What’s on in Los Angeles in Autumn

By Kirsty Martin

Photography by Xavier Arnau / Getty Images

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September 2017

If summer’s demise has left you feeling a little flat, fear not – autumn in Los Angeles is anything but dull. Halloween, Thanksgiving and the build-up to Christmas mean family-friendly festivities galore.

LA County Fair

For families, the LA County Fair is worth the half-hour drive from Anaheim. Live music, fairground rides, a zoo, ice skating… The list of attractions goes on and on. Junior family members can experience a thrilling encounter with T-Rex at Jurassic Planet, or meet monkey Mojo and all manner of exotic fauna at Mojo’s Wild and Crazy Lagoon. Meanwhile, adults can browse the shopping promenade’s abundant stalls and pick up expert wine tasting tips. By evening, catch a concert featuring the legendary likes of Patti Labelle.

When? From 1 to 24 September 

Where? The Fairplex, 1101 W McKinley Ave, Pomona 

Getting there: It takes 28 minutes by car to travel the 22.9 miles from Anaheim to The Fairplex, Pomona. Or take the Metrolink train to Pomona, picking up the Line 197 bus from the station directly to The Fairplex. 

Where to stay: Anaheim Marriott Suites is just right for families, with its heated outdoor pool and daily shuttle service to and from Disneyland.

Pick up top chef tips for cooking a mouth-watering medley of fish dishes – from salty oysters and tangy mussels, to super-fresh sushi

Beachfront Cinema

Keep the spirit of summer alive with a spot of al fresco film-watching on the beach. Pack a picnic, snuggle up on a jumbo-sized beanbag and settle down to view the movie of your choice. September’s line-up features Disney delight Moana, multi-Oscar-winning smash La La Land and ‘80s cult classic Top Gun. If you forget your picnic, fret not – food vendors and a beach bar will keep you in nibbles and tipples. So, all you need to worry about is enjoying the film – and the breathtaking sunset.

When? 2 September to 21 October 

Where? Huntington State Beach 

Getting there: If travelling by car, the beach is west of the intersection of Magnolia Avenue & Hwy 1 (Pacific Coast Highway), in the City of Huntington Beach. 

Where to stay: The stylish and luxurious Paséa Hotel & Spa is close to Huntington State Beach and only minutes from Huntington Beach Pier. If you’re a film buff with an affinity for the arts, you might care to visit the nearby Huntington Beach Art Center.

  • There are big treats in store at the LA County Fair. ©LA County Fair.

    LA County Fair

    Live music, fairground rides, a zoo and more make the LA County Fair an unforgettable family day out.

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  • Huntington Beach Pier. ©joebelanger

    Film buffs on the beach

    Relax and enjoy a movie in the scenic setting of Huntington Beach.

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  • Electro-rock giants New Order in action ©Mike Burnell.

    New Order in concert

    Catch the mighty New Order supported by Goldfrapp, live at the Hollywood Bowl.

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New Order at the Hollywood Bowl

It won’t be a Blue Monday when electro-rock titans New Order take to the stage of the iconic Hollywood Bowl. It’s fair to say that the aforementioned single – incidentally the UK’s best-selling 12-inch of all time - is what really launched the band’s career; a career that now spans three decades and has produced 10 albums. For this gig, the group have the support of the excellent and ever-evolving electro duo Goldfrapp – guaranteeing a night to remember. 

When? Monday 18 September 

Where? Hollywood Bowl 

Getting there: Parking at the Hollywood Bowl is fairly limited, so we advise choosing one of the Park & Ride options or taking advantage of the Bowl Shuttle service. Take the Metro to Hollywood/Highland or Union station, and pick up the shuttle from there. 

Where to stay: Hollywood boutique hotel The Garland offers the perfect blend of laid-back sophistication and retro styling. Enjoy a pre-concert meal in the casual-but-cool setting of The Front Yard. Or relax with a post-gig beer at the Lobby Bar.

OFF THE HOOK Seafood Festival

Explore the epicurean delights of the sea at the OFF THE HOOK Seafood Festival. Sample, and pick up top chef tips for cooking, a mouth-watering medley of fish dishes – from salty oysters and tangy mussels, to super-fresh sushi. Sip a curated cocktail and enjoy a little live music in the scenic setting of iconic Santa Monica Pier. Chefs from some of the city’s finest seafood establishments will be whipping up some delectable dishes – and teaching you how to make your own. 

When? Saturday 14 October 

Where? Santa Monica Pier 

Getting there: If travelling by car or on foot, take the ramp at the intersection of Ocean and Colorado. There is parking on the Pier deck, or in two lower car parks accessible via Appian Way. 

Where to stay: It doesn’t get more convenient than the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. As the name would suggest, it’s right on the beach and mere steps away from the Pier. If you haven’t exhausted your appetite for great seafood at the Festival, the locally-sourced fare at the Ocean & Vine restaurant will do it.

  • Irresistible delights at the OFF THE HOOK Seafood Festival. ©OFF THE HOOK Seafood Festival.

    OFF THE HOOK food

    Seafoodies will be in heaven at the OFF THE HOOK Seafood Festival.

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  • Family-friendly frights at the Anaheim Fall Festival. ©Anaheim Fall Festival.

    Anaheim Fall Festival fun

    Costume contests, carnival games and the jack o’ lantern-lit parade are all part of this historic Halloween event.

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  • Dressed the part at Stan Lee’s Comic Con. Photo courtesy of Stan Lee's L.A Comic Con.

