Beachside community of Laguna Beach.

OC Living: Festival of the Arts and Pageant of the Masters


One of the best things about living in Orange County, California, is the thriving arts scene. The county plays host to two spectacular art experiences in the beachside community of Laguna Beach. Festival of the Arts and Pageant of the Masters are two world-renowned art experiences and they will almost certainly take your breath away. If you're an art lover and have not experienced these incredible events yet, you're in for an unforgettable treat.

Visitors browsing dimly-lit art at the Festival of the Arts.

Photo Courtesy of Festival of Arts/Pageants of the Masters Facebook Page.

Festival of the Arts

This summer-long festival featuring over 140 local artists showcases many very talented craftspeople. It’s a tradition defining the rich cultural history and artistic spirit of Laguna Beach and the surrounding areas. The experience is a true feast for the eyes and all of the senses.

The tradition began in 1932 when the first Festival of the Arts was held in downtown Laguna Beach while Los Angeles was hosting the Summer Olympics. It has continued every year since – except when it was stopped for four years during World War II and recently in 2020 due to the pandemic. It moved to its current, permanent home in 1941 and continues to be an iconic annual event for the community.

Orange County artists of all kinds display their work in the lively atmosphere of Festival of the Arts. Curious visitors can browse and purchase one-of-a-kind pieces including paintings, photography, woodwork, jewelry, sculpture, and even furniture. The Festival of Arts Permanent Art Collection offers over 1,000 pieces showcasing an enticing glimpse into the Orange County region's rich cultural history.

Special Events

There's a lot more than art at Festival of the Arts. There are also daily events and concerts to keep festival attendees entertained. Visitors will find something for everyone, including:

  • Concerts on the Green
  • Laguna Beach Live!
  • Art, Jazz, Wine and Chocolate
  • Tremendous Tributes Music in the Park at Festival of the Arts
  • Junior Artists Celebration

Several evenings throughout the week, musicians take to the festival concert stage. From big band to jazz to rock to country, all genres are represented. We recommend you arrive early, as seating is limited for these popular events. You can also pre-purchase tickets for a reserved section. Get ready to sit back, relax, and enjoy the sounds from the talented musicians of Southern California.

Exterior building of Pageant of the Masters with flower landscaping.

Photo Courtesy of Festival of Arts/Pageants of the Masters Facebook Page.

Pageant of Masters

Art quite literally comes to life at Pageant of the Masters. In 1935, the "living pictures" aspect of the festival was introduced to thrilled audiences, and it’s now the best-selling show in Orange County. The experience includes an evening under the stars in a beautiful outdoor amphitheater and a jaw-dropping show that you won't soon forget.

Audience members are transfixed as the stage transforms into living recreations of some of the most famous works of art. The tableaux vivants, or living pictures, are amazingly accurate portrayals of contemporary and classic art. Real people, in full detailed makeup and costume, strike their poses against intricate backgrounds that appear to look identical to the originals. With a full orchestra and live narration, it is art as you've never experienced it before.

How the Magic is Created

It takes an entire team of dedicated volunteers to put on the production. It's a sought-after gig that runs seven nights a week for eight weeks, and the eager volunteers come from all walks of life and backgrounds. The process of turning the volunteers into famous works of art that wow the audience is a meticulous process. It involves the right casting, makeup, wardrobe, headpieces, and onstage posing.

The backdrops are exact, life-size reproductions of the paintings recreated in amazing detail. Combining rich textures, colors, and lighting makes the audience barely able to tell where the living cast members end, and the scenery begins. The program lasts for 90 minutes, and each tableau is frozen on stage for 90 seconds. Even with binoculars, spectators are unlikely to see a blink or movement from the talented performers.

The Celebrity Benefit Concert and Pageant at the Laguna Beach Festival of Arts

One night stands out from the rest as the star-studded highlight of the summer. The Celebrity Benefit Concert and Pageant at the Laguna Beach Festival of Arts is a yearly event that offers a red-carpet evening of art and entertainment. There's a unique performance of Pageant of the Masters, and the gala event raises thousands for arts programming and the facility's Building Fund.

How to Visit

Since Laguna Beach is a popular destination, particularly in the summer months, it is best to arrive early. Browse Festival of the Arts, grab a drink, enjoy a concert, or dine at one of the two on-site restaurants before the show begins. Guests over 21 are allowed to bring their own alcohol; however, glass bottles and containers are prohibited. There is also a gift shop where you can purchase gifts, posters, or a sweatshirt to throw on when the temperature drops after sunset.

Get unlimited entry to Festival of the Arts, Laguna Art-A-Fair, and Sawdust Art Festival with the Passport to the Arts. It's the perfect choice for a summer filled with all the best art activities in Orange County.

Festival of the Arts and Pageant of the Masters contribute significantly to Orange County's vibrant art scene and community. Are you ready to experience it for yourself? Find out more about this year’s festival theme, purchasing tickets, and full calendar of events at And when you’re ready to call Orange County home, we have several Essex apartment communities in the area!

Find Your Essex Apartment

Our apartment communities span from San Diego to San Francisco and the Pacific Northwest in some of the most sought-after locations on the West Coast. Whether you're looking for life in Los Angeles, settling down in San Jose, or relaxing in Oakland, we can help. Choose from bustling city life, quiet comfort in the suburbs, sun and sand at the beach, or outdoor adventures and a wide variety of on-site amenities and floor plans that span from studios to two-bedroom apartments to townhomes. Whatever your style and budget, we have a community that’s right for you.

Explore our nearly 250 apartments, such as The Havens in Fountain Valley or The Henley in Glendale, and learn more about current leasing or move-in specials and pricing.