By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
May 22-28 (Memorial Day Weekend)
Renaissance Pleasure Faire
Glen Helen Regional Park, northern junction of the I-15 and I-215 freeways, San Bernardino; through June 21, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; (800) 52-FAIRE; $17.50, $15.50 juniors, seniors, military and students, $7.50 children 5-11. (Discounts available on advance tickets and group purchases.)
For a taste of Old World revelry, the Renaissance Pleasure Faire remains the premier event. Entertainment includes a live, full-contact jousting contest; Shakespeare performances, including Hamlet and The Taming of the Shrew; Queen Elizabeth I's court procession; over 2,500 jugglers, jesters, magicians and Elizabethan musicians; and, of course, plentiful food and drink. For full time-warp effect, don't forget to don your own Renaissance duds.
Bovard Auditorium, USC University Park Campus; May 24, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; (626) 405-9759; $15 and $10 advance, $2 balcony seats available on the day of the festival.
The Music Circle, a nonprofit organization co-founded by legendary musician Ravi Shankar, celebrates its 25th anniversary with an all-day festival of music and dance from South and Southeast Asia. Performers in the three-hour event hail from Bali, Cambodia, India, Java, Thailand and elsewhere. Activities include outdoor arts and crafts for children, and booths will vend food and traditional arts.
UCLA JazzReggae Festival
UCLA Intramural Field, UCLA Campus, Westwood; May 24-25, noon-7 p.m.; (310) 859-4646; free; parking $5 on UCLA campus.
Picnicking encouraged for a full day of jazz on Sunday, followed by a Memorial Day reggae jam. Also included is an international marketplace with plenty of cultural arts and crafts, and food.
May 29-June 4
The Kids' Nature Festival
Temescal Gateway Park, Temescal Canyon (off Sunset Boulevard), Pacific Palisades; May 30, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; a (310) 364-3591; in advance, $6.50, $5.50 children and seniors; at the event, $8.50, $6.50 children and seniors.
This year's celebration of discovery in the great outdoors includes 25 interactive nature booths, where kids can play and learn with activities like "Make a Spider Web" and the "Bubble Pond," as well as have a close encounter with some of the live critters on hand. Mom and Dad can participate in a silent auction, and there will also be costumes, face painting, a nature trail and three live performances by the Sunshine Band.
Cajun and Zydeco Festival
Rainbow Lagoon (behind Long Beach Convention Center), Long Beach; May 30-31, noon-7 p.m.; (562) 427-3713; 50 special seats (with meal and front-row seating) available on a first-come, first-served basis, $50, general $22 (two-day pass $35), $15 seniors and students, $5 children 10-16, children under 10 free.
A two-day affair featuring Cajun and zydeco music, this festival also features dance lessons - including the Cajun two-step, waltz, zydeco, jitterbug, Harlem shuffle and pony step - for anyone anxious to shake a tail feather. Plenty of Cajun and creole cuisine at the ready, along with American deli and barbecue specialties. All children's events, including costume making for a Mardi Gras parade, are free.
Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga; June 7-September 25; (310) 455-3723; $12-$17; $10-$12 seniors, students and Equity members; $5 children 6-12.
The open-air theater returns with its slate of classics in a a rustic hillside terrace setting. This summer's program again offers the Theatricum's award-winning production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, as well as a five-hankie standard Romeo and Juliet, Arthur Miller's witchy epic The Crucible and Peter Shaffer's "comedy of historical proportions," Lettice & Lovage.
Corn Festival (Festival de Maiz)
Arroyo Seco Park, 5568 Via Marisol; June 7, noon-5 p.m.; (213) 259-0861; free.
The importance of corn in the cultures of Latin and Native Americans is the centerpiece of this festival, which features a combination of live entertainment and cultural workshops. Local artists will have work for sale, and there will be plenty of food - including, without a doubt, lots of fresh-roasted corn.
NoHo Theater & Arts Festival
NoHo Arts District, Lankershim Boulevard between Magnolia Ave. and Weddington St., North Hollywood; June 13-14, noon-8 p.m.; (818) 508-5155; free.
The highlight of North Hollywood's two-day summer fest is a treat for theater lovers: more than 100 performances of comedies, musicals, classics and children's shows by more than 50 participating theater companies, all 100 percent gratis. In addition: a Kids' Kourt featuring activities for youngsters, culinary demonstrations at the Taste of NoHo, arts and crafts for sale, and music and dance performances.
20th Annual Playboy Jazz Festival
Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave.; June 13, 2:30-11 p.m. & June 14, 2-10:30 p.m.; (310) 449-4070; $15-$85.
This year's festival marks two decades of the best in jazz entertainment at the Hollywood Bowl, and as usual features an all-star lineup: Al Jarreau, Wynton Marsalis, Poncho Sanchez, Royal Crown Revue, Little Feat, Kenny Garrett, Sheila E. & the E-Train, the L.A. County High School for the Arts Jazz Band and many more. "The Cos" himself (Bill Cosby, natch) is back as host.
Mariachi USA Festival
Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave.; June 20, 6-10:30 p.m. & June 21, 5-9:30 p.m.; (213) 848-7717, (800) 627-4224.
A sellout through most of its nine-year history, this celebration of Mexican culture and tradition features muchos excellent mariachi ensembles - Mariachi 2000, Mariachi Imperial de Mexico, Mariachi Las Alondras and more - plus ballet folklorico, special guest performances and a fireworks finale.
Common Ground Festival '98
UCLA campus; June 23-28; various performance times; (310) 478-9ASK; free, but reservations are required; parking $5.