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.
For the fourth year, ASK Theater Projects presents this festival of works in progress from some of the finest in the theater community. Highlights will include a workshop production of Mariachi Quixote, a musical play by Jose Cruz Gonzalez; performance-art pioneer Rachel Rosenthal's The Unexpurgated Virgin; and Fingered, from San Diego's Steven Cosson. Common Ground also features Down the Rabbit Hole, a four-day writers' lab led by playwright M aria Irene Fornes.
June 26-July 2
Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Pride Celebration
West Hollywood Park, San Vicente Blvd., West Hollywood and surrounding areas; June 27, noon-midnight & June 28, a23 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; (213) 860-0701; $12; $6 seniors, youth & disabled persons; children under 12 free.
The biggest gay-pride event on the West Coast is expected to draw more than 40,000 this year for two days of entertainment, food and sunshine in the name of unity and tolerance. Two separate dance areas will feature disco and country & western music, and many L.A.-area lesbian/gay and AIDS nonprofits will be on hand with information. Don't miss the absolutely fabulous parade on Sunday morning (11 a.m.).
Bugs Bunny on Broadway
Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave.; July 1; 8:30 p.m.; (213) 850-2000; $3-$70, children under 12 half price.
Th-th-th-that's all, folks! All the best from Looney Tunes' repertoire of classics, that is, from "The Rabbit of Seville" to "What's Opera, Doc?" and some surprise new additions. George Daugherty conducts the Philharmonic, accompanying the 'toons as they play on the big screen. A special evening for kids of all ages, with added emotional significance: Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs and all his pals, would have been 90 years old this year.
July 3-9 (Fourth of July Weekend)
Obon Odori Festival
Senshin Buddhist Temple, 1311 W. 37th St.; July 5; (213) 731-4617; free.
Pasadena Buddhist Temple, 1993 Glen Ave., Pasadena; July 5; (626) 798-4781; free.
Also at other Southland Buddhist temples throughout July and August.
Japanese Buddhists date the "Bon-Dance" back to the late Heian period (A.D. 794-1185), and this festival evolved out of the Odori Nembutsu, a popular form of a dance and chant. Various locations will be celebrating Obon Odori during the summer, and the festivities will include bazaars and taiko drumming demonstrations. Events take place from approximately 3 p.m. to 9 or 10 p.m.
Shakespeare Festival L.A.
City Hall, 200 N. Spring St.; July 8-19, 8:30 p.m.; (213) 489-1121; free with canned-food donation; free parking.
Julius Caesar is the production at this year's summer salute to the Bard. A can of food is a mighty reasonable price for an evening of grand drama under the stars, and attendees are encouraged to bring picnic baskets.
Fiesta of Gems
Culver City Veterans Memorial Auditorium, corner of Overland Avenue and Culver Boulevard; July 11, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. & July 12, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; (310) 285-8662; free.
A unique event for science lovers or anyone who just loves bright, shiny baubles, this fiesta will present rock, mineral and fossil exhibits on everything from petrified wood to fine handcrafted jewelry. Also featured are demonstrations of gem carving, wire wrapping and other techniques, plus children's games, grab bags and door prizes.
The Best of American Cinematheque: 1993-1998
Raleigh Studios, 5300 Melrose Ave., Hollywood; Fridays and Saturdays, July 17-August 22, evenings; (213) 466-FILM, ext 2; $7, $4 for American Cinematheque members.
As American Cinematheque prepares for its new digs at the refurbished Egyptian theater in Hollywood this winter, this slate of favorites from the last five years of screenings is the last hurrah at the current Raleigh Studios location. The 'Theque will re-screen past successes from the sublime to the sincerely strange, featuring the works of Sam Fuller, Peter Sellers, Werner Herzog, Dario Argento, Ken Russell, and Sid & Marty Krofft, among others.
Paul McCartney's Standing Stone
Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave.; July 19, 7:30 p.m.; (213) 850-2000; $3-$85.
The L.A. premiere of Sir Paul's 75-minute classical "symphonic poem," a piece of music that has been both lauded and slammed since its debut at the Royal Albert Hall last year (and that's just among Beatles fans), will be a hot ticket. John Mauceri conducts the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and the L.A. Master Chorale.
Caribbean Sea Breeze Festival
Queen Mary Park, 1126 Queens Hwy., Long Beach; July 26, 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m.; (213) 731-2927; $15 donation, $5 for children under 10.
