Families get the unique opportunity this weekend to add to their “virtual passports” and immerse themselves in the vibrant cultures of Ecuador and Sri Lanka, thanks to two festivals taking place in Los Angeles and Santa Monica. Both offer parades with grand fanfare and a lively procession of performers – a sure fire hit with children. The curtain rises on four great theater productions this weekend: We’ve got big hair on tap, thanks to a little Broadway Hairspray at the Hollywood Bowl; Seussical the Musical and Aladdin Jr. take place in our beach communities; and an interactive production of The Velveteen Rabbit is your perfect excuse to head to the hills of Topanga Canyon.

Los Angeles

Ecuadorian Parade and Festival
Indulge the kids with a little pomp and fanfare on Sunday with the Ecuadorian Festival’s lively parade, which kicks off the day-long event and showcases car clubs, drill teams, dance groups, beauty queens, and community representatives. Authentic foods, arts and crafts, musical entertainment, and carnival games are also on tap. Sun., 11:30 am – 6:00 pm. Free. All ages. Event details.

Hairspray at the Hollywood Bowl
The plot of Hairspray may be a tad above the youngest audience members, but that won’t stop them from loving the rollicking, fully staged production and its big hair, soaring voices, doo-wop tunes, and amazing message of perseverance and acceptance. Fri – Sat, 8:30 pm; Sun 7:30 pm. $16-$168. Ages 6 & up. Event details.


Garden Concerts for Kids
The Getty’s free, outdoor Garden Concerts for Kids series kicks off with a visit from Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band, one of the brightest new artists on the kids music scene. Grown-ups and little ones alike will love the Silver Lake trio for their fresh rockabilly, retro tunes, and indie goodness. Sat – Sun., 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm. Free. All ages. Event details.

The Velveteen Rabbit
The creative talents of The Creative PlayGround and the peaceful shade oaks of the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum combine for a fabulous outdoor theater experience for children. The Velveteen Rabbit – an abridged, adapted version, that is – comes alive for young audience members thanks to interactive improvisation. Kids get to participate in the production as both guests and “gifts” at the birthday party of the story’s protagonist. Sat., 11:00 am – 12:00 pm. $8. Ages 5 & up. Event details.

Sri Lanka Day 2011
The Third Street Promenade comes alive with vibrant Sri Lankan culture during this annual event. Kids will especially love the Pagent of Lanka, or “Perahera,” which re-creates an ancient parade that occurs annually in Sri Lanka and features authentic dancers, drummers, masked performers, flag bearers, and a theater elephant.  Traditional foods are plentiful, and stage performers include cultural dancers and drummers. Sat., 10:00 am – 10:00 pm. Free. All ages. Event details.

Beach Cities

Seussical the Musical
It’s closing weekend of Seussical the Musical at Huntington Beach Playhouse, and we encourage families to hop aboard their Skeegle-Mobiles or Jet-Propelled Flying Devices and catch one of the last three performances of this sweet, endearing production. Kids will recognize The Cat in the Hat, The Grinch, Horton the Elephant, and many other silly characters from their favorite books. Thu – Sat 8:00 pm; Sun 2:00 pm. $18-$20. 3 & up. Event details.

Disney’s Aladdin, Jr.
A magic carpet ride is in store for children who attend the stage musical Aladdin, Jr., which is adapted from the beloved Disney animated film and shortened in length so even the very young can understand the plot. Aladdin, Jasmine, Jafar, Iago, and the wise-cracking blue Genie are all on hand to help tell the tale, and little ones can sing along to favorite tunes like “A Whole New World” and “Friend Like Me.” Aug 5 – Aug 15., showtimes at 2:00 pm and 7:30 pm. $16-$23. Ages 4 & up. Event details.


Vesta Fiesta
Families can meet real NASA scientists and participate in a whole host of science activities, all in celebration of NASA’s groundbreaking Dawn Mission and its successful capture into orbit around the asteroid Vesta. Activities include watching scientist demonstrations, making asteroid models, touching real asteroids, and much more. Sat., 1:00 pm – 6:30 pm. Free. Ages 5 & up. Event details.

Friendship Day at Kidspace
Friends of all kinds are celebrated at Kidspace on Sunday when children can make friendship paintings and bracelets, add to Kidspace’s “friendship fish” mural, and join author Brianne Drouhard for a story reading and book signing of her book Billie the Unicorn at 12:00 pm. Sun., 10:00 am – 5:00 pm. Free with museum admission. Ages 2-10. Event details.

Worth the Drive

Kids Fishing Rodeo
Experts are on hand to share tips and tricks with young anglers during the 58th Annual Kids Fishing Rodeo in Long Beach. The event features free bait and instruction, but participants need to bring their own rods and reels. Prizes are awarded in many categories and everyone goes home a winner! Fri., 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm. Free. Ages 16 & under. Event details.

– Sarah Hilbert