World-class performers in an outdoor concert on a balmy summer evening. A champagne picnic under the stars. A location that wins Pollstar’s best major outdoor concert venue award every year. It all adds up to make the Hollywood Bowl a must-do summer event for visitors and locals alike.
Since 1922, Angelenos have been enjoying summer concerts at the Hollywood Bowl, the United States' largest natural outdoor amphitheater. The ambiance is laid-back and sophisticated. It's a beautiful setting, and even though it's in the middle of a busy city, once you're seated you'll barely know it.
Concert-goers show up as soon as the grounds open, and some attendees take their picnics to elevated levels, feasting on gourmet meals on tables on the grounds or sitting along the sidewalks on the way in. Others settle into their seats right away, sharing food and drinks as they wait for the show to begin.
Performances at the Hollywood Bowl
Performers who have appeared at the Bowl in recent years include Paul Simon, Andrea Bocelli, Steve Martin, Queen Latifah, and the legendary Taj Mahal and Keb' Mo' Band. They also stage sing-along versions of classic films like Grease, and screenings of other films with their scores performed live-to-picture.
On the serious side, the LA Philharmonic is the Bowl's resident orchestra, performing the classics. The resident Hollywood Bowl Orchestra also plays lighter selections.
Jazz at the Hollywood Bowl: The Philharmonic's Jazz at the Bowl Series includes blues, big bands, Latin jazz, and other styles. The two-day Playboy Jazz Festival and Smooth Summer Jazz (formerly JVC Jazz) also bring jazz greats and exciting newcomers to the Hollywood Bowl's summer lineup.
Fourth of July at the Hollywood Bowl: With audience members wearing red-white-and-blue-themed duds, an Armed Forces Salute and a rousing rendition of patriotic music no matter who the headline performer is, it might all seem a bit corny if it weren't so heartfelt. And the fireworks finale never disappoints.
Crowds at the Hollywood Bowl
With a seating capacity of just under 18,000, the Hollywood Bowl is not an intimate concert venue, but it seldom feels overcrowded, either. To avoid frustration, arrive early enough to allow time to get through security and get to your seats.
Picnicking at the Hollywood Bowl
If you get to the Hollywood Bowl just in time for the concert, you'll miss half the fun. In fact, a pre-concert picnic is one of the most enjoyable parts of the experience.
You can bring your own food and enjoy it one of the picnic areas which open about 4 hours before each concert. You can also picnic at your seat, which affords excellent people-watching. Wine is allowed.
You can also get your food on location. Options are listed on the Hollywood Bowl website.
Hollywood Bowl Tips
- As viewed from the stage, the seats on the right side are the first to get afternoon shade. They're the best choice if you want to picnic in your seats.
- The less you pay for your ticket, the more likely you are to be disrupted by your neighbors — who may talk through the entire concert or stand in the aisle blocking your view just so they can hold their own private dance party. And while it’s less common at the Bowl than other concert venues, you are also more likely to experience secondhand marijuana smoke.
- Bring binoculars if you want a closer look, but even without them, there are plenty of big video screens.
- No matter how hot the day was, it's likely to cool down as the sun sets - bring more layers more than you think you'll need.
- If you take the Park & Ride service, pay attention to what they tell you when you get off the bus, so you know how to get back.
- To avoid embarrassment, keep your containers under control. Don't be that person whose wine bottle clatters down a dozen rows during the quietest part of the concert.
- Children of all ages are allowed but know your kids. Some younger ones may grow bored and restless during the performances.
- Avoid frustration. Check the House Rules before you go to find out what's allowed (and what's not).
Hollywood Bowl Tickets and Reservations
Seats in the upper rows start as low as $15 for many concerts but can range into the hundreds of dollars for box seats near the stage. Everyone enjoys the same ambiance and hears the same music, and the large video screens and excellent sound system give everybody a chance to experience the performers.
Better-known performers sell out fast. Get ahead of the crowd and buy your tickets online or get them in person from the box office at 2301 North Highland. If the show you want to see sells out, try calling the box office frequently, asking for released house seats. You can also check StubHub for individual ticket resales.
You may also be able to get discounted tickets for some performances through Goldstar. Find out what Goldstar is and how to use it.
Hollywood Bowl Basics
The Hollywood Bowl summer concert season runs from late June through mid-September, but other events such as the Playboy Jazz Festival may occur earlier or later.
You can find lots of tips, answers to questions and other information on the Hollywood Bowl website.
How to Get to the Hollywood Bowl
The Hollywood Bowl is on Highland Ave. near U.S. Highway 101 in Hollywood.
A limited amount of paid parking is available on site, but it's expensive, and traffic snarls will slow your trip. To make matters even worse, cars are parked "stacked" style (like sardines in a can), and it can take hours to get out of the lots after a show ends.
Your evening will be more enjoyable if you use a shared ride service, or even better use the Hollywood Bowl Park and Ride service or take the Metro Red Line to the Hollywood and Highland stop and catch the Hollywood Bowl Shuttle at 6801 Hollywood Blvd. Details for all your options are on the Hollywood Bowl website.