Celebrating the customs and cultures of Belize as well as other Caribbean nations, this event (formerly known as the Belize Caye Festival) includes traditional punta rock music, dancehall reggae and soca performances from Bella Carib, Bamiki Bandula, Junior Reed and many more. Vendors will serve up savory Belizean and Caribbean food as well as tropical drinks. Also featured are arts and crafts, and games and free activities for children.
July 31-August 6
JazzAntiqua Dance & Music Ensemble
John Anson Ford Amphitheater, 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East, Hollywood; August 1; 8 p.m.; (213) 461-3673; $15-$20.
Following last year's acclaimed a performance, JazzAntiqua returns to the Ford for In Shadow and Light, an evening of new works by choreographer Pat Taylor and composer Mark Shelby, inspired by the images of New York-based photographer Roy DeCarava. Guest artists include Le Ballet de Kouman Kele West African Dancers and Drummers and jazz-tap artist Chester Whitmore. Part of the 1998 Summer Nights at the Ford series.
Children's Festival of the Arts
Barnsdall Art Park, 4800 Hollywood Blvd.; August 8, noon-4:30 p.m.; (213) 485-4474; free.
There will be activities to spark children's imaginations at this afternoon of creative fun, featuring lots of hands-on workshops, from mask creation to musical-instrument making. Performances, music and storytelling are included as well as a closing parade. Food vendors are on hand, or you can bring your own picnic.
Taste in San Pedro
Point Fermin Park, 807 W. Paseo del Mar, San Pedro; August 15-16, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; (310) 832-1357; $6, $4 seniors and military, $3 children 4-17, children 3 and under free.
Restaurants from all over the Harbor and South Bay areas will bring the finest food to this scenic location on the cliffs overlooking the ocean. "Taste tickets" are available for $1 each. Kids can get in on the gobbling, too, with hot dogs and snow cones at the children's food court. Also featuring rides, a kiddie train, face painting and more. Beer and wine also available.
Marcus Garvey Day Parade and Festival
The Elegant Manor, 3115 W. Adams Blvd.; August 15-17; 10 a.m.-dusk; (213) 735-9642; free.
Centering on the legacy of Jamaican cultural icon Marcus Garvey, this celebration of unity begins with a parade and includes guest speakers from organizations such as the New Panther Vanguard and the African United Front, music, dance, a black-business expo, a Rasta revival, an African holistic-health fair, a grassroots museum and much more. a
Sunset Junction Street Fair
3600-4400 blocks of Sunset Boulevard, Silver Lake; August 22-23, 10 a.m.-11 p.m.; (213) 661-7771; $3 donation.
L.A.'s hippest hood hosts a prime selection of arts and crafts, ethnic foods, funky street shopping, and good old creaky carnival rides. Everyone who's anyone knows the best part of Sunset Junction is the music: this year's lineup includes legends Phoebe Snow and Martha & the Vandellas, local hero John Doe, rockers Fluorescein and tons more.
Los Angeles African Marketplace and Cultural Faire
Rancho Cienega Park, 5001 Rodeo Road; weekends, August 22-September 7; 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; (213) 734-1164; $3, seniors and children under 10 free.
Acknowledging the cultural influence of peoples of the African diaspora, this very popular event will encompass over 250 hours of entertainment on eight stages. Also included are the Village Gourd & Food Festival, Celebrity Village Games, Homeland Soccer Tournament and more.
August 28-September 3
Ray Charles & Orchestra
Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave.; September 2, 7:30 p.m.; (213) 850-2000; $7.50-$65.
The Legend returns to the Bowl for an evening of rhythm & blues that will surely be tough to beat. With Nnenna Freelon; part of the Lexus Jazz at the Bowl series.
September 4-10 (Labor Day Weekend)
Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave.; September 4-5, 8:30 p.m.; (213) 850-2000; $3-$40.
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A once-in-a-lifetime chance to see legions of Trekkies converge with show-tune fanatics, this year's salute to the best tunes from the Great White Way features the captain himself, Patrick Stewart, along with Lynn Redgrave joining John Mauceri and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. On the program are selections from The King and I, Sweeney Todd and more. A spectacular fireworks display will accompany the finale.
Long Beach Blues Festival
Cal State Long Beach, Palo Verde Avenue at Atherton Street, N. Athletic Field; September 5-7, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; (562) 985-5566; $28, $25 in advance.
Sponsored by KLON-FM, this highly anticipated annual festival could be the finest blues event this side of Chicago. This year's stellar lineup includes performances from Jimmy Vaughan, Taj Mahal, the Blues Brothers Band, John Mayall, Peter Green and a 30th-anniversary jam with alumni of Room Full of Blues. In addition, dozens of vendors will be on hand selling blues-related merchandise, records and memorabilia.