharing their experiences as they resettle in California and adapt to their new lives; and a photo series by blogger and photographer Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York which features the personal stories of refugees recently cleared for resettlement in America.

Bowers-Museum-once-upon-the-timeOnce Upon a Time… Exploring the World of Fairy Tales, Kidseum at Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, ongoing until August 28. This is a unique and educational exhibit focusing on the power and significance of fairy tales throughout history and from around the world. From an African jungle to a giant’s castle, explore larger-than-life pages of seven favorite fairy tales. Enter via a magical portal into a fabulous storybook kingdom and learn the meaning and history of tales you’ve known all your life and others that may be new. Get into the story as you cross a wooden bridge in “Anansi and the Talking Melon,” play a harpsichord in “Beauty and the Beast,” try on a glass slipper in “Cinderella,” work at a cobblers bench in “The Elves and the Shoemaker,” climb a beanstalk in “Jack and the Beanstalk,” catch a wolf in “Lon Po Po,” and crawl through a mole’s hole in “Thumbelina.” See website for ticket and schedule information.

What do you think your family will explore this summer?

Welcome to the neighborhood, Expo Line!

Westwood Ranch Park StationOn the weekend of May 20, the long awaited Expo Line extension from Culver City to Santa Monica opened with great fanfare. There were free rides for all Expo Line riders and parties with food trucks, entertainment, and children’s activities at new stations. Despite there not being an official party at our new station, there was still a very festive feel. So many interested and curious people had come to check out the new light rail service, so many that they all couldn’t get on the train to Santa Monica when it came.

Train to Santa MonicaI tested the new line the other day. I had to serve hot lunch at my kids’ school in Santa Monica, an activity which has kind of lost its luster because they’re not as eager to let me hang with them while they eat with their friends. It all became much more alluring when I decided to make a little adventure out of it for myself. I made a pact to take public transit to the school. Continue reading

Hipp Hipp Hurra for Norge: 17th of May Celebrations at Nansen Field in Los Angeles (2016)

Doobie & SonnyNorway’s National Day snuck up on us this year even though it was on our calendar. We didn’t decide to attend the festivities at Nansen Field until the evening before. The next morning we rallied the troops, dug out our Norwegian flags (and once again remembered we need new ones for next year), and headed down to Rolling Hills Estates, about a 30-minute drive south of Los Angeles.

We arrived just in time. They had just started playing the national anthems and were raising the flags of the United States and Norway. We found a spot next to friends of ours and listened to greetings from Honorary Consul of Norway in Los Angeles, a sermon by the pastor of the Norwegian Seaman’s Church in San Pedro, and the traditional 17th of May speech.

17th of May CeremonyIt didn’t take long for Sonny and Doobie to head off to the open soccer goal on the huge empty field. But it also didn’t take long until they were overrun by little kids and their parents and had to abdicate the goal.

Photo courtesy of Sonny

Photo courtesy of Sonny

Something new to me this year that I really enjoyed and thought added greatly to the festive feel of the day were the musical performances. Continue reading

May 2016: Los Angeles Culture Challenge & Norway’s May 17th

May 2016May is a month eagerly awaited and anticipated by Norwegians worldwide. We celebrate our constitution signed on May 17, 1814. Norwegians in LA can celebrate on the day itself at the Norwegian Church in San Pedro, or they can join festivities on the Sunday closest to the 17th at Nansen Field in Rolling Hills Estates (details below).

For those interested in cultures beyond Norway, there are plenty of opportunities this month. And my favorite LA event, CicLAvia, returns to Los Angeles this month, this time to Southeast Cities. Unfortunately, it overlaps with the Norwegian festivities that weekend. It will be a hard choice for me.

