Los Angeles is quite the destination this November because of all the Thanksgiving turkey and the faint sound of Mariah Carey thawing out for Christmas. However, there’s also a lot for the eyes to see and the ears to hear.
Incredible events are happening all over the city, some of them surreal, and others so real — Lord, I crack myself up — that you’re picking up life lessons. Some of these events happen on the same day, so you’ll have to make the tough decisions yourself. But if you need some help finding where to go in LA in November 2021, here are a few ideas:
1. Head In The Clouds at Rose Bowl
If Super Bowl halftime performances have taught me anything, it’s that football stadiums make for great music performances. 88rising, a pan-Asian music and media group, apparently agrees because they're taking over the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Head In The Clouds is 88rising’s music festival happening at the Rose Bowl on the 6th and 7th of November, 2021. I particularly love that there will be a 626 Night Market food festival on the side. It’s an experience even for your tastebuds. Tickets are still on sale online.
2. Obama Portraits Tour at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. is home to two portraits of the Obamas, one of Barrack and the other of Michelle. Barrack’s portrait is by Kehinde Wiley, a queer black man, so the artistic splendour is well...a given. When don’t we ever make great art? Michelle’s portrait is by a black woman named Amy Sherald. Again, black people! And woman is an incredible shade. Both portraits are scheduled for a five-city tour, and Los Angeles is one of the five. From the 7th of November, 2021 till the 2nd of January, 2022, the portraits will be at LACMA. Get your tickets on the LACMA website.
3. AFI FEST at TCL Chinese Theatre
AFI FEST is an annual film festival with screenings for all — whether you’re the type to see every blockbuster as soon as they’re released or you’re the type who prefers Hidden Gems: Movie Edition (that is, indie movies and the likes that are more niche). Virtual and in-person screenings/events will take place, the latter of which will happen at TCL Chinese Theatre, the most iconic movie palace in the world — according to their website where you can also get your passes. You can visit from the 10th of November, 2021 to the 14th of November, 2021.
4. Vulture Fest at Hollywood Roosevelt
Vulture Fest is a group of events by New York Magazine, which gives you everything you didn't know you wanted to know about celebrities. You can expect the usual Q&As, sneak peeks, and table reads, but this year, an acting class and a movie rewatch are also part of the deal. Vulture Fest happens on the 13th and 14th of November, 2021. Get tickets here.
5. Pop up Magazine 2021 at Ace Hotel
I am so in love with the fact that there are theatres in hotels! Of course, all incredibly luxurious, but that's the point, right? After some virtual editions, Pop up Magazine will be turning what is mostly a creatives’ hangout into a night of glory with incredible things to watch, hear and see. On the 14th of November, 2021, the best kinds of creatives in every field of art will come on stage to share and discuss said art. Everything showing will be new, and novelty can be really exciting, right?
You can book tickets and an Ace hotel room here.
6. Christmas lights at LA Zoo
It kind of hurts me how many traditions we didn't get to experience in 2020 because of the lockdown. We had to cancel everything from small functions like the Easter party my extended family has every year to common holiday traditions. One of the latter is popular all over L.A. — and everywhere, really. It’s just especially grand in Los Angeles. It involves colourfully lighting up public spaces like the Los Angeles Zoo all night from right before Thanksgiving starts till after New Year ends. Thankfully, this Christmas lighting tradition is making a comeback in 2021 and not just at the zoo.
Here, the lights hang on surreal-looking structures representing the animals you’d find in the zoo, including butterflies. (That's right! Glimmering butterflies. Squeals.) No matter the weather, the event is held every night — except Thanksgiving (November 24), Christmas Eve and Christmas Day — from the 19th of November, 2021 till the 9th of January, 2022. Buy your tickets here.
7. Enchanted: Forest of Light at Descanso Gardens
Descanso Gardens is another public space for the Los Angeles Christmas lighting tradition, and remember I said the zoo isn't the only comeback site? Here, the event is called Enchanted: Forest of Light, and I find that appropriate because it does look like Tinkerbell herself would be taking you on the walk. Starting from the 21st of November, 2021 to the 10th of January, 2022, you can visit the botanic garden for Enchanted: Forest of Light. You should remember, though, that certain displays will be on only on certain days. Purchase tickets here.
8. GLOW at South Coast Botanic Garden
GLOW (Garden Lights & Ocean Waters) is to South Coast Botanic Garden as Enchanted: Forest of Light is to Descanso Gardens. This event isn't making a comeback, though, because South Coast Botanic Garden was able to make things work in 2020. And 2021 is the second year GLOW is happening, so it basically worked on its first try. A lot was taken away in 2020, but we also got some new things like this, and that's very satisfying. South Coast Botanic Garden will stay up late at night from the 20th of November, 2021, till the 17th of January, 2022. Tickets are available online.
9. Turkey Trot at City Hall
The Turkey Trot has been a popular Thanksgiving tradition in LA for eight years. The Los Angeles City Hall is the start and finish of this amusing race, and families often come together because people of all ages can participate. The event is on the 25th of November, 2021, from 8 am to noon so everyone can get back home in time for family dinner. Register as a runner or donate to The Midnight Mission online.
10. Hayao Miyazaki exhibition at Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
There are movie museums in various entertainment hubs of the world, and of course, Los Angeles has one of the largest in the world. In fact, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, L.A.’s new Museum, is the largest in the US. It should have opened in 2020, but — you guessed it! — the pandemic. Sad shrug. The good part is that celebrities were finally allowed to visit on the 25th of September, 2021, and five days later, the museum was open to the general public.
Hayao Miyazaki is an exhibition at the museum about a Japanese animator with the same name. The exhibition is as whimsical as it is dreamy, like the anime favourites Miyazaki’s made. The major films that make up this exhibition are Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro and Princess Mononoke. Film screenings are another perk of this exhibition, and you only have this month left to catch them. They stop showing on the 27th of November, 2021. Get tickets here.