Guide to Memorial Day in Los Angeles: Festivals, Events, Things to Do

​Memorial Day, which falls on the last Monday of May, commemorates the men and women who died while in the military service. It is also considered by many to be the unofficial start of summer.

In observance of the holiday, many people visit cemeteries and military memorials across the country, and volunteers can be seen placing American flags on each grave site at national cemeteries. The National Moment of Remembrance, which begins at 3 p.m., local time, is an act of national unity and a way to pay respects to those who fought for our freedoms.

Though the mild weather may seem like Los Angeles is an eternal summer, Angelinos use this long weekend to spend a day (or more) at a local beach, take a short road trip up the coast, or enjoy one of the many happenings in the area.

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    A grave at Forest Lawn cemetery on Veterans Day.
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    The Forest Lawn, which owns a number of local cemeteries honors veterans on Memorial Day each year with a rifle salute, a color guard procession, patriotic music, and more.

    The time of celebration begins at 10 a.m., or 1 p.m., depending on the location, and free souvenirs and refreshments are offered to all attendees. 

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    This free, family-friendly observance at the SkyRose Chapel at Rose Hills Whittier features performances from chamber singers, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, and the American Heritage Ensemble. 

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    Battleship USS Iowa retired in San Pedro California
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    Board the USS Iowa for Military Appreciation Day, where you can enjoy carnival games, food trucks, and live entertainment. The USS Iowa is a real former battleship that was used in World War II. The ship is now a museum that offers educational exhibits and public tours.

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    Fiesta Hermosa is southern California's largest arts and crafts festival. Taking place twice during the summer (Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend), you can enjoy multiple entertainment stages while you shop at over 400 vendor booths, all with a gorgeous seaside backdrop. There's also a kiddie carnival with a 30-foot slide, pony rides, a petting zoo, and face painters, as well as a free bicycle valet service that is very popular with locals.

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    Hollywood Bowl marquee in Los Angeles
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    Enjoy an exciting presentation of "Beauty and the Beast" like you've never seen before. Taking place outdoors at the historic Hollywood Bowl, the original 1991 film will be screened while an orchestra, along with a star-studded cast, perform the musical numbers live. Zooey Deschanel, Kelsey Grammer, Taye Diggs, and Rebel Wilson, were just a few of the famous names taking the stage at this unique event in 2018.

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    Scottish Fest is an annual celebration of Scottish heritage. The event features music from the homeland, as well as Highland dancing competitions, and the thrilling Highland Games including hammer throws and a caber toss.

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    Simi Valley Cajun And Blues Music Festival
    Scott Dudelson/Getty Images 

    Cajun flavor comes to Los Angeles via the Simi Valley Cajun & Blues Music Festival. Listen to the unique sounds of Zydeco, Blues, and of course, Cajun music during this two-day extravaganza. Tickets can be purchased for one or both days of the event, and proceeds are donated to several local charities.

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    The Valley Greek Festival encourages attendees to "Get Greek" by sampling the cuisine, listening to traditional music, and dancing the night away. ​Operating Saturday, Sunday, and Monday of Memorial Day weekend, this event will make you feel like you've jetted off the Mediterranean. 

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    Hollywood Boulevard
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    Prefer to do your holiday celebrating at night? Join one of the club crawls on Friday or Saturday night in Hollywood or Downtown LA. Each crawl will visit between three and five different venues, and a party host will be there to lead the way. You won't have to worry about waiting in line because your ticket includes express entry and special prices on drinks at each location.

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    Visit the Topanga Days Country Fair

    The Topanga Days Country Fair is a country jamboree that has multiple stages of entertainment, a fine arts and crafts fair, and plenty of activities for both adults and children alike. You can take part in sack races, a water balloon war, a cherry-seed spitting contest, a three-legged race, or the popular pie-eating contest. In 2018, the fair celebrated its 45th season at the Topanga Community Club.


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    Long Beach at night.
     Kevitivity - Kevin Stanchfield/Getty Images

    Set sail aboard the Catalina King Yacht. This high energy booze cruise departs from Long Beach and is well known as a place to see and be seen. For those looking for a club experience with a stunning backdrop, this event is definitely for you.

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    Strawberry lovers will be in heaven at this four-day festival celebrating this humble fruit. There will be a parade, carnival rides, pageants celebrating strawberry blondes, and enough strawberry shortcake to feel the crowd. The 2018 Garden Grove Strawberry Festival celebrated its 60th year of operation.

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    Canoga Park Memorial Day Parade banner
    br-photo/Getty Images 

    The annual Canoga Park Memorial Day Parade includes military marching units, live bands, elaborate floats, classic cars, flyovers by military aircraft, equestrian units, and so much more. The procession begins at the corner of Sherman Way and Owensmouth Avenue and proceeds east along Sherman Way all the way to the First Baptist Church. The parade is usually followed by a car show with live entertainment in the parking lot of the church.