* CURRENT & NEW EXHIBITS & EVENTS *

Fowler BendatCelebrate/Demonstrate: Photographs of Global LA by Cindy Bendat, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, ongoing until 5/8. Featuring compelling images of festivals and political rallies, this exhibition highlights the extraordinary cultural diversity of the greater Los Angeles area. California-based photographer Bendat has documented community events in Southern California and throughout the world for several decades. Her photographs offer visitors an intimate view of three kinds of annual celebrations held in and around Los Angeles: a late-October fiesta for the Guatemalan folk saint San Simón, mid-January Orthodox Ethiopian Timket (Epiphany) festivities, and the mid-April Cambodian New Year or Chaul Chnam Thmey. These images illustrate the ways in which immigrants maintain homeland traditions in the United States and express their ethnic and cultural identity.

Renaissance Pleasure FaireRenaissance Pleasure Faire, Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area, Irwindale, Saturdays & Sundays, ongoing until 5/22. Travel back to the 16th century and experience the glory of life during the Renaissance era. The faire provides “a cornucopia of diversity where we are unified in inviting our guests to enjoy an environment we have created to escape from the stresses and demands of the modern day.” There will be artisans of all media, entertainment galore, food trucks and booths, games and rides (including pony and camel rides), a Kids Kingdom (with games, crafts, story-telling, song, shows, and characters), and a gnome quest!

Annenberg Space for PhotographyREFUGEE, The Annenberg Space for Photography, Century City, ongoing until 8/21. Through images created by five internationally acclaimed artists, REFUGEE explores the lives of refugees from a host of diverse populations dispersed and displaced throughout the world. The exhibit features photographs taken in Bangladesh, Cameroon, Colombia, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Mexico, Myanmar, Serbia, Slovenia, and the United States.

New AmericansSkylight Studios, Skylight Studios at The Annenberg Space for Photography, Century City, ongoing until 8/21. In conjunction with the REFUGEE exhibit, the New Americans installation at Skylight Studios features a collection of stories on refugees who were resettled  in the United States to start a new life through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. The installation features “The Refugee Project,” an interactive visual narrative created from 40 years of UNHCR refugee data; New Roots, a long-form multimedia experience by visual journalist Sarah Ann Jump featuring a Congolese refugee family resettling in Rochester, New York; several short films of refugee families sharing their experiences as they resettle in California and adapt to their new lives; and a photo series by blogger and photographer Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York which features the personal stories of refugees recently cleared for resettlement in America.

Fowler—Art of the AustronesiansArt of the Austronesians: The Legacy of Indo-Pacific Voyaging, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, ongoing until 8/28. Art of the Austronesians explores the history and development of the arts and cultures of the Austronesian-speaking peoples—from their prehistoric origins in what is now Taiwan to their successive seafaring migrations over millennia throughout the Philippines, Indonesia, the Pacific, and beyond. The first major exhibition in the United States to examine the visual arts of the entire Austronesian world comparatively in a single project, it features a number of important pieces from the Fowler’s. Additional works borrowed from private California-based collections, many on view to the public for the first time, contribute to the remarkable breadth of the installation.

* WEEKEND OF APRIL 30 & MAY 1 *

Placita OlveraCinco de Mayo Celebration, El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument, Downtown LA, Saturday 4/30 & Sunday 5/1, 11am-9pm. Celebrate Mexico’s victory over French forces in Puebla, Mexico, in 1862 with popular and traditional music, exhibitor booths, dancing, and food.

 

REDCAT the giantREDCAT International Children’s Film Festival, Walt Disney Concert Hall Complex, Saturday 4/30 & Sunday 5/1. This is the second of three weekends for the 11th annual REDCAT International Children’s Film Festival featuring short-film programs that mesmerize moviegoers of all ages. Magical, adventurous works made by acclaimed filmmakers and up-and-coming auteurs showcase work from around the globe — including Norway (Herman’s Heart by Anne Kristin Berge included in Explore Galore program), Colombia, France, Russia, Taiwan, Argentina, Korea, Iran, and Mexico — to inspire the whole family. Programs are segmented by age and topic and include the latest in both live action and animated shorts. Please see festival website for schedule, movie details, and ticket information.

Barnsdall Art Sundays—Mexico: Cinco de Mayo Foil Art, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday 5/1, 10am-12pm. Join instructor Jose Sanchez for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. All materials are provided. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured.

