Still a kid at heart? Our Los Angeles weekly event lineup features a few free events and two Children’s Festivals that will allow you to embrace the playful spirit of youth and get the giggles with your kids. And what better way to say farewell to the lion of April and hello to the fair lamb of May, then a lively jig around a real maypole? See the Shipley Nature Center listing for details. The Festival of Books is a sure way to satisfy your own craving for mental stimulation, while also inspiring and entertaining your little ones. Last, take a page out of history by visiting the Wild West Days at the Arboretum or the Cowboy Festival in Santa Clarita – either one provides old-fashioned fun for city-slickers and their lil’ buckaroos. Happy trails!
LA Times Festival of Books
Time to hit the books at USC. This celebration of the written word provides a place for the public to meet some of the nation’s best authors and illustrators of every genre, hear readings, and even take workshops (for an additional cost). There will be nearly 300 exhibitor booths representing booksellers, publishers, and cultural organizations. Don’t miss booth #550, where the Mother Company will be spotlighting Ruby, of Ruby’s Studio: The Feelings Show. She will be on-hand from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm on Saturday, and 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm on Sunday, for story time, arts and crafts, and plentiful giveaways. The Target Children’s stage will feature ongoing readings by a star-studded cast of authors and illustrators of your children’s favorite books. Sat. 10:00 am – 6:00 pm and Sun. 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, Los Angeles, free. Event Details.
Wild West Days
Kick up your cowboy (and cowgirl) boots at the Barn Dance, watch the trick roping show, take a real carriage ride, and then cool your heels and set awhile at the BBQ and Root Beer Saloon. Live music includes everything from traditional mountain tunes, to hillbilly gospel, to bluegrass. The historic Coach Barn, Santa Anita Train Depot, and elegant Queen Anne Cottage will be open both days, and you can take a tour of the Rose Garden on Saturday at 10:00 am, and on Sunday at 1:00 pm. Victorian townsfolk will be hawking their wares such as parasols, books, and teacups. Sat. and Sun. 10:00 am – 4:00 pm, Arcadia, free with Arboretum admission ($8 adults, $3 children 5-12, children under 5 are free). Event Details.
Festival of Childhood
Let’s face it – our world revolves around our kids so why not head to a festival that does, too? Echo Parenting and Education organizes this open-air, street-festival in conjunction with the Day of the Child and National Child Abuse Prevention. Their aim is to fill an entire city block with “music, laughter, and color.” Entertainment includes: the “Free to Be Me” drum circle, Aztec dancing, children’s performances, a climbing wall, the Bubble Bonanza, and much more. Get your faces painted, be silly, and feel like a kid again! Sat. 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm, Echo Park, free. Event Details.
Gwendolyn and the Goodtime Gang
Tiny rockers will rejoice at this music show that was named “Best Kiddie Band” in Los Angeles Magazine’s “Best Of LA” guide. The seven-piece band incorporates colorful costumes, dance, and interactive play to get the audience movin’ and groovin’ along to the beats. For a special treat, reserve your spaces early for a free workshop with Gwendolyn before the show, where she will share her passion for music. Parents will enjoy a day at the lovely and venerable venue, the Geffen Playhouse. Sat. 11:00 am, Los Angeles, $15 adults, $10 children. Event Details.
Wrangle up your passel of buckaroos and ride on over to the historic Melody Ranch for a rootin’-tootin’ good time, way out west. The location began as Gene Autry’s private ranch and later became a movie set for famous westerns like The Lone Ranger. It seems as if the cowboys never left, as they are ready to entertain your family with living history programs, live country music on four stages, a Mercantile Row to shop on Main Street, cowboy poetry, and so much more. Corner your kids at the Children’s Corral where they can pan for gold, spin wool, and hear stories by their favorite authors. The delectable, dutch-oven peach cobbler is not to be missed. Fri., Sat. and Sun. 10:00 am – 6:00 pm, Santa Clarita, $20 adults, $10 children under 12, children under 3 are free. Event Details.
Chili Cookoff and Classic Car Show
Spice things up! Sanctioned by the International Chili Society, there will be over 75 different versions of the hearty fare to taste, so come hungry. Mild recipes are available for children, as well as a host of typical festival food. While the kiddos nibble on cotton candy, parents can enjoy the eye-candy of over 200 classic and specialty cars rolled out by collectors and celebrities alike. There will also be a Miss Chili Pageant, petting zoo, kid’s play area, and live music from the Spare Parts band. Nothin’ says downhome fun like rock n’ roll, chili, and cars. Sun. 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, Thousand Oaks, adults $10, kids under 12 are free. Event Details.
International Children’s Festival at the Aquarium of the Pacific
The only thing that could make the aquarium even more awesome to a kid is…more kids! This event celebrates children from all over the globe and brings them together through song, dance, and play. Children’s performances will encompass everything from African drums, to Cambodian traditional dance, and martial arts demonstrations. Adding further color are educational programs, a children’s parade, face-painting, and crafts. Sat. and Sun. 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, Long Beach, free with general Aquarium admission ($24.95 adults, $12.95 children 3-11, children under 3 are free). Event Details.
Shipley Nature Center Spring Festival
Finally, a place to take a whirl around a maypole! Throw your arms out and embrace spring in all its natural glory at the Shipley Nature Center. This 18-acre sanctuary boasts hiking trails that weave through varying habitats, so wear comfy clothing and explore. Like what you see? Take home some landscaping at the Native Plant Sale, a part of the Nature Fair. There will be live entertainment, crafts, food, and animal demonstrations, in addition to the aforementioned maypole dancing. Huzzah! Sat. 9:00 am – 2:00 pm, Huntington Beach, free. Event Details.