Fall is here, if you can believe it, and we’re still hunkering down and staying safe to stop the spread of COVID-19. Nonetheless, it’s the weekend, and it’s best spent in the company of household-sharing loved ones, distancing out in nature, or enjoying some great entertainment at home. Here are our picks for things to do this weekend. Have fun, but be safe.
Through November 13
Like every other beloved annual event, this year’s L.A. Times Festival of Books has gone virtual this year. Upcoming programs include a discussion on crime fiction with three L.A.-based crime-fiction writers (Oct. 23), Ray Bradbury Prize for Science Fiction winner Marlon James in conversation with writer Tananarive Due (Oct. 25), and Natalie Portman discussing her new book of fables (Nov. 1). [More info]
Friday & Saturday, October 23 & 24
On Friday and Saturday, Chinatown tea room Steep L.A. is launching a new weekly outdoor dining experience Steep After Dark (aka SAD) in the courtyard at Mandarin Plaza. Offerings include dishes by guest Chef Shawn Pham of Tsubaki and Ototo in Echo Park, along with Chef Tim Wah, and tea-based libations by Philip Ly. Hours are 4-9 p.m. [More info]
Tom Petty’s 70th Birthday Bash
Friday, October 23
This annual celebration of late rocker Tom Petty’s birthday usually takes place a long way from L.A. (in his hometown of Gainesville, Florida), but this year’s virtual fest is for fans from coast to coast. Look for appearances and performances from a bananas lineup that includes Beck, Eddie Vedder, Lucinda Williams, Lenny Kravitz, and many more. [More info]
Saturday, October 24
Molly Shannon, Paul Rudd, Michael Ian Black, Janeane Garofalo, Michael Showalter, A.D. Miles, Chris Meloni, and the rest of the cast of the 2000 cult classic comedy Wet Hot American Summer are reuniting for a live read and Q&A to raise money for the Biden Victory Fund. Special guests from subsequent iterations (i.e. the Netflix series) are also on board. [Tickets here]
Saturday, October 24
Highland Park’s own Billie Eilish had to halt her arena tour because of the pandemic, so she’s created an immersive livestream experience for fans. According to Rolling Stone, “Using multiple cameras and state-of-the-art XR technology, the event will be a virtual concert in a 3D rendered environment. Performing live with her brother Finneas and touring drummer Andrew Marshall, Eilish is expected to retool elements from her halted 2020 arena tour and reconfigure them for the virtual event alongside new elements.” [More info]
Friendly House Virtual Gala
Saturday, October 24
Friendly House, an L.A. addiction treatment center for women, is hosting its 31st annual gala virtually. The event, emceed by Lena Dunham, features celebs including Russell Brand, Katey Sagal, and Boy George, and a silent auction offers goodies like a painting by David Lynch or a 20-minute Zoom chat with Margaret Cho. The event is totally free to attend, but donations are very welcome. [More info]
Sunday, October 25
Education nonprofit Para Los Niños honors United in Harmony – Camp Harmony at its 40th anniversary virtual benefit, hosted by Mario Lopez. Some of L.A.’s best restaurants—Kali, Rossoblu, Redbird, and more—are donating a portion of the proceeds from takeout orders placed on Sunday to the nonprofit, too.
Through October 31
A drive-thru Halloween experience suitable for all ages, Haunt’oween comes from Experiential Supply, a firm that typically creates sets and effects for Hollywood productions. The experience will have photo ops, a jack-o’-lantern tunnel, and a pumpkin patch for picking your own pumpkin to take home (after it’s sanitized, put into a single-use bag, deposited in your trunk though contact-free delivery). Of special note is the trick-or-treat experience, featuring a spooky “neighborhood” populated by (masked) actors who will hand out candy to kids via poles and buckets that offer distancing. [More info]
In honor of Dia del Los Muertos next month, UCLA’s Fowler Museum teamed up with Self Help Graphics to present a free virtual workshop on how to make your own calaca cartonería, or papier mache skeleton. Artist William Acedo walks viewers through the five-part process, which takes four or five days to complete (so give yourself plenty of time!) [More info]
Through November 1
To adapt to 2020, the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride had to drop the “hayride” part–but they’re still haunting. The event is now billed as a “first of its kind immersive experience” where you stay in your car through a multimedia show, that includes video and real-life performers. Fittingly, the theme is a haunted drive-in movie theater. Tickets for this weekend are sold out, but there are a handful of dates still available. [More info]
Through October 31
Enjoy a traditional gourd-gathering mission–with COVID protocols, of course–at Mr. Jack O’Lanterns Pumpkin Patch, which opens this weekend for in-person shopping or online preorders. You can explore the sanitized patches and pick up everything you need to decorate your seasonal squash. [More info]
Saturdays through October 31
The air is (a little bit) clearer, and the shops and restaurants along Montana Avenue in Santa Monica are hosting a series of special outdoor events. Look for sidewalk sales and special outdoor seating arrangements for diners, and don’t forget your face mask. [More info]
We just updated our guide to summertime movies with a fresh batch of drive-in and rooftop screenings. This weekend’s offerings include Get Out, Cabin in the Woods, Doolittle, and more. [More info]
Movie theaters are still closed and all of those pop-up screenings sell out fast, but the L.A. area’s stationary drive-ins don’t require advance tickets and have plenty of great movies to check out—and double features galore. It’s a throwback that’s become very welcome during the era of social distancing.
It feels like we’re living through one interminable Monday under this global house arrest, but it technically is the weekend. So why not take a break from the news and the glitchy Zoom meetings and watch something fun? Check out what we have in this week’s roundup of streaming recommendations because sometimes the best things to do are the most low-effort of all.
Looking for even more things to watch, eat, and do during the COVID-19 outbreak? Check out our Inside Guide.