In April there are ample opportunities to not only immerse yourself in the traditions of other cultures and times, but also to get a close-up look at Los Angeles both past and present. The Scandinavian Festival and CicLAvia are high on my list, but unfortunately, due to the kids’ sports schedules and the fact that the events take place on the same weekend, they will be hard for me to attend this year. Hopefully, some of you can enjoy them instead. Here’s a rundown of some special events happening in Los Angeles this month. Which will you try to attend?
* WEEKEND OF APRIL 5 & 6 *
Scandinavian Festival, Cal Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, Saturday & Sunday. This is the 40th year of the annual festival featuring Nordic cultures. Both days of the festival will be filled with music, dancing, food, vendors, food and craft demonstrations, lectures, and activities for young and old alike. The Viking Encampment and Sami Village will be there once again. Children’s activities include making head wreaths with real flowers, carving wooden butter knives, raising the Maypole and dancing around it while singing traditional songs, learning the ancient Viking game Kubb, and playing Croquet. This year the festival will also have a Children’s Theater with performances by community children’s groups and a puppet show of the Hans Christian Andersen story “The Nightingale”.
International Children’s Day, Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, Saturday & Sunday. The Aquarium’s annual festival celebrates the talents of children of all cultures. The festival will feature West African, Mexican, Pacific Islander, Cambodian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Persian traditional dance performances. Kids of all ages can enjoy martial arts demonstrations and participate in an international percussion circle, face painting, mural painting, and Native American and Pacific Islander children’s games and crafts. Even the Aquarium’s café has specials for the day. See website for a schedule of performances and events.
The Renaissance Pleasure Faire, Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area, Irwindale, Saturdays and Sundays, April 5 – May 18. 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!
CicLAvia – Iconic Wilshire Boulevard, Downtown to Miracle Mile, Sunday, 9am-4pm. Explore a legendary thoroughfare via bike or on foot as you travel along a 6.3 mile car-free stretch on Wilshire Boulevard between Downtown and Fairfax Avenue. There are hubs along the route with a variety of activities for participants of all ages, including music, performances, food trucks, and more. The hubs for the April event are One Wilshire, MacArthur Park, Koreatown, Mid-Wilshire, and Miracle Mile. Doobie and I participated in a CicLAvia last April (you can read about it here) and it was an experience unlike any other we’d had in LA and I’d love to do it again.
Kids in the Courtyard: Magic Tricks for April Fools, Fowler Museum, UCLA, Sunday, 1-4pm. Tricksters serve important roles across cultures. Whether named Prometheus, Coyote, or Esu, these rule breakers are bound to stir things up! Watch a magic performance by Wacko and explore your inner trickster, then learn riddles, tricks, and pranks to get your loved ones to giggle. The event is inspired by the exhibit Sinful Saints and Saintly Sinners at the Margins of the Americas at the Fowler Museum.
Haute Couture with Hatitude!, California African American Museum, Exposition Park, Sunday, 1pm. CAAM’s spring celebration highlights “haute couture” with a unique fashion showcase of a local designer. There will also be music and dance performances. Remember to bring your special hat for the “Hatitude” competition. Men, women, girls, and boys can compete in various categories and win prizes. You can also design your own hat at a workshop before the competition.
* WEEKEND OF APRIL 12 & 13 *
Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, USC Campus, Saturday & Sunday. Enjoy two days of not only books and authors, but also live music, poetry readings, comedy performances, photography exhibits, film screenings followed by Q&A’s, artists creating work on-site, and chef demonstrations. There are open-air stages with performances and readings by entertainers and authors (free for all, schedule here) and indoor discussions on a variety of topics (ticket info here). We’ve attended as a family and enjoyed wandering the grounds, listening to children’s authors read their stories (in 2012, the kids were excited to hear David Shannon and Jeff Kinney), and eating from the food trucks.
16th Annual Chumash Day Powwow and Inter-Tribal Gathering, Malibu Bluffs Park, Saturday & Sunday. Experience native foods, children’s activities, story telling, Native American arts and crafts, tribal ceremonies, and dances. Grand Entry or Opening Ceremonies will take place at 1pm on Saturday and 12pm on Sunday.
Family Jam: Nigerian Talking Drums with Francis Awe, Fowler Museum, UCLA, Sunday, 2pm-4pm. Feel the beat with your whole body in this interactive dance class and performance. Presented in conjunction with Fiftieth Anniversary Gifts, II, featuring recently donated works of art from across the African continent.
* WEEKEND OF APRIL 19 & 20 *
World City Series: Khukh Tenger & Huun-Huur-Tu, W.M. Keck Children’s Amphitheatre, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Saturday, 11am and 12:30pm. Experience the dance traditions, customs, and rituals of a nomadic people from Mongolia, and learn about the traditional art of “throat-singing” from a group originating from the Siberian/Mongolian border called Tuva. Along with the musical performance, a visual art workshop will be offered to give children the opportunity to explore the featured culture through unique art-making projects.
Día de los Niños, Grand Park, Downtown, Saturday, 11am-4pm. Enjoy a fun-filled day of health, wellness, and cultural activities for all. Begin at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes (11am-1pm) with storytelling and children’s film screenings in the galleries, interactive storytelling and a mariachi performance onstage, and various hands-on activities in the patio and garden. At 1 o’clock, join in a fun walk with music to Grand Park for more events and activities on the lawn and onstage. See website for schedule of activities.
TAIKOPROJECT and Ryutaro Kaneko: LifeRhythm, Bing Theater at LACMA, Saturday, 7:30 pm. “LifeRhythm seamlessly blends the sublime virtuosity of renowned percussionist Ryutaro Kaneko with the undeniable energy of TAIKOPROJECT, an ensemble of premiere taiko drummers committed to preserving and advancing the Japanese art of taiko in the U.S.” See website for ticket information.
* WEEKEND OF APRIL 26 & 27 *
World Music for Kids – The Music of Veracruz, The Broad Stage at the Santa Monica College of Performing Arts Center, Saturday, 11am and 1pm. Enjoy the vibrant rhythms of Son Jarocho music from Veracruz. Master musician, singer, and craftsman, Cesar Castro is joined by instrumentalists Xochi Flores, Juan Perez, and Chuy Sandoval to share their culture, love, and knowledge of this blend of indigenous Mexican, African, and Arabic sounds that has become the signature of Latin music today. Stay after the show to meet and greet the artists while enjoying milk and cookies.
Annual L.A. Heritage Day, El Pueblo Historical Monument, Downtown, Sunday, 11am-4pm. Learn about Los Angeles and Southern California’s history through tours, museums, children’s activities, presentations, giveaways, food, and other activities. Special tours of Olvera Street, Avila Adobe, Museum of Social Justice, Sepulveda House Museum, the Chinese American Museum, and Plaza Firehouse Museum will be available, as well as the América Tropical Interpretive Center. The entire event and all activities will take place at the birthplace of Los Angeles and adjacent to world-famous Olvera Street, making for a full day of free history, fun, and entertainment.