Festivals in the Valley
Yes, with an area this large, there are bound to be a few festivals in the Valley and we cover them here. And that’s just the local festivities, not to mention all of the LA festivals just over the hill.
Halloween Harvest Festival
Taking place every year at Pierce College in the San Fernando Valley neighborhood of Woodland Hills, the Halloween Harvest Festival (www.halloweenharvestfestival) features farm-grown pumpkins and an array of Halloween-related activities for kids of all ages. Put together by the college, the festival opens at the end of September and runs through Halloween night, open every day of the week, from 10am till 10pm Sunday through Thursday and from 10am till 12am Friday and Saturday.
Visit the Holiday Hills Farms stage show where you can see Spookley the Square Pumpkin in a live stage show and have a chance to harvest your own pumpkin. If you are the adventurous type, try to find your way through the Adventure Corn Maze and if you’re really brave, enter the Factory of Nightmares Haunted House or take a tour of the Creatures of the Corn Haunted Trail, which both come to life after dark at the FrightFair Scream Park (www.frightfair.com). You can buy tickets online or at the door for the FrightFair attractions, each of which runs about $12. Tickets for the daytime festival are $4 each and a trip through the corn maze will set you back $10 if you’re a grown-up and $8 for the kids. Multi-day passes are also available and include the corn maze, activity tickets, and the hay ride.
Other activities include a giant slide, jumpers, a petting zoo, train rides, a carousel, pony rides, bumper boats, a bungee, a day trip through the haunted house, and gemstone mining. Each attraction requires a certain number of tickets, which can be purchased in singles, and in six and twelve-packs. There are plenty of things to do and see and a trip to the Halloween Harvest Festival will take your pumpkin-picking adventure to a whole new level and really help you celebrate the fun of the fall holiday.
Valley Film Festival
For ten years, the Valley Film Festival in NoHo Arts District has been celebrating all things cinematic that have been put together by both Valley residents and other American and international independent filmmakers (www.valleyfilmfest.com). Held at the El Portal Theatre on Lankershim Blvd. since 2002, the festival offers awards for the best works and even offers up a collection of short films for the audience to vote on. Viewers are presented with a variety of films from entertaining to provocative.
Founded in 2000, this festival is a non-profit activity. Therefore, it relies on corporate sponsorship as well as partners and volunteers to make it a successful venture that is dedicated to promoting and furthering the development of filmmaking in the San Fernando Valley. More recently The Valley Film Festival has entered into a partnership with TribeHollywood.com, which is an entertainment networking site, to further their goal of putting San Fernando Valley filmmakers on the screen and on the map. If you are a local filmmaker and are interested in being part of The Valley Film Festival, submissions are accepted throughout the year, though the earlier you submit, the lower the submission fee. Fees and deadlines can be found on the festival’s website.
Visitors to the festival can find the film schedule online and can either purchase tickets in advance to the films they want to see or can buy walk-up tickets thirty minutes prior to each screening. The box office is by cash only, but you can use a credit card when purchasing tickets online. It’s well worth a trip to The Valley Film Festival, both for a chance to see new and exciting independent filmmaking and to visit the historic El Portal Theatre, which was built in 1926 and first opened as a vaudeville and silent movie theatre.
Valley Food & Wine Festival
For the past four years, The Calabasas Inn in the San Fernando Valley city of Calabasas has been home to an exciting event known at the Calabasas/Malibu Wine and Food Festival. It is a celebration of regional California wines and other local beers and spirits as well as a chance to taste some of the greatest of cuisine from local restaurants and chefs. In 2010. Over 3000 guests attended the event which featured over 200 wines, 20 breweries and 20 spirits along with local restaurants and food demonstrations. The 2010 event also featured entertainment from the 17-piece Fabulous Esquires Big Band.
The event is hosted by Barcelona Enterprises and helps to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Attendees are given a tasting glass upon entry and then allowed free roam of both an indoor section and an outdoor area. Restaurants, wineries and breweries were set up in booths and offered tastings of their choice wines, beers, spirits and popular recipes. Some stations included chefs hard at work so you could see their creations in the making. Once you’ve eaten your fill from an array of choices and sampled the sweet treats at the dessert table, you can make your way to the entertainment area to groove to some good music and let your food digest.
At most of the wine vendors you can place orders or get more information about ordering on their websites in case you find something you really like. There are also a handful of vendors offering unique items and gifts and even a fortune teller where you can get your palm read. And don’t forget to have your tasting glass etched with your name on it. It makes the perfect souvenir of a day sipping wine under the San Fernando Valley sun.
Valley Greek Festival
In the town of Northridge, the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church hosts a festival each year on Memorial Day weekend, known as The Valley Greek Festival (www.valleygreekfestival.com). Memorial Day Weekend 2010 marked the 37th year of this celebration of all things Greek. At least 500 volunteers join forces with the church to create a cultural experience for festival goers. This includes live music, dancing, homemade pastries, and other gourmet Greek foods. In addition, there are cooking demonstrations and children’s activities and for avid shoppers, there’s a Greek market and a number of boutiques.
The festival, which lasts for three days, often sees an average of around 50,000 guests. It’s a fundraiser and admission is free. It’s a great way to spend the day with family and friends and immerse yourself in Greek culture, from the food to the festivities. Each day features an extensive and impressive line-up of performances and exhibitions, so you can hear Greek music played by bands or sung by the church choir, watch traditional Greek dancing, or learn how to make Spanakopita, spinach, and cheese pastry, by watching a cooking demonstration.
Head over to the dining area and taste traditional specialties like Souvlaki, which is a marinated beef brochette, or perhaps Mousaka, a traditional Greek-style lasagna made with eggplant, pasta, and a white cheese cream sauce. Then wander through the boutiques and market to buy traditional Greek spices, foods and wares. The fundraiser supports the church which offers activities and programs for all ages, including two senior citizen complexes, a gym and a youth department which teaches activities like Greek dancing and basketball. Lines can be long at this popular Valley festival keep that in mind when attending. Free parking is available but closer parking can be found at the church for just $5.
Taking place each year at Woodley Park in the scenic Lake Balboa area of The San Fernando Valley, Worldfest (www.worldfestevents.com) is a celebratory event aimed at helping people to learn about the things they can do to protect and preserve the Earth and its inhabitants. It’s fully solar-powered and celebrates the bounties of the Earth from music, to the environment, to people and animals. It is sponsored by a number of health-conscious and environmentally friendly companies, such as Save the Chimps, VegNews Magazine, and Green Planet Search.
At the event, the main stage features well-known bands and celebrity speakers, the Earth Lounge is a place to find talented singers/songwriters as well as world music groups and poets. The EcoTent features speakers, discussions, and displays about sustainable living and environmental issues. There are more than 100 companies that exhibit at the event and showcase their wares and proffer their messages. This is a great event for kids and you can take them over to Kids’ World for face painting, storytelling, and other activities.
The Beer and Wine Garden is a perfect place to slake your thirst and try out something new. There’s also a delicious food court where you can tempt your taste buds with something fresh and healthy. If you’re looking for a new addition to the family, animal adoptions will be held throughout the festival for cats, dogs, rabbits and other animals who are in need of a good home!
Worldfest is put on by Jill Hahn and Billy Hulting and they are committed to making a difference and creating a place where we live with greater respect for our environment and those around us. The event is just $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and 12 and under are free. Even your pet is welcome so bring him or her along for the day of fun!