KITC AnimalsKids in the Courtyard: Meet the Animals, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday 5/1, 2pm-4pm. Celebrate the closing of the Spirits in the Loom exhibition with this special kids’ event. This collection of textiles was collected in northeastern Laos and reflect religious and spiritual beliefs, incorporating Buddhist and Hindu mythology and shamanistic practices. They are embellished with supernatural serpents, elephants, and birds. From 2pm to 3pm, enjoy a “Reptacular Animals” presentation where kids can meet an 11-foot python, 100-pound tortoise, exotic birds, reptiles, lizards, and more. At 3pm, kids can use this experience as inspiration to make a scarf featuring their own inventive creature.

* WEEKEND OF MAY 7 & 8 *

Undiscovered Chinatown Walking TourThe Undiscovered Chinatown Tour, Chinatown, Downtown LA, Saturday 5/7, 10:30am-1pm (offered every first Saturday of the month) & 3pm-5:30pm (added in conjunction with CHINAWEEK). Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more when guided to the unique treasures–not to mention great bargains–to be found in Chinatown. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of L.A.’s Chinatown.

REDCAT troll trapREDCAT International Children’s Film Festival & Wrap Party, Walt Disney Concert Hall Complex, Saturday 5/7. This is the last day of the three-weekend REDCAT International Children’s Film Festival featuring short-film programs from around the world. Catch one of the programs today (Norway’s Herman’s Heart is on the program again today) and celebrate the end of the festival with the wrap party (1pm-3pm). Many special activities are planned. There will arts and crafts projects, a photo booth, and parent and kid-friendly snacks and beverages. Please see festival website for program schedule and details, ticket information, and to RSVP to Wrap Party.

Barnsdall Art Sundays—Holland: Traditional Motifs Table Runner for Mother’s Day, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday 5/8,10am-12pm. Join instructor Quan Trang for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. All materials are provided. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured.

* WEEKEND OF MAY 14 & 15 *

Norwegian Constitution Day FestivitiesParade time at Nansen Field, Nansen Field, Rolling Hills Estates, Sunday 5/15, 11am. This is a true Norwegian celebration organized by Sons of Norway. It is a relaxing, laid-back event on a huge open field. The field opens at 9:30am and the festivities kick off at 10:50am with the hoisting of the American and Norwegian flags. Program highlights include a performance by Norwegian recording artist Anine Stang, a Norwegian 17th of May church service, and a 17th of May speech. Then there’s a parade led by a marching band followed by the sale of traditional Norwegian 17th of May foods such as hot dogs, hamburgers, Solo, waffles, and ice cream. There are also vendor stalls with Norwegian goods and plenty of games and prizes for the kids. Read about one of our earlier celebrations at Nansen Field here.

CicLAviaCicLAvia – Southeast Cities, Sunday 5/15, 9am-4pm. Leave your car behind and explore a new area of LA by bike, foot, skateboard, or stroller. For the first time, CicLAvia will connect six communities in Southeast Los Angeles with an open streets event. The communities of Huntington Park, Walnut Park, South Gate, Florence-Firestone, Lynwood, and Watts will host the country’s largest open streets event. You will enjoy the sights, music, food, and culture that make LA such a vibrant city.

Celebrate_IsraelCelebrate Israel, Cheviot Hills Recreation Center, West Los Angeles, Sunday 5/15, 11am-6pm. Come celebrate Israel’s 68th Independence Day. This year’s theme is Israel: A Mosaic of Jewish Cultures. Attendees will have the opportunity to explore various Jewish and Israeli ethnicities around the world and within Israel. Stop by the Eastern European, American, African, and Middle Eastern pavilions and learn through art, food, and music and participate in various hands-on projects while exploring and experiencing the different cultures. The day’s activities and events include musical performances, an artist marketplace, a kids zone and a teen area, an amusement park with rides, and food vendors serving traditional food and “street fare” (all 100% Kosher) that will inspire your next trip to Israel.

Barnsdall Art Sundays, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday 5/15,10am-12pm. Come for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. All materials are provided. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured.

