Party Like Its 1969 at These Apollo 11-Themed Events Around L.A.

Celebrate the lunar landing’s 50th anniversary in style

Fifty years ago this Saturday, humans walked on the moon for the first time and it was a big deal. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made humanity proud (while poor Michael Collins kept circling the block waiting to pick them up) by bouncing around and taking fun pictures of each other. Much of the equipment used to get them there was created in Southern California, so you can imagine the excitement of Angelenos when those images first crackled across grainy TVs from your grandma’s house to Disneyland. Just a month after the launch, the astronauts landed at the Century Plaza Hotel to get an award from the president and a parade downtown. This weekend is your chance to celebrate it all over again and party like it’s 1969.

Columbia Space Center Landing Day

Saturday, July 20

This small but mighty museum in Downey was built on the site of the aerospace plant that built parts for the Saturn V rocket and the lunar modules. Some of those original engineers still live nearby and have been participating in events leading up to the big public open house and viewing party on the grounds where guests are encouraged to dress in their 1969 finest and experience the landing “live” as it happens on the big screen.

California Science Center Apollo 11 Celebration

Saturday, July 20

One of the great museums in Exposition Park is offering a free all-day family extravaganza with experiments, meteorites, and a portable planetarium courtesy of NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Astro artifacts including space capsules, the Apollo-Soyuz command module, and a variety of spacesuits will also be on display.

Apollo 11: The Immersive Live Show

Through August 11

This drama is staged inside a custom-built “lunar dome” near the Rose Bowl, and is certainly the most theatrical way to experience a simulation of the moon landing. You could practically roast marshmallows under the very convincing roar and flame of a giant rocket and the descent of the lunar lander is a marvel. There’s also a giant cast of community theater players cast as weary astronaut wives, stern mission controllers, and a plucky granddaughter exploring the stars with her beloved pop pop.

A full moon photographed from the Apollo 11 spacecraft July 21, 1969

Photo: NASA

Dodger Stadium

Saturday, July 20

Astronaut Terry Virts, who put in time on the International Space Station, will be throwing out the first ball after meeting and greeting fans at the stadium. And Budweiser is debuting their 1969-flavored beer Discovery Reserve American Red Lager. Oh, and the Dodgers are playing the Florida Marlins. Florida, as in the place where the Apollo missions launched.

Apollo 11 Documentary Back in Theaters

Saturday-Wednesday, July 20-24

Director Todd Douglas Miller combined newly discovered 65mm footage of the Apollo mission and snippets from more than 11,000 hours of uncataloged audio recordings to create the top-grossing documentary of the year with a 98 percent on Rotten Tomatoes! The film is back in theaters, including the Century City shopping center, Citywalk, the California Science Center, and the new Alamo Drafthouse downtown.

Paley Center Moon Landing 50th Anniversary Screening

Saturday & Sunday, July 20 & 21

The TV museum presents free programming all weekend dedicated to that day when half a billion people were all tuned into the same show. Experience docs, historic news footage, the 1970s futurism of Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov, and a pre-Breaking Bad Bryan Cranston as Buzz Aldrin in the HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon.

Museum of the San Fernando Valley 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11

Saturday, July 20

Somewhere between exhibits on Tarzan and Hollywood dwarves, the Museum of the San Fernando Valley is paying tribute to the aerospace engineers from Aerojet Rocketdyne, North American Rockwell, Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, and others who made the missions possible. A VIP reception includes dinner, a program and special guest speakers.

Apollo 11: One Giant Leap for Mankind at Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum

Through January 13, 2020

The 37th president was all over the moon—every mission took place during his administration. He called the astronauts just a few minutes after they landed, he met them on a boat at the splashdown site, he threw a big party for them in Century City, and he signed his name to a plaque they left on the lunar surface. A special exhibit at his museum features a 360-degree virtual reality experience, artifacts including spacesuits, moon rocks, and a replica of the Command Module. The highlight is a recreated 1969 living room where visitors can watch the original broadcast on a period TV.

Astronaut Edwin Aldrin poses for photograph beside deployed U.S. flag

Photo: NASA

Griffith Observatory Golden Moon Festival

Through Wednesday, July 24

Our most beloved space landmark hosts an after-hours moonrise party at 8 p.m. on Friday, and a day of free lectures and discussions on Saturday including a look back at Apollo, Mysteries of the Moon, info on the proposed 2024 moon mission, and a whole symposium for nonbelievers called Man on the Moon: Hoax or No Hoax. Good thing Buzz isn’t going. He might wear out his punching fist.

Songs and Stories: From the Earth to the Moon at Coffee Gallery Backstage

Saturday, July 20

Folk rocker Jerry Burgan and his wife Debbie will perform the 1960s hits of their band We Five in this classic coffee house in Altadena before screening an original 16mm copy of the NASA documentary With Their Eyes on the Stars.


Apollo 11 Pie Holes

The Pie Hole chain of pie shops has debuted an adorable tribute to outer space with a teensy two-bite treat filled with blueberry jam available at their stores and at the Apollo 11 Experience in Pasadena. The galactic indulgence is topped with blue/teal/violet/pink and white lemon icing with edible stars and silver dust. The bakers recommend taking them on a celebratory picnic to Griffith Park Observatory or JPL. Mine didn’t last the car ride home.

RELATED: The Time the First Watch Worn on the Moon Went Missing

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