It’s been a while since you’ve been to the Bowl. Between the need for a sitter, stacked parking and late night, it’s something lots of parents put on hold. But what if we told you you can go to all the shows for free. In the sunlight. With the kids. (And without stacked parking!) Our award for the best kept LA summer secret goes to the LA Phil morning rehearsals at the Hollywood Bowl. Read on for the scoop!
The Secret Scoop
Rehearsals usually take place when the LA Phil is performing, so every Tuesday and Thursday (and some Fridays) throughout the entire Hollywood Bowl season. They start promptly at 9:30 a.m. and go to about 12:30 p.m. with a 20-minute intermission. While this is a fairly set rehearsal schedule, it can change depending on performers (open rehearsals are all subject to the artists permission) so be sure to always call ahead, just to be safe.
Parking is free, easy and plentiful; an absolute rarity in this town. No stack parking or pay (a lot) lots that come with regular performances. Park directly behind the Bowl itself (where VIP parking is located for performances) and walk in past the artist entrance. Friendly staff will point you to the area that is open to the public. Then just sit back and relax.
What You’ll See
The first thing you’ll notice is that there are more people on stage than there are in the audience. In fact, it’s the exact opposite of going to an actual Hollywood Bowl show. No crowds. No fuss. (No tickets!) Just music and open seating as far as the eye can see.
Kids and grownups alike are entranced by watching the conductor shout out commands, seeing the orchestra play in their shorts and listening to the different sections practice independently. Winds, percussion, or strings: your kid is bound to have a new favorite by the end of the day. You might hear the same overture twice or even three times, but it’s different every time. It’s an amazing auditory lesson in practice makes perfect.
Check the schedule to see which shows your kids might really love: this summer some concerts kids may particularly enjoy include Harry Potter, Mamma Mia!, Raiders of the Lost Ark, the Muppets and many more. Then call to confirm that the rehearsal for that show will be open to the public. (Yes, we’re emphasizing this: once you’ve showed up to an empty Bowl, you would too!)
Shhhh, Artists at Work
Remember, you’re visiting artists at their work place, and this is one spot where inside voices need to be used even though you’re outside. The LA Phil asked us to remind everyone that when attending a rehearsal, please respect the musicians on stage and do not make noise that is disruptive to the working schedule, otherwise you may be asked to leave.
The kids can literally climb to their hearts content. All the exploring that they want to do during an actual show can now be done in the daylight. So you can sit back and relax, taking in the fresh air and the beautiful music. And if the kids need a break from being quiet you can take them outside the seating area and let them stretch and run and play before returning to listen to more music. The picnic area at the tip top of the left side of the Bowl has trees and grass and fantastic city views, if you need a play space destination mid-rehearsal.
There are some things you should bring along. Pack drinks (this is a great spot for sipping your morning coffee!), sun block, hats, and snacks. An umbrella is also good for creating shade. There is some natural shade but the sun moves quickly, and you don’t want to be without protection. Strollers can be parked off to the side, but with loads of stairs, you might want to leave them at home. It’s easier to carry tots with tired little legs or bring a sling for baby.
Bonus: The Hollywood Bowl Museum
From the Beatles to Katy Perry and everyone in between, the Bowl has hosted some serious music legends, which means there’s a lot to learn about it’s historic past. Learn more by swinging through the Hollywood Bowl Museum on your way out. There are lots of cool displays, videos and interactive exhibits. The whole thing takes about 20 minutes to walk through and it’s free. It’s a good detour; plus a chance to cool off in the air conditioning!
The Hollywood Bowl
2301 N. Highland Ave
What do you consider LA’s best kept secret? We’d love to know! Tell us in the comment section below.
—Christina Montoya Fiedler