Family Jam HulaFamily Jam: Dance the Hula, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday 5/15, 2pm-4pm. Celebrate the diversity of Austronesian culture as you admire works in the exhibition Art of the Austronesians. Then, participate in a spectacular hula dance performance. Learn steps and movements from this dance form developed by Polynesian peoples who settled in the Hawaiian Islands.

* WEEKEND OF MAY 21 & 22 *

Barnsdall Art Sundays, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday 5/22,10am-12pm. Come for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. All materials are provided. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured.

* MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND OF MAY 28 & 29 & 30 *

Scottish FestScottish Fest, Orange County Fair & Event Center, Costa Mesa, Saturday 5/28 & Sunday 5/29, 9am-6pm. Enjoy a festival of Celtic entertainment and food. There will be competitions in Piping & Drumming, Highland Dancing, and Scottish Athletics as well as a full schedule of entertainment.

Greek_Festival43nd Annual Valley Greek Festival, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Northridge, Saturday 5/28, Sunday 5/29, & Monday 5/30, 1pm-9pm. Enjoy a cultural experience for all ages with live music, dancing, gourmet food, homemade pastries, cooking demonstrations, children’s activities, a Greek market, and a variety of shopping boutiques.

Barnsdall Art Sundays, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday 5/29,10am-12pm. Come for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. All materials are provided. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured.

Los Angeles Culture Challenge for April 2016 & Festival of Books

April 2016Usually, April means the annual Scandinavian Festival is around the corner. Sadly, this year it is not happening. In November 2015, the Scandinavian American Cultural and Historical Foundation Board of Directors voted to postpone the 42nd Annual Scandinavian Festival until 2017. It seems they found themselves with not enough time to plan properly for this year. They promise to be back in 2017 “with a 42nd Festival of which we will all be proud!” However, there are many other events and activities to broaden your cultural understanding and appreciation of our area, and another of my favorite LA events is also on this month, the Los Angeles Times’ Festival of Books.

* WEEKEND OF APRIL 2 & 3 *

Fowler BendatCelebrate/Demonstrate: Photographs of Global LA by Cindy Bendat, Fowler Museum at UCLA, ongoing until May 8, 2016. Featuring compelling images of festivals and political rallies, this exhibition highlights the extraordinary cultural diversity of the greater Los Angeles area. California-based photographer Bendat has documented community events in Southern California and throughout the world for several decades. Her photographs offer visitors an intimate view of three kinds of annual celebrations held in and around Los Angeles: a late-October fiesta for the Guatemalan folk saint San Simón, mid-January Orthodox Ethiopian Timket (Epiphany) festivities, and the mid-April Cambodian New Year or Chaul Chnam Thmey. These images illustrate the ways in which immigrants maintain homeland traditions in the United States and express their ethnic and cultural identity.

Undiscovered Chinatown Walking TourThe Undiscovered Chinatown Tour, Chinatown, Downtown, Saturday 4/2, 10:30am-1pm. Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more when guided to the unique treasures–not to mention great bargains–to be found in Chinatown. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of L.A.’s Chinatown. This tour is offered every first Saturday of the month.

Barnsdall Art Park SundaysBarnsdall Art Sundays—Austria: Hundertwasser Inspired Painting, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday 4/3, 10am-12pm. Join instructor Quan Trang for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. All materials are provided. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured.

Bowers JapaneseJapanese Cherry Blossom Festival, Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, Sunday 4/3, 11am-3:30pm. Join the Bowers Museum in celebrating the Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival with art, music, and dancing.

LACMA AndellAndell Family Sundays—Poetic Printmaking, LACMA, Sunday 4/3, 12:30pm-3:30pm. After exploring how Japanese printmakers added poems to their scenes of life and landscape in 18th- and 19th- century Japan in the special exhibition Living for the Moment: Japanese Prints from the Barbara S. Bowman Collection, write poetry, make music, and learn printmaking in art workshops. Also 4/10, 4/17, and 4/24.

