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Southern California is back and better than ever with 9 arts and food experiences in July

An illustration of musical notes, cold beverages, a painting with a paint tube next to it, a hot dog and chopsticks.
Back open for business!
(Micah Fluellen / Los Angeles Times)

The masks are dropping. The music is starting. The sun is shining. July marks L.A.'s first full month post-reopening, and organizers of food and entertainment events have spared no time in getting back to business. Here’s your guide to the coolest (and yummiest) stuff opening and reopening this month in and around Los Angeles.

Museums & exhibits

People look at a sand sculpture at the Citadel Outlets
Spectators at the Citadel Outlets in Commerce look on as sculptors put the final touches on “Landmarks of the World,” the largest sand sculpture in North America.
(Jordan Strauss / AP Images for Citadel Outlets)

‘Landmarks of the World’ sand sculpture at Citadel Outlets
The Citadel is no stranger to a good centerpiece. Around the holidays it has a larger-than-life Christmas tree that rivals the tree in New York’s Rockefeller Center; in a summer emerging from a pandemic, it has the largest sand sculpture in North America.

The “Landmarks of the World” sand sculpture, which features 13 international landmarks including the pyramids in Egypt and Big Ben in London, opened for viewing July 1 at the outlet mall at 100 Citadel Drive in Commerce.

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“People have not been able to travel in over a year, and therefore we wanted to bring the world to people in Southern California,” said Citadel general manager David Blagg.

The outlet worked with Chicago-based Sand Sculpture Co., which spent more than three weeks in June loading 350 tons of sand, shaping it into “wedding cake tiers” and finally shaping the iconic locations. The 20-by-36-foot “mini landmark” is on display through Labor Day; viewers can take a free trip around the world from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

LACMA exhibits: contemporary Chinese art & Cauleen Smith (plus local elementary schoolers)
Angelenos can once again enjoy our dynamic museums, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is the ideal place to jump back in. The museum is featuring two new exhibits this month.

Legacies of Exchange: Chinese Contemporary Art from the Yuz Foundation” features an eclectic selection of work on loan from Shanghai’s Yuz Museum as part of a partnership between the institutions. The exhibit opened July 4, so check out pieces by Chinese artists Ai Weiwei and Yue Minjun in LACMA’s Resnick Pavilion, now through March at 5905 Wilshire Blvd.

Cauleen Smith: Stars in My Pocket and the Rent Is Due” is by the titular artist in collaboration with students at Charles White Elementary School, where the final work will be on display starting Saturday. The mixed media installation includes banners and projections of videos that the kids made in thinking about “a world they wanted to live in” while in the thick of the pandemic. The exhibit will be on view at the school’s 2401 Wilshire Blvd. gallery on Saturdays 1 to 4 p.m. through Sept. 25.

USC Pacific Asia Museum: Nick Dong experiential exhibit
Art that you can walk through and live in is all the rage, especially after 16 months of visiting museums virtually. Taiwanese American artist Nick Dong is changing that with “Divine Immersion” at the USC Pacific Asia Museum. Dong, who marries artistry and engineering in his installation, also melded sentimental jewelry and objects from participants, tying into the spirit of healing and resilience. Through Oct. 3 at 46 N. Los Robles Ave., Pasadena.

Live experiences

Rows of chairs sit around a stage, which is theatrically lighted with blue, white and pink spotlights.
The Bourbon Room Hollywood, built as L.A.'s home for “Rock of Ages,” is using its setup as a restaurant, bar and theater for a new era of live performance.
(The Bourbon Room Hollywood)

Bourbon Room
If you’re itching to see live theater this summer, the Bourbon Room on the second floor of 6356 Hollywood Blvd. might be just the thing. The venue, built as the L.A. home for “Rock of Ages,” will feature a wider range of acts as it reopens, including Broadway star Shoshana Bean, actor and jazz musician Jeff Goldblum and the theatrical performance “Tarantino Live.”

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“Rock of Ages” will return soon, but tickets are available now for the Bourbon Room’s shows through September. The experience they’re going for? Top-notch hospitality, stellar performances and a “love letter to the Sunset Strip,” owner Matt Weaver said.

The DiscOasis at South Coast Botanic Garden
For everyone who picked up roller skating — or gardening — as a quarantine hobby, a pop-up at the South Coast Botanic Garden offers a chance to combine your passions. In its garden “watered by music,” Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Nile Rogers will curate the tunes, food trucks will be on-site and skaters will take to the glittering roller rink at 26300 Crenshaw Blvd. in Palos Verdes Peninsula. The DiscOasis takes place July 16 through Labor Day weekend; tickets ($35-$59 depending on the day and time) are available online.

Hollywood Bowl
Los Angeles just isn’t the same without the Hollywood Bowl, which awoke from its 2020 slumber to host frontline workers and then the public with a Fourth of July weekend run by Kool & the Gang. The month promises both Christina Aguilera (July 16 and 17) and Cynthia Erivo (July 30) with the L.A. Philharmonic, Kamasi Washington as part of KCRW’s World Festival (July 18) and “The Princess Bride” in concert (July 31). The rest of the season is jam-packed too, with tickets available online and at the box office, 2301 N. Highland Ave. You can even get vaccinated at the Bowl!

Food & festivals

A crowd at an open-air market, some with food in hand. Tents, lights and palm trees dot the background.
A 2017 626 Night Market crowd in Arcadia enjoys an evening of food and festivities. The market returns this year after a 2020 closure.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

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626 Night Market
The 626 Night Market isn’t just for the 626 anymore: in addition to the flagship Santa Anita Park location (285 W. Huntington Drive, Arcadia), the food, arts and entertainment open-air market also has pop-ups at the OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa and the Alameda County Fairgrounds in the Bay Area. “Inspired by the famous open-air nighttime bazaars of Asia,” the 626 Night Market chose “Coming Home” for its 2021 theme in celebration of the pandemic’s imminent end and the return of the beloved event. If you want to head to Arcadia for a 250-plus vendor spread of food and merchandise, you’ll need to snag a $5 advance entrance ticket, available for the July 9-11 and 16-18 markets (Aug. 27-29 and Sept. 3-5 will go on sale at a later date).

Smorgasburg L.A.
We learned the importance of shopping and eating local this last year and half, and the options at Smorgasburg L.A. are seemingly endless. Peruse fare from sushi to Indian to plant-based, all downtown at Row DTLA (777 S. Alameda St.). The food festival reopened July 4 and is serving up almost anything you can imagine on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It’s free, with parking in the on-site garage.

Sawdust Festival
The dream is an outdoor festival that beats the heat, and it’s a reality with a quick trip to the cooler ocean air of Orange County. The Sawdust Festival at 935 Laguna Canyon Road in Laguna Beach is open daily through Labor Day weekend. Admission tickets are $10 for adults.


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