Secrets of Laguna Beach – the Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters

Living in Southern California means being part of one of the world’s most vibrant and exciting cultural landscapes. From visual arts, home decor and fashion, to music festivals, opera and jazz, you get a wide variety of events that can keep you busy year round. Among these cultural events there is one that often passes unnoticed, despite its 85 years of continuity and absolute uniqueness: the Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters at Laguna Beach. Most visitors of California come to Laguna Beach for the beautiful beaches, fancy boutiques, art galleries and great restaurants, but very few ever heard of the living pictures, a live performance that takes you can’t see anywhere else in the world but here. 

The Festival of Arts venue at Laguna Beach


A Brief History of the Festival of Arts

It all began the early Depression years when the small art town on the shores of the Pacific was doing pretty poorly. 1932 the community began looking for ways to attract visitors to Laguna Beach and possibly interest them in buying art from the local artists. A festival of arts with a parade was proposed, all in support of creating a place where the local artists could sell their art. The festival was a success, people came dressed up in costumes and had a lot of fun. The following year, in 1933, artist Lolita Perine came up with the idea of creating living pictures to entertain the crowds. She persuading some local volunteers to participate in this. They have been dress up in costumes and seated behind an oversized frame, recreating well-known works of art. The festival was named “Spirit of the Masters Pageant”. The Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters had became had become a celebration of traditions in art at a community level. The initial production was of relatively poor quality, but in the next several years the level of performance was greatly improved. Today the Pageant of the Masters at Laguna Beach, California, is one of the most amazing and unique art displays that you will ever see.


The summer-long festival is held for eight weeks in Laguna Beach, beginning July. The Pageant consists of 90 minutes of “living pictures” narrated by a professional narrator, with great period music performed by professional  vocalists and orchestra. In the same tradition in which it started, the Pageant is put on by a small paid staff and several hundred volunteers from all over Southern California. The auditions and casting of volunteers start at the beginning of January each year. The Festival of Arts in Laguna Beach is one of the most beloved traditions in Southern California. You must see it to really understand the how magical and original this production really is. 

Tickets to Pageant of the Masters range from $15 to over $200 and include admission to the Festival of Arts grounds. Admission to the festival without Pageant of the Masters tickets costs $8-$12.



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22 Comments on “Secrets of Laguna Beach – the Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters

  1. The Pageant of the Masters sounds like a lot of fun. I’d not heard of it before, but will certainly keep it in mind now. Another good reason to visit Laguna Beach in summer.

    • I’m not surprised you haven’t heard about it, Rhonda. Many people who live in Southern California haven’t heard about it either and that’s a shame. This is such a unique festival.

  2. Sadly, I’ve never heard of this festival! I’ll have to keep this in mind the next time I’m in Cali! Although, I’ve only ever been to Laguna Beach once as it was somewhere I always just drove past driving to and from my university to home. #TheWeeklyPostcard
    Lolo recently posted…200th Post: A Celebration of CG’s PostsMy Profile

    • What a shame, Mary. Only 45 minutes away and you haven’t seen it yet? I live two hours away and still go almost every year.

  3. I have two friends who live in the Laguna Beach area that I have visited frequently and I have never heard of these events. It looks wonderful and sounds like a great deal. I think the prices look quite reasonable especially for the southern California area. Hopefully I will make it back there soon and definitely add the Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters to my list of things I want to do! #theweeklypostcard
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  4. Anda, I have been to all the summer festivals in Laguna (btw, love the area) but have never bought tickets to the Pageant of the Masters. I know it is a unique experience and that I have to go at least once. I should be checking tickets as soon as possible! #TheWeeklyPostcard
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    • I’m surprised to hear that you went so close to the Pageant of the Masters and never got to see it. You definitely should go, Ruth. It’s quite an experience.

  5. I love art and it’s nice to see so much masterpieces in an art festival. Glad that there is a such a great event at the Laguna but wow, the ticket price is quite expensive.
    Sadly I couldn’t be there to see them myself but thanks for sharing with us about the news! @ knycx.journeying

  6. I would definitely include Pageant of the Masters if I was able to visit the festival – I would love to travel to Laguna during July! You’re right, I had this picture in my head which was very limited to beach culture, though didn’t realize there was such a big community focus on the arts 🙂 Thanks for the post Anda!
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  7. The Pageant of the Masters is something I heard for the first time. But I found it really fascinating. The month long event would be a really interesting one to visit.

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