* WEEKEND OF APRIL 9 & 10 *

Festival of BooksFestival of Books, USC Campus, Downtown LA, Saturday 4/9 and Sunday 4/10. Enjoy two days of not only books and authors, but also music, food, art, culture, and fun. The Festival of Books is Los Angeles Times’ annual celebration of ideas, creativity, and the written word. The Festival brings book lovers and fun seekers of all ages together with their favorite authors, artists, chefs, musicians, and entertainers. Go Metro and avoid the hassle of finding parking. You’ll also save 10% on your total purchase of official 2016 Festival of Books merchandise, including mugs, T-shirts, and more. The Expo Line will drop you directly at the south end of the festival. For more information, see the Program Guide, the official program for the festival with articles, a map, schedule, exhibitor list, and more.

Renaissance Pleasure FaireRenaissance Pleasure Faire, Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area, Irwindale, Saturdays & Sundays, April 9 to May 22. Travel back to the 16th century and experience the glory of life during the Renaissance era. There will be artisans of all media, entertainment galore, food trucks and booths, games and rides (including pony and camel rides), a Kids Kingdom (with games, crafts, story-telling, song, shows, and characters), and a gnome quest!

Aquarium of the Pacific International Childrens DayInternational Children’s Day Festival, Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, Saturday 4/9 & Sunday 4/10. Celebrating the amazing talents of children of all cultures, this festival features West African, Mexican, Pacific Islander, Cambodian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Persian dance performances. Enjoy performances by a children’s choir and martial arts demonstrations. Kids of all ages can partake in an international percussion circle, face painting, and Native American and Pacific Islander traditional children’s crafts and games.

Chumash Day18th Annual Chumash Day Powwow and Inter-Tribal Gathering, Malibu Bluffs Park, Saturday 4/9 & Sunday 4/10. This year’s 18th annual Chumash Day Powwow will celebrate Native Americans from all over the country. Hundreds of tribes will gather at Malibu Bluffs Park. Native American food, craft vendors, tribal ceremonies, and dances will be a part of the event on both days. Grand Entry will take place 1pm at Saturday and 12pm on Sunday.

Barnsdall Art Park SundaysBarnsdall Art Sundays—Thailand: Thai New Year Elephant Patch, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday 4/10, 10am-12pm. Join instructor Sofia Mas for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. All materials are provided. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured.

LACMA AndellAndell Family Sundays—Poetic Printmaking, LACMA, Sunday 4/10, 12:30pm-3:30pm. Check out how Japanese printmakers added poems to their scenes of life and landscape in 18th- and 19th- century Japan in the special exhibition Living for the Moment: Japanese Prints from the Barbara S. Bowman Collection. Then write poetry, make music, and learn printmaking in art workshops. Also 4/17 and 4/24.

* WEEKEND OF APRIL 16 & 17 *

Bunkai Sai44th Annual Bunka-Sai Japanese Cultural Festival, Ken Miller Recreation Center, Torrance, Saturday 4/16 & Sunday 4/17. Come enjoy Japanese culture at the Bunka-Sai Festival sponsored by the Torrance Sister City Association. There will be an anime contest; Kamishibai storytelling; Aikido, Judo, Kendo, Naginata, and Karate; Koto, Taiko, Minyo, Shamisen, and Odori; Ikebana and Bonsai; Shodo calligraphy and tea ceremony; Origami, Roketsu, and Kimekomi Ningyo Dolls; arts and crafts boutiques, games for children, hourly drawings; and food.

Andell Family Sundays—Poetic Printmaking, LACMA, Sunday 4/17, 12:30pm-3:30pm. Check out how Japanese printmakers added poems to their scenes of life and landscape in 18th- and 19th- century Japan in the special exhibition Living for the Moment: Japanese Prints from the Barbara S. Bowman Collection. Then write poetry, make music, and learn printmaking in art workshops. Also 4/24. 

* WEEKEND OF APRIL 23 & 24 *

Annenberg Space for PhotographyREFUGEE, The Annenberg Space for Photography, Century City, opens April 23 and continues until August 21. Through images created by five internationally acclaimed artists, REFUGEE explores the lives of refugees from a host of diverse populations dispersed and displaced throughout the world. The exhibit features photographs taken in Bangladesh, Cameroon, Colombia, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Mexico, Myanmar, Serbia, Slovenia, and the United States.

