There are a number of Old West movie sets scattered around the borders of Los Angeles, and Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studio in Santa Clarita is one of them. Although events are spread around Santa Clarita and Newhall, the studio lot is the centerpiece of the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival, which features cowboy music, a western wear fashion show and vendors, cowboy movies, poetry and storytelling, a Medicine Show Revue, children's activities and an Old Town Hoedown. Some events sell out, but there's still plenty to do to get you in the cowboy/cowgirl spirit.
When: April 24-27, 2014
Where: Various locations in Santa Clarita and Newhall, CA
Photos by Ryan Resella, courtesy of Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival
If you're looking for the spectacle of a hi-production-value Easter story, the Passion Play at Shepherd of the Hills Church in Porter Ranch might fit the bill. Other continuing traditions are the Easter Egg Hunt at the LA County Arboretum, the Blessing of the Animals at Olvera Street and Big Bunny's Spring Fling at the LA Zoo. There's something for everyone in the Easter Events in LA Guide.
Photo courtesy of the LA Zoo
The official press opening for the Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride and Super Silly Funland at Universal Studios Hollywood is tomorrow, Thursday, April 10, and it opens to the public Saturday April 12, 2014. Impatient for the official opening, I was able to take an advance run on the new ride with some friends while it was in previews last week.
Replacing the Terminator 3D ride on the upper lot, Minion Mayhem is set up more like the Simpsons Ride, although the 8-seat cars are open to each other in kind of an amphitheater layout. In the holding area outside the ride, Gru and his three daughters recruit you to be trained as Minions. Once inside, settled in your seat, the 3D glasses go on and your training begins. Things don't quite go as planned and you're off on a flying, falling adventure with Margo, Edith and Agnes. The seat shifts around with the motion of the scene.
On the way out of the ride, join in the Dance Party and watch yourself live on video high up on the wall.
Of our crew, 7-year-old Margo says it was "scary, fun, cute and weird." Nine-year-old Zoe called it "Amazing!" Dad, who hadn't seen the movie, said it was fun, but he didn't get it. Mom thought it was age appropriate, but not as good visually as some of the other rides. I agree with all of them. You don't need to have ever seen The Simpsons to follow
what's going on in The Simpson's Ride or to have seen Transformers to get into the action of that ride. Minion Mayhem, on the other hand, benefits more from having seen the movies. Nevertheless, it's cute and fun, and hopefully they will have worked out the visual bugs in previews.
Super Silly Funland was still under wraps behind its purple castle arch, guarded by Minion soldiers, but from what I could see, the new play area is a visually enticing recreation of Gru's neighborhood, Miss Hattie's Home for Girls and the seaside carnival. I look forward to checking it out after it's open. If you get there before I do, come back and tell us all about it!
This is year three in Universal's 5-year expansion plan. Transformers The Ride was a great new addition in 2012. In 2013 they remade the center of the upper lot into a rather disappointing centerpiece, the Art Deco Universal Plaza. This year's introduction of Despicable Me Minion Mayhem and Super Silly Funland is the largest project so far, and the first fully themed area in the park. In 2015, the entire area around The Simpson's Ride will be themed as Springfield, and the Fast & Furious--Supercharged will be added to the Tram Tour. 2016 will complete the 5-year project with the fully immersive The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Book lovers will gather in Los Angeles April 12-13, 2014 for the country's largest celebration of literary accomplishment. The LA Times Festival of Books will bring 140,000 readers and collectors to see 450 authors and 300 exhibitors to a celebrate the written word. The free event will return to the University of Southern California campus. The Festival includes literary panels, author book signings, storytelling, readings for children and adults, music and dance performances. Some events require tickets, which are free, but have a $1 processing fee. These tickets are made available about a week before the event on a first come basis. A $35 festival pass will let you reserve tickets for up to 8 events in advance. There are also writing workshops organized in conjunction with the festival for a fee.
Celebrity authors this year include Hugh Acheson, Shoreh Aghdashloo, Gustavo Arellano, Reza Aslan, Philip Bailey, Mayim Bialik, T.C. Boyle, LeVar Burton, Roy Choi, Sandra Cisneros, Jackie Collins, Giada de Laurentiis, Rob Delaney, Barbara Ehrenreich, John Green, Carla Hall, Daniel Handler, Robert Hilburn, Pico Iyer, Diego Luna, Chris Kluwe, Terry McMillan, B.J. Novak, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Katherine Schwarzenegger, Maria Shriver, Alicia Silverstone, Susan Straight, Marlo Thomas, Stephen Tobolowsky, Sandra Tsing Loh, Henry Winkler, Rachel Zoe and Adrian Todd Zunigaand more.
To help navigate the festival there's a free LA Times Festival of Books App for iTunes and Android.
When: April 12-13, 2014, Saturday 10-6, Sunday, 10-5
Where: USC Campus, Exposition Blvd and S Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90089
Cost: Festival is free. Indoor panels and lectures are free, but require tickets.
