My Favorite Day of Summer

One thing I anticipate all year long is the Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach. It is a marathon of a day and evening, but it is nine hours of sheer fun. This year the Festival of Arts is proudly celebrating its 85th year, and the town is all abuzz. To honor this distinction, they just completed a year-long facelift and now have a brand new entry, spectacular stage, enhanced grounds and courtyard–and, they even added a lovely wine bar.

A brisk walk along Main Beach is the perfect spot where we like to start our outing. We ‘people watch,’ marvel at the beauty of the water and breathe in that crisp, coastal air. We step into The Terrace at the Hotel Laguna for a quick cocktail and another peek at the beach below. Then, we are off for an early dinner. By the time we leave the restaurant, the town has transformed itself from water-soaked beachgoers and boogie boards to resort-clad patrons who are all set to paint the town. We saunter our way up to the Festival of Arts entrance–all ready to join in the fun.

The Festival of Arts is an incredible open-air festival with a welcoming center courtyard. There are 140 local artists showcasing their impressive works of art. It is a prestigious juried art show and includes a wide variety of media, such as paintings, photography, printmaking, sculpture, jewelry, handcrafted wood and furniture, ceramics and glass. We walk around and enjoy the creativity everywhere we look. And, in many cases, the artists themselves are there describing the background of a piece they created. They are so proud of their work. Just call me profoundly impressed, as I can barely draw a stick figure!

Here is a little tip I just discovered–the “Passport To The Arts” provides access to the Festival of Arts, Sawdust Festival and Art-A-Fair for the July/August season. For only $24 per person it provides admission to all three. The Festival offers children’s events during the day, art tours, jazz nights, wine and chocolate tastings, lecturers and other special events. What a great value!

The Pageant of the Masters is one of the most unique productions in the world and, if you have not attended, it is really worth doing. Staged in an outdoor amphitheater with a professional orchestra, the live narration and elaborate sets create a captivating experience under the stars. I am always enchanted by the ninety minutes of tableaux vivants (living pictures), which are re-creations of classical and contemporary paintings and statues. They use real people posing to look exactly like their counterparts in the original works of art. My favorite part is when they show the actors getting into place against the backdrop and how the stage is transformed once the lighting is perfected. This year, the theme is “The Grand Tour,” which focuses on the 17th and 18th centuries, when wealthy travelers visited the great cultural centers of Europe to explore fine art. This adventure will take us to England, Paris, Versailles, Florence, Pompeii, Venice and Milan, to name a few. The Festival and Pageant both run through August 31st and curtain call for the Pageant is 8:30 p.m. nightly, and I can’t wait!