Oom-pah-pah or cha-cha-cha? Families can take their pick at two events this weekend that celebrate dance – Oktoberfest at Torrance’s Alpine Village and The Music Center’s under-the-stars dance party showcasing the Brazilian samba. For those Los Angelenos willing to take a drive, two events merit the effort: Dana Point’s Toshiba Tall Ships Festival and the Long Beach Lobster Festival. It’s also a weekend of reflection – many locations throughout the Southland remember September 11 and pay tribute to the lives lost and the selfless service of our first responders. We’ve highlighted a handful of events that are appropriate for children and their grown-ups.

Los Angeles

Dance Downtown: Samba!
Families can shake it, move it, and groove it on a giant dance floor under the stars when Dance Downtown at the Music Center showcases the rhythmical dance of Brazil. Two left feet? No worries – beginner dance lessons are part of the fun! Fri., 6:30 pm – 10:00 pm. Free. 5 & up. Event details. 

Angeles Chorale Memorial Concert
Older children can accompany grown-ups for a reflective but soaring concert at downtown LA’s beautiful Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels, which takes place to commemorate the attacks of September 11. The Angeles Chorale, together with the Cathedral’s choir, performs a selection of works chosen by noted choir conductor John Sutton, including Gabriel Faure’s, RequiemSun., 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm. Free. 5 & up. Event details. 

West Side

The Night Show
On Friday, the John Drescher Planetarium kicks off the fall series of its family-friendly Night Show, which re-creates the celestial wonders of the ever-changing night sky in a 50-minute program. The whole family is invited to tour the constellations and ask questions about anything related to astronomy. Fri., 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm. Adults $5, Children (12 & under) $4. 5 & up. Event details.

Beach Cities

Oktoberfest at Alpine Village
Traditional Bavarian fun arrives at Alpine Village with authentic oom pah pah big bands, rich German fare, contests, and cultural activities. Sundays are designated Family Day, featuring kiddie jumpers, sweet treats, games, and much more. Fri-Sat., 6:00 pm – 12:00 am; 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm. Free. 3 & up. Event details.


Northridge 9/11 Tribute
To commemorate the anniversary of 9/11, the Northridge Fashion Center hosts local heroes from the Devonshire Police and Fire departments – families can meet them and thank them for their service. Visitors can post special messages in memory of the historical events or mention good deeds that they have planned for the future; opportunities to write letter to service people are also part of the event.  Sun., 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm. Free. 5 & up. Event details. 

Sherman Oaks 9/11 Memorial
LAFD Station 88 hosts a September 11 candlelight vigil and remembrance ceremony for fallen firefighters. The fire station – the home of Task Force I, an elite squad of Urban Search and Rescue teams that deployed to Ground Zero – is the only certified 9/11 memorial in the state that has artifacts from both the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Sun., 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm. Free. 6 & up. Event details.  


Patriot Family Free Day
The Pasadena Museum of History turns a somber day into a positive experience for children by featuring displays and information tables provided by the Pasadena fire and police departments, photo ops with an impressive hook-and-ladder or vintage police car, games in the garden, ice cream from Baskin Robbins, and crafts inspired by Old Glory. Sun., 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm. Free. 3 & up. Event details.  

Worth the Drive

Long Beach Lobster Festival
Lobster gets the spotlight, but there’s plenty more to do at the Long Beach festival than nosh on seafood: live entertainment, an international food court, arts and crafts booths, souvenir digital photo booths, and – for children – storytellers, magicians, and inflatable bounces. Fri., 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm; Sat., 12:00 pm – 11:00 pm; Sun., 12:00 pm – 10:00 pm. Adults $13m Children (12 & under) Free. All ages. Event Details.  

Festival of Philippine Arts & Culture
The 20th Annual Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture features an array of Filipino and Asian cuisine, thanks to food vendors and popular Los Angeles food trucks. Families can also enjoy cultural and martial arts performances, arts and crafts, traditional Filipino games, and activities such as face painting. Sat-Sun., 10:00 am – 6:00 pm. $7. All ages. Event details.  

Toshiba Tall Ships Festival (pictured)
The Ocean Institute presents its 27th annual Toshiba Tall Ships Festival, the largest annual gathering of tall ships on the West Coast and an event well worth the drive of Los Angelenos. Families can expect living-history encampments, storytelling, ship tours, treasure hunts with costumed pirates, and hands-on classes to discover lost seafaring arts. Fri-Sun., 9:30 am – 9:00 pm. $8-$10. All ages. Event details. 

– Sarah Hilbert