One of the Best Concert Venues in the World
It’s not the first thing you think of when coming to Hollywood – a concert venue. Movie- and celebrity-themed attractions always trumps on the tourist trail, but lurking a stones throw behind the famous Kodak Theatre and Mann’s Chinese is what I think may just be one of the best musical venues in the world.
Nestled among the famous Hollywood Hills, the Hollywood Bowl is the largest natural amphitheater in the United States, and is unique for many reasons. It is hands-down one of my favorite evening activities in LA. There is no one thing that makes it special in my books, rather, it’s the synergy and combination of the details.
For a start, the Bowl attracts the world’s best musical artists. Not simply the most popular; the line-up regularly includes artists in the category of ‘legendary’ and amongst all genres. I personally have seen BB King, Sting, and Aretha Franklin, along with other niche favorites like The Swell Season and Rodrigo Y Gabriela.
Last night I was treated to a tribute to Ray Charles by such artists as Martina McBride, Babyface, and BeBe Winans accompanied by the Count Basie Orchestra. The schedule is varied though, with shows to suit all tastes – classical concerts with the LA Phil; maestro of movie-music John Williams, and even visual treats such as Frozen Planet or Pixar compilations set to a big-band score.
Furthermore, the magic only happens during the summer months, so Angelenos anticipate the schedule and pack the outings in when they can. It’s more than just the music though. What makes the Hollywood Bowl so special is the ability to enjoy the whole experience. You can arrive early, with your own picnic, and take advantage of the various spots to eat around the venue.
There are a number of reasonable bars, or most nights you can bring your own drinks, and it really is the perfect environment to crack open that special bottle of champagne. If you are going gourmet, the on-site catering from Patina Restaurant Group offers a range of exceptional and simple picnic baskets, dinners, and sushi platters that allow you to focus just on having a good time.
There is really not a bad seat in the house, and there are always affordable tickets, sometimes even starting as low as $1! The Bowl offers bench seating towards the rear half, with boxes and table seats towards the front, although my personal favorite seats are slap bang in the middle – I find that it offers the best experience of sound and sight. Since you are in an outdoor bowl, getting the acoustics just right, mixed with the overall picture of the luminous stage set against the canyon background is part of the magic, specially when after-show fireworks light up the Hollywood sky.
After all that fun, food and drink, the bars and clubs of Hollywood Boulevard are only a short walk or taxi ride away, and to continue the fun I wholeheartedly recommend not driving. That way, you can enjoy the wine,and not spend the rest of your night in a traffic line leaving the parking lot.
Awesome for a date, for a group of friends, or a work night out – a trip to the Hollywood Bowl is on my must-list for Los Angeles.