    LA Comic Con

    Turning up in costume is practically mandatory at Los Angeles Comic Con.

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Los Angeles Comic Con

Pretty much the only place where you’ll look out of place not in costume - Stan Lee’s LA Comic Con is a mecca for sci-fi fans and comic book lovers. This annual event unites the latest and greatest in the aforementioned genres, as well as fantasy, horror and all things pop culture-related. The legendary Stan Lee will of course be in attendance, joined by a host of other special guests including fellow Marvel magnate Marc Silvestri and celebrated anime artist Camilla D’Errico. 

When? 27 to 29 October 

Where? LA Convention Center, 1201 South Figueroa Street 

Getting there: The LA Convention Center is in the heart of Downton, at the intersection of the Santa Monica Freeway (10) and the Harbor Freeway (110). There are multiple, signposted parking options if driving. Or alight at Pico station if travelling by Metro rail. 

Where to stay: In the city’s lively cultural district and close to the LA Convention Center, the Millennium Biltmore hotel harks back to the Hollywood Golden Age. All marble columns, frescoes and fountains, this historic address definitely has the wow factor. Other fantastic entertainment venues close by include LA Live and the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Anaheim Fall Festival & Halloween Parade

As traditional as Halloween celebrations get – the Anaheim Fall Festival is a family-friendly feast of pumpkin patches, costume contests, carnival games and more. Fantastic fun for little ones and free for all, this long-running festival is a wonderful way to spend the day with your family. Be sure to stick around in the evening for the renowned Halloween Parade – a jack-o’-lantern-lit procession of witches, ghosts and ghouls that has become a Southern Californian institution.

When? Saturday 28 October 

Where? The parade begins at 6pm at Broadway & West St., traveling through the downtown area via Center Street Promenade and ending at The Packing House on Anaheim Blvd. 

Getting there: Parking is available in the Center Street parking structure. 

Where to stay: Conveniently located near Anaheim, the Hyatt Regency Orange County boasts a full schedule of family activities, a children’s Game Zone, two outdoor pools and shuttle service to Disneyland Resort.

  • James McAvoy chats to reporters at AFI Fest 2016. ©WENN Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo.

    Film Fest

    Snap the stars on the red carpet when the AFI film festival comes to Tinseltown.

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  • Runners in the Thanksgiving Turkey Trot. ©Turkey trot.

    Hot to trot

    The Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot sees runners in amusing attire pounding the streets of LA.

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  • Giant floats at the annual Hollywood Christmas Parade. ©The Photo Access / Alamy Stock Photo.

    Here comes Santa Claus

    The annual Hollywood Christmas Parade is a star-studded spectacular.

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When in Hollywood…

What could be more fitting while in Tinseltown than to attend a film premiere? Each year, the American Film Institute toasts the cream of international cinema at AFI FEST – the only festival of its kind that is free to the public. Which means that as well as the chance to glimpse your favourite stars on the red carpet, there is a host of opportunities to view exciting new work (for free) from both new and established contemporary cinematic talent. 

When? 9 to 16 November 

Where? At various theatres, on Hollywood Blvd. 

Getting there: If you dare to brave the heavy traffic around Hollywood Boulevard, then parking is available at Hollywood & Highland Parking. The nearest Metro stop is Hollywood/Vine station.

Where to stay: Ideally situated right on Hollywood Boulevard, The Hollywood Roosevelt is something of a star in its own right, having hosted a string of silver screen icons over the years, as well as appearing in multiple movies.

Turkey trotting time

Gobble gobble, it’s time to wobble… Or run, as the case may be. A great Thanksgiving Day tradition – the Los Angeles Turkey Trot sees hundreds of runners sporting comical costumes (turkey-themed, naturally) pound the historic streets of Downtown LA. Before you tackle your Thanksgiving lunch, why not cheer on the jolly ‘trotters’ as they make their way along 5k and 10k race routes from City Hall. There is even a 1k ‘Widdle Wobble’ for young trotters – adorable. 

When: Thursday 23 November 

Where: Starts at City Hall, 200 North Spring St. 

Getting there: Although limited street parking (free) will be available, many car parks will be closed for Thanksgiving. To avoid parking headaches and the event road closures however, we recommend taking the Metro Red or Purple Line to Civic Center station. 

Where to stay: Within a half-mile walking distance from the Civic Center, the Miyako Hotel offers a taste of Japan in the heart of LA. Traditional Japanese culture suffuses this elegant property, right down to its signature sushi bar. Little Tokyo station is also nearby, if you feel like hopping on the Metro to the Civic Center.

Hollywood Christmas Parade

You can’t be in Los Angeles in November without attending the annual Hollywood Christmas Parade. This event is as much a part of the Tinseltown fabric as The Oscars, and its famous red carpet procession is televised nationally every December. Colossal balloons, glittering floats, marching bands and of course, Santa Claus, are all part of this incredible spectacle. The stars also turn out in abundance, so have your camera ready… 

When? Sunday 26 November 

Where? Hollywood Blvd. & Orange Drive 

Getting there: Parking is available at Hollywood & Highland Parking. Or avoid the scrum for spaces by taking the nearest Metro Red Line to Hollywood/Vine. 

Where to stay: Boasting a prime location on the corner of Hollywood & Highland, the Loews Hollywood Hotel has something for everyone. The pièce de résistance of this chic luxury hotel is its rooftop pool with complimentary cabanas – the perfect place to unwind after the excitement of the parade.