The Pageant of the Masters is a one-of-a-kind performance that only happens in Laguna Beach, California. You can catch these shows every night under the stars during the town’s eight-week art festival.
This unique spectacle is celebrating its 90th year in 2023. You won’t want to miss out on a presentation unlike anything you’ve seen before.
Today, we’re exploring this unusual production and what makes it so special.
Let’s get into it!
The Details of Pageant of the Masters
The Pageant of the Masters is one of the most unique cultural events in Southern California, if not the world. Each night during the Festival of Arts show, 90-minute “living pictures” are put on by participants who dress in costume and recreate famous works of art.
A narrator guides the performance while an orchestra and vocalists play period-appropriate music.
In 1933, Lolita Perine organized the precursor to the modern event. She recruited local volunteers to serve as background actors in a massive frame while she recreated a piece from the past.
The following year, it became a staple of the show under the guidance of Roy Ropp.
The 90th Pageant of the Masters takes place from July 5 to September 1, 2023. This year’s theme is Art Colony: In the Company of Artists. It’s a nod to Laguna Beach’s art colony that formed in the early 1900s.
In contrast to the cliche image of the solitary artist, this group lived and worked together, supporting one another in their creative endeavors.
Where Is Pageant of the Masters Held?
The idyllic city of Laguna Beach is perched above the shores of Orange County. This high-end community has about 23,000 permanent residents, but nearly six million visitors flock here yearly for the stunning scenery and engaging cultural events.
Laguna Beach is a haven for nature lovers in congested Southern California. The city has preserved 20,000 acres of rugged wilderness where locals and visitors can hike and bike.
The Pacific beachfront also features natural tidepools where you can observe sea creatures in their natural habitat.
Plus, the cool waters are perfect for surfing, kayaking, and other water sports.
You’ll find many top-notch restaurants, breweries, and shops throughout town. In addition, the city is highly walkable and pedestrian-friendly, so once you find a parking spot, you can explore on foot.
About the Festival of Arts Show
The Festival of Arts in Laguna Beach isn’t your typical art show. For eight weeks, painters, photographers, glass-blowers, ceramic artists, and more display their works to eager buyers and art enthusiasts.
Special events also take place throughout the show. You can attend cooking demonstrations or wine and chocolate pairings or let your kids make their own crafts. In addition, there’s live music ranging from jazz and country to Motown and funk.
Know Before You Go: Visit the Festival of Arts website to purchase tickets to the Pageant of the Masters or concert series.
Other Fun Things To Do Around Laguna Beach
While there’s plenty of entertainment at the Festival of Arts Show, it’s far from the only thing to do in Laguna Beach. Here are a few great ways to explore the city and its beautiful environment.
Whale Watching Tours
Southern California is an ideal location for year-round whale watching. When the art festival takes place in late summer, you can see blue, fin, and humpback whales, but you’ll need to visit in the winter or spring to see gray whales.
You can see many of these creatures from the beach or nearby Newport Pier. However, whale-watching cruises depart daily to get you up close and personal with these giant mammals.
Visit Heisler Park
Perched above the Laguna Beach shoreline is the city’s beloved Heisler Park. Walking trails meander through lush gardens where you can enjoy stunning views of the Pacific or the many sculptures throughout the green space. Or you can head to the beach and check out what’s living in the many tidepools.
Heisler Park is a popular wedding venue with picnic tables, a gazebo, and barbeque grills. There’s even a lawn bowling green to get your blood pumping.
Check Out Free Public Art
Heisler Park isn’t the only place to enjoy public art. In fact, Laguna Beach celebrates creativity like nowhere else in the world. More than 100 unique works dot the town and take many forms, such as benches, fountains, and gates.
Check out the entrance to Bluebird Park or the Canyon Chess and Checkers game table at Main Beach. You’re bound to be inspired by what you find.
Best Places To Stay Around Laguna Beach
You’ll want more than one day to enjoy everything Laguna Beach has to offer. So here are a few of our favorite places to crash after all that sightseeing.
Crystal Cove State Park
Whether you’re looking for asphalt pads with full hookups or primitive sites to overnight, Crystal Cove State Park has it. They have 27 hookup sites that hold rigs up to 38 feet long, while the other 30 “low-impact” spots can fit RVs up to 25 feet as well as tents.
Nearly every site has expansive views of the ocean. Recreational trails lead down the cliffs to the beach, where you can swim, surf, or fish. This park fills up quickly, so be sure to make reservations.
The Tides Laguna Beach
The Tides is downtown, just three blocks from Main Beach. This mom-and-pop motel will make you feel right at home. About half of the 21 rooms have kitchenettes, and some are pet-friendly.
A saltwater pool, outdoor fireplace, gas grills, and free WiFi are available to all guests. You’ll also find all the standard amenities you expect from a hotel, such as air conditioning and flatscreen TVs.
Seaside Laguna Inn & Suites
For a boutique hotel experience, you’ll want to check out Seaside Laguna Inn & Suites. Here, comfort and luxury go hand in hand. It’s only steps away from the beach and offers incredible sunset views.
The property features lots of greenery and local artwork. Some units can accommodate up to six people and include kitchenettes. Plus, there’s complimentary breakfast every morning.
Is a Road Trip to the Pageant of the Masters Worth It?
The Pageant of the Masters is one of Laguna Beach’s premier annual events. It requires thousands of work hours from staff and volunteers, and the effort pays off. No matter the theme, it’s a show you aren’t likely to forget!
Stop by the Festival of Arts Show if you find yourself in Laguna Beach in July or August. However, we think this seaside town is worth a visit any time of year.
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