Explore The World At September’s Festivals

By Michael Berick

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Aztec dancers perform at the Aquarium of the Pacific’s Baja Splash Festival. PHOTO COURTESY AQUARIUM OF THE PACIFIC

If you didn’t find time for family travel this summer, you will get a second chance this month. An international array of festivals taking place around Southern California offer the opportunity to experience cultures from around the globe.

September is Latino Heritage Month, and several festivals will salute Hispanic culture. The first two are free! Celebrating Mexican independence, Fiestas Patrias fills Olvera Street Plaza (125 Paseo de la Plaza, L.A.) from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 13-14. There will be performances, kids’ activities, food and rides. Learn about the role Hispanics played in the American Civil War from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sept. 20 at the Drum Barracks (1052 Banning Blvd., Wilmington; www.drumbarracks.org).

The L.A. Zoo (5333 Zoo Dr., L.A.; www.lazoo.org) spotlights Latin American animals and offers craft activities and performances during its Latino Celebration Sept. 27-28. This event comes with normal zoo admission ($19 adults, $14 ages 2-12). That same weekend, Mexican, Salvadoran and Panamanian cultures are showcased through music, dance, art and storytelling at the Aquarium of the Pacific’s Baja Splash Cultural Festival (100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach; www.aquariumofpacific.org). Aquarium admission is $28.95 adults, $14.95 ages 3-11.

A pair of Greek Festivals bookend September. The Los Angeles Greek Festival returns to St. Sophia Church (1324 S. Normandie, L.A.; www.lagreekfest.com) from 5-11 p.m. Sept. 5, noon-11 p.m. Sept. 6 and noon-10 p.m. Sept. 7 with a lively selection of music, dance and food. The Pasadena Greek Fest populates Santa Anita Park (285 Huntington Dr., Arcadia; www.pasadenagreekfest.org) from 5 p.m.-1 a.m. Sept. 19, noon- 1 a.m. Sept. 20 and noon-10 p.m. Sept. 21 with more great Greek amusements and delicacies. Admission to each festival is $5 for adults, free for children 11 and younger.

Asian celebrations this month include The Moon Festival in Chinatown (934-951 N. Broadway Blvd., L.A.; www.chinatownla.com) from 5 p.m.-midnight Sept. 13, offering a free evening of music, magic, food, art and moon-watching. The L.A. Korean Festival Sept. 18-21 at Seoul International Park (3250 San Marino St., L.A.; www.lakoreanfestival.org) promotes cultural diversity through Korean food, performance, shopping and learning experiences. The 22nd annual Thai Cultural Day Sept. 21 at Barnsdall Park (4800 Hollywood Blvd., L.A.; www.thaiculturalcenter.org) will bring feature Thai kickboxing, vegetable carving, costume contests and kids workshops – all free – from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Global culture gets a spin at Watts Towers (1727 E. 107th St., L.A.; www.trywatts.com) with two days of free music – the Day of the Drum Festival Sept. 27 and a Jazz Festival Sept. 28. On both days, from 11 a.m.-6 p.m., you can tour the towers, too. The Aquarium of the Pacific’s Moompetam Festival, meanwhile, honors local Native American cultures with a selection of traditional music, dance, crafts and storytelling from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 20-21 with normal aquarium admission.

Michael Berick is Calendar Editor of L.A. Parent.

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