Skylight StudiosNew Americans, Skylight Studios, Century City, opens April 23 and continues until August 21. In conjunction with the REFUGEE exhibit, the New Americans installation at Skylight Studios features a collection of stories on refugees who were resettled  in the United States to start a new life through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. The installation features “The Refugee Project,” an interactive visual narrative created from 40 years of UNHCR refugee data; New Roots, a long-form multimedia experience by visual journalist Sarah Ann Jump featuring a Congolese refugee family resettling in Rochester, New York; several short films of refugee families sharing their experiences as they resettle in California and adapt to their new lives; and a photo series by blogger and photographer Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York which features the personal stories of refugees recently cleared for resettlement in America.

Barnsdall Art Sundays—Armenia: Pomegranate Vase, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday 4/10, 10am-12pm. Join instructor Sarah Hage for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. All materials are provided. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured.

Fowler—Art of the AustronesiansArt of the Austronesians: The Legacy of Indo-Pacific Voyaging, Fowler Museum at UCLA, opens Sunday 4/24 and continues until 8/28. Art of the Austronesians explores the history and development of the arts and cultures of the Austronesian-speaking peoples—from their prehistoric origins in what is now Taiwan to their successive seafaring migrations over millennia throughout the Philippines, Indonesia, the Pacific, and beyond. The first major exhibition in the United States to examine the visual arts of the entire Austronesian world comparatively in a single project, it features a number of important pieces from the Fowler’s. Additional works borrowed from private California-based collections, many on view to the public for the first time, contribute to the remarkable breadth of the installation.

Andell Family Sundays—Poetic Printmaking, LACMA, Sunday 4/24, 12:30pm-3:30pm. Check out how Japanese printmakers added poems to their scenes of life and landscape in 18th- and 19th- century Japan in the special exhibition Living for the Moment: Japanese Prints from the Barbara S. Bowman Collection. Then write poetry, make music, and learn printmaking in art workshops.

Fowler—KIC sailingKids in the Courtyard: Let’s Go Sailing, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Sunday 4/24, 1pm-4pm. Take a look at the beautiful boats in Art of the Austronesians: The Legacy of the Indo-Pacific Voyaging and imagine going on your own journey. Create a mini sailboat and test it out in the fountain. You’ll even have the chance to paddle around the courtyard in the Fowler’s land-faring “boat.”

Los Angeles Culture Challenge for March 2016

March 2016

March offers many opportunities to explore all that Los Angeles has to offer. There’s an ongoing photography exhibit that highlights the cultural diversity of the area. Tours, festivals, and workshops offer the opportunity to explore cultures more deeply. Guatemala, Ethiopia, China, Iran, South American cultures… where will you go this month?

 

* WEEKEND OF MARCH 5 & 6 *

Fowler BendatCelebrate/Demonstrate: Photographs of Global LA by Cindy Bendat, Fowler Museum at UCLA, ongoing until May 8, 2016. Featuring compelling images of festivals and political rallies, this exhibition highlights the extraordinary cultural diversity of the greater Los Angeles area. California-based photographer Bendat has documented community events in Southern California and throughout the world for several decades. Her photographs offer visitors an intimate view of three kinds of annual celebrations held in and around Los Angeles: a late-October fiesta for the Guatemalan folk saint San Simón, mid-January Orthodox Ethiopian Timket (Epiphany) festivities, and the mid-April Cambodian New Year or Chaul Chnam Thmey. These images illustrate the ways in which immigrants maintain homeland traditions in the United States and express their ethnic and cultural identity.

Undiscovered Chinatown Walking TourThe Undiscovered Chinatown Tour, Chinatown, Downtown, Saturday 3/5, 10:30am-1pm. (Offered every first Saturday of the month). Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more when guided to the unique treasures–not to mention great bargains–to be found in Chinatown. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of L.A.’s Chinatown.

