It’s chic to be cheap this summer in Los Angeles. Some of the newest, most culturally stimulating events of the season are either free or super affordable. So pack a homemade picnic or bring a bit of food truck cash, stake out a piece of grass and spread a blanket under the stars. Here are just a handful of the city’s many public performances for you to choose from.
Street Food Cinema
Fun food trucks, cult classic movies backlit by big-city lights and up and coming local bands: that’s the draw at the second annual Street Food Cinema, a 15-week series that takes over a patch of Exposition Park in downtown Los Angeles every Saturday night all summer. Want your “Rocky Horror Picture Show” with some Koji beef on the side? How about “Mean Girls” and some Maine lobster? That’s what you’ll get at this casual party, where high-definition films are projected outdoors on a 52-foot screen. The event is like an outdoor picnic that evolves into a live music performance, followed by the outdoor movie. It’s even dog-friendly. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the movies start at 8 p.m. The summer series ends with “Skyfall” on August 17. No alcohol is allowed, as this is a public park. Tickets are $10 for adults; $5 for kids 6-12. Children 5 and under are free. Or check for deals on websites like Living Social.
Griffith Park Shakespeare Festival
L.A. may be known more for movies and rock and roll than high-brow performances, but Shakespeare and other playwrights of his era will be well-represented this summer at L.A.’s Griffith Park. The non-profit Independent Shakespeare Company hosts three free plays beginning with “She Stoops to Conquer” by Oliver Goldsmith, opening on June 27. All of the plays take place at Griffith Park’s Old Zoo amphitheater area and run four times, Thursday through Sunday, the week of each performance. Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” opens on July 5 followed by “As You Like It” on August 1. Bring a picnic and blanket or low-backed chairs. Dress warmly as it gets chilly. No alcohol is allowed in the public park.
Here’s a bit of surreal summer fun: You can sit in MacArthur Park and listen to songwriter/singer Jimmy Webb live, performing his Donna Summer classic “MacArthur Park”. Webb, who also penned “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” and “Up, Up and Away” opens the free Levitt summer music festival on June 15. The series, featuring just about every musical genre imaginable, runs through August 25 with performances most nights at 8 p.m. Picnic on a grassy lawn with food from home or something purchased from a variety of vendors at the food court. Mexican folkloric, Latin, jazz, bluegrass, Americana and Celtic music are just some of the sounds that will be represented. This season’s highlights include a night with singer Karla Bonoff as well as special kids’ shows every Friday. There will even be an open-mike night for the city’s best kid singers.