For Summer Fun, See 'The Pageant of the Masters'

And the Other Laguna Beach Art Shows

One of the highlights of any trip to Southern California is to visit the charming beach town and artist's community of Laguna Beach. No matter what time of year you visit, you can stroll through more than 100 art galleries, or visit the art museum located just north of Main Beach in Laguna Beach. However, if you decide to go to Laguna Beach in the summer, you are in for a really special treat ... the Laguna Beach Summer Arts Festivals. These festivals are in operation every summer during the months of July and August.

The highlight of the summer, however, is the Pageant of the Masters in which live people step into frames and turn themselves into living works of art.  Learn more about it and the other summer art festivals below:

Pageant of the MastersCredit: Photo taken by author

The Festival of the Arts

The premier arts festival in Laguna Beach is the Festival of the Arts. It is Orange County's oldest art show and displays the work of approximately 145 artists from Orange County every summer. It is a highly selective juried art show. While the organizers focus on the work of local Orange County artists, they sometimes also display the work of other accomplished artists, as well. For example, the actress, Jane Seymour, had her art features there one recent summer. While you stroll around the displays, looking at the wonderful paintings, drawings, sculptures, ceramics and jewelry, you often will have the chance to chat with the artists who created these incredible creations, or you can purchase something for your own collection. You can also have dinner or a glass of wine, and listen to live music during your visit. Tickets are available at the door.

As you read about the art festivals, you may want more information about where to go and what to do during your visit to Laguna Beach.  If so, be sure to use the Amazon link below to pick up a handy guide book:

Quick link to Amazon's Laguna Beach guide books.

Pageant of the Masters

One of the most unique features of The Festival of the Arts is the annual Pageant of the Masters. This live presentation is put on every summer by the enthusiastic residents of Laguna Beach. Local members of the community volunteer to be painted, wigged and dressed to match the characters in famous works of art. Then, they step into a framed backdrop and reproduce the painting or sculpture live on the stage. The volunteers stand totally still for two minutes. Using special lighting and well-painted backgrounds, the entire effect is unbelievable. When the curtains open, many newcomers in the audience have trouble believing that those are actually real people, and not simply part of the painted backdrop. The show's producers have recreated everything from DaVinci's "The Last Supper" to marbleized Greek Gods and even automobile hood ornaments. The experience is certainly one to be remembered!

Most people who plan to go see the Pageant of the Masters purchase their tickets months in advance. Don't be discouraged, however, if you have not had the opportunity to buy your tickets in advance. There is a secret way to get last minute tickets that is popular with many local people. If you show up at the ticket window at about 6:00 a.m. on the morning of the show you hope to see, you can stand in line and will frequently be able to buy two tickets to that evening's performance when the ticket window opens at 9:00 a.m. These are tickets that have been turned back in, or that are not needed by the family members of the performers. Sometimes it is possible to get tickets in the front row, or very close to the front. Even if you don't get front row seats, you can enjoy the show from anywhere in this small open air auditorium.

There are also a few things you will want to bring with you when you attend a showing of the Pageant of the Masters: warm clothes or a blanket, a cushion to sit on, and binoculars. The air gets very chilly at night in Southern California, once the sun goes down. If you forget to bring your own cushions and binoculars, before the show begins you can rent them just outside the amphitheater. You will especially enjoy having binoculars so you can look at the live works of art up close!

The Sawdust Art Festival

Across the street and just up the road from the Festival of the Arts is the Sawdust Art Festival. In a charming facility that is surrounded by eucalyptus trees, the Sawdust Art Festival highlights works of art that have been produced by local artists from Laguna Beach. Visitors can also enjoy live entertainment and art demonstrations. It's a delightful way to discover some of the lesser known Laguna Beach artists, many of whom produce works of art that are well worth collecting. Another feature of the Sawdust Art Festival is that it is not only open during the summer, but also for a few weeks before Christmas each year. It is a wonderful place to find some truly unique holiday gifts. Tickets are available at the door.


Next door to the Sawdust Art Festival, and between it and the Festival of the Arts, is Art-A-Fair. It highlights a variety of art types, including paintings, drawings, photos, sculpture, ceramics, jewelry and wood carvings. While you explore these fun artistic creations, you can also enjoy live entertainment and art demonstrations on the weekends. Tickets are available at the door.

Buy a Triple Passport

If you think you will want to visit all three of these art festivals, you may want to purchase the Triple Passport. It provides you with tickets to all three shows at a significant discount. (It does not including the Pageant of the Masters live show.) If you want to visit all of these festivals, the Triple Passport is the most affordable way to do it. The three festivals are within an easy walk of each other, so you can enjoy them all on the same day.  The Laguna Beach Passport to the Arts can be ordered by calling (949) 497-0521 or online at

While you are in the Laguna Beach area, you may want to read some of these articles about other local activities:

Top 10 Things To Do In Laguna Beach

Top 10 Things To Do In Newport Beach California

Why We Love the Beach House Restaurant Laguna Beach

Come Explore the California Tidepools

Laguna Beach Kayak Adventures

Laguna Beach Surfing

Laguna Beach Paddleboard Adventures

Enjoying Your Laguna Beach Vacation

Take a Ferry to Catalina Island

Learn Everything You Need to Know about Laguna Beach

Written by a local resident

Laguna Beach's Best: All the Food, Drink, Places and Events You Want to Know in Laguna Beach . . . From a Resident's Perspective
Amazon Price: Buy Now
(price as of Jun 12, 2015)
If you plan to come to Laguna Beach on a vacation, it is helpful to bring along a handy guide.