Los Angeles Lantern FestivalChinese American Museum’s Lantern Festival, El Pueblo Historical Monument, Saturday 3/5, 12pm-7pm. Join Angelenos beneath Chinese lanterns in the vibrancy of Downtown L.A. for the 15th annual Los Angeles Lantern Festival. The free signature event marks the closing of the Lunar New Year festivities with engaging community booths, live entertainment, music, arts & crafts, and food trucks.

Bowers Carnival FestivalCarnival Family Festival, Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, Sunday 3/6, 11am-4pm. Celebrate at the Bowers Museum with Carnival-inspired art projects, music, and live performances. All day there will be face painting, art projects (Carnival masks), and beignet tasting. Highlights of scheduled events include a fashion show of Bolivian Carnival dresses, Brazilian martial arts, and dance and music performances.

Barnsdall_Art_Park_SundaysBarnsdall Art Sundays, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday 3/7, 10am-12pm. Celebrate culture and creativity at the Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park. Come for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. All materials are provided. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured. Visit their website to see schedule.

LACMA Art of ChinaAndell Family Sundays—Art of China, LACMA, Sunday 3/6, 12:30pm-3:30pm. From ancient pottery and jade carvings to exquisite furniture and landscape paintings, check out the variety and beauty of Chinese art. Then, make your own artwork inspired by the collection in workshops.

* WEEKEND OF MARCH 12 & 13 *

Fowler on the TownFowler on the Town: Botánica and Injera: A Guatemalan and Ethiopian Experience, Saturday 3/12. Cindy Bendat’s images capture the diverse populations of Los Angeles, such as the Guatemalan and Ethiopian communities. During this off-site program, join Curator of Latin American and Caribbean Popular Arts Patrick A. Polk to explore a Guatemalan botánica (a religious goods store) in the mid-Wilshire district and then enjoy an Ethiopian lunch in nearby Little Ethiopia. See website for reservation information.

NowruzNowruz: Celebrating Iranian New Year, LACMA, Sunday 3/13, 11:30am-7pm. Join Farhang Foundation as they celebrate Iranian New Year (Nowruz) and the first day of spring with a full day of activities throughout LACMA’s campus. The event will feature live performances, music, dance, storytelling and calligraphy for children, a traditional Iranian costume parade, and more.

Family Jam MasksFamily Jam: Masks, Drums, and Song, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Sunday 3/13, 2pm-4pm. Feel the beat and experience the colorful power of a masked-dancing performance from Guatemala. Learn about the inspiring way of Wanaragua, where warriors of indigenous and African descent disguised themselves and fought for survival against British invaders. Afterward, make your own mask. Search the gallery for photos of Guatemalan celebrations in Celebrate/Demonstrate: Photographs of Global LA by Cindy Bendat and enjoy the final day of Disguise: Masks and Global African Art.

Barnsdall Art Sundays—Ancient Rome: Lares Altars, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday 3/7, 10am-12pm. Celebrate culture and creativity at the Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park. Come for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. All materials are provided. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured.

* WEEKEND OF MARCH 19 & 20 *

LACMA Art of ChinaAndell Family Sundays—Art of China, LACMA, Sunday 3/20, 12:30pm-3:30pm. From ancient pottery and jade carvings to exquisite furniture and landscape paintings, check out the variety and beauty of Chinese art. Then, make your own artwork inspired by the collection in workshops.

 

Barnsdall Art Park SundaysBarnsdall Art Sundays—Japan: Koi Fish Wind Sock, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday 3/7, 10am-12pm. Celebrate culture and creativity at the Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park. Come for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. All materials are provided. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured.

* WEEKEND OF MARCH 26 & 27 *

Blessing of AnimalsBlessing of the Animals, El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument, Downtown LA, Saturday 3/26. This tradition of blessing the animals for the benefits they provide mankind dates back to the 4th century, when San Antonio De Abad was named the patron saint of the animal kingdom and began to bless animals to promote good health. It has been celebrated in the Plaza since 1930. Bring your pets to be blessed. Blessing begins at 2pm and lasts for an hour. Line-up for the blessing begins at 1pm. There will be live entertainment, a petting zoo, and free pony rides from 12pm to 5pm.