Parking: $10 in campus lots. Shuttles will run from outer campus lots.
Photo of DJ Lance from a previous Festival of Books, photos © Kayte Deioma licensed to About Los Angeles Travel
It's baseball season in Los Angeles and catching a game at Dodger Stadium, just north of Downtown LA is a fun outing for the whole family. The cheap seats can be had for about the price of a movie in LA (I know movies cost a lot less in some parts of the country). There are special promotional days with free gifts or activities, including Fireworks Fridays and various giveaway days, .
If you're at Disneyland or other points in Orange County, you're not far from Angel Stadium, where you can catch a game by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Angel Stadium also offers tours to the public, but they are not daily, so you have to work around their schedule. Look for discount tickets to Angels games. More Things to Do in Anaheim.
Photo © 2011 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com
For six weekends a year the monarchy reigns in Southern California and lords and ladies take over a piece of L.A. County real estate for the Renaissance Pleasure Faire. The festivities begin April 5, 2014 at the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area in Irwindale, with early bird ticket rates through April 1.
Hundreds of costumed reenactors set up period encampments. Dozens of musical, theatrical and dance acts perform on multiple stages. Merchandise and food vendors are in keeping with the times. Queen Elizabeth and her court parade daily to watch the knights compete in jousting matches.
If you haven't had enough living history, the merriment continues at the Koroneburg European Old World Festival in May and June. The Koroneburg Festival is a reenactment of Germany between 1450 and 1600 in the permanent renaissance village at Crossroads Riverview Park. The fictional Baron Heinrich von Lauffer hosts the event on his estate along the Rhine River (Santa Ana River). Reenactors, performers and vendors will recreate the time.
When: Weekends, May 10 - June 15, 2014
Hours: Saturdays 11 am - 7 pm, Sundays 11 am - 6 pm, open until 9 pm May 24 and June 14
Where: Koroneburg Village at Crossroads Riverview Park, 14600 River Rd, Corona, CA
Cost: $18 Adults, $15 Children 5-11 and seniors 62+, $12 military with ID, under 5 free, Weekend Pass $25 ($20 seniors/ children/military). Advance ticket discount coupon and group discounts on the website.
Parking: $5 car, truck or RV parking. $10 preferred. No tents.
Photo © 2006 Kayte Deioma, courtesy of www.KayteDeioma.com
Whether you're a fan of gritty Film Noir, First Glances or short laughs, whether you like your movies in English, French, Hindi, or multiple Asian languages, the month of April provides every opportunity for film-lovers visiting Los Angeles to be immersed in movie culture. There are film festivals all year long in the LA area, but April reigns as movie month with at least 8 different themed film festivals.
The month starts out with the Going Green Festival April 1, 2014 and continues with the , TCM Classic Film Festival, L.A. Comedy Shorts, the Festival of Film Noir, Indian Film Festival of LA, and the City of Lights-City of Angels French Film Festival. The month wraps up with the Newport Beach Film Festival.
In addition to seeing great movies that you can't find elsewhere, there are often opportunities to hear from actors and filmmakers, and attend panel discussions or social events associated with the festivals.
For dates and details visit my Calendar of Los Angeles Film Festivals.
We just finished Persian New Year and the Cambodian and Thai New Year is almost upon us. With the largest Cambodian population outside of Cambodia, Long Beach is the place to celebrate Cambodian New Year. Thai New Year celebrations take place in Hollywood, and North Hollywood. Although the official New Year dates are April 13-16, celebrations are spread over multiple weekends from April 6-19, 2014. Click the links below for the full event lists.
Photo © 2004 Kayte Deioma, courtesy of www.KayteDeioma.com
World Puppet Day was March 31, but Los Angeles is celebrating for two weeks in April with LA Puppet Fest. Every puppetry organization from Santa Monica to Pasadena is getting in on the act with a full calendar of events. All kinds of puppets from marionettes to shadow puppets will be interpreting everything from children's stories to an adults-only PUPPETZILLA LA Puppet Fest Slam. First is the April Fool's Puppet Ball in West Hollywood.
There are 20 different events from dozens of puppetry organizations including a Million Puppet Parade April 6 on the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica. If you don't have a puppet, you can make one at the puppet-making workshop that morning.
Many events are free. Ticketed events range from $5 to $20. For the full schedule, visit www.lapuppetfest.com.
Photo courtesy of Bob Baker Marionette Theater
Unlimited 4-oz pours of dozens of international and domestic microbrews and gourmet food truck fare to help sop it up accompanied by live music - what better way to spend a weekend afternoon in LA? The event is in two sessions on Saturday this year instead of being two days.
The $40 ticket to the LA Beer Festival includes all 4 oz pours of beer you can drink in 3 hours, but the food is extra.
When: Sat April 5, 2014, 12-3 pm OR 5-8 pm
Where: LA Center Studios, 1201 West 5th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90017
Cost: $40 includes the beer tastings, food is extra. Tickets are only available online.
Photo courtesy of the LA Beer Festival