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Magical Pageant of the Masters

Every summer thousands of tourists come from all parts of the world to enjoy Southern California weather. One of the must see summer events takes place in Laguna Beach; a beautiful colony devoted to producing, conserving and selling art. It is a significantly creative art experience like no other, so unique that it may take ones breath away! Since 1933 Laguna Beach has held the Pageant of the Masters, an event which is known for its tableaux vivants or “living pictures.” Classical and contemporary works of art are recreated by real people who wear extravagant costumes, makeup, headdresses and whatever else is needed to recreate a nearly identical image to the original painting or sculpture. Even more impressive is the huge scale of these works of living art. Each year the pageant picks a theme and then begins to prep 6 months in advance for the unveiling. This year’s theme is “The Art Detective” which centers around art pieces which were stolen and recovered, some of which are still missing, others destroyed by the Nazis during WWII.

The Pageant is held eight weeks each summer and consists of 90 minutes of “living pictures” accompanied by a professional narrator, an orchestra and period songs. It is held in Laguna Canyon at an outdoor amphitheatre. One of the most amazing facets of the pageant is its nonprofit status, which allows a small paid staff and depends on several hundred volunteers from all over Southern California. It takes over 60,000 volunteer hours to produce this two month extravaganza. Production begins the first of each new year with auditions and casting of volunteers. It requires a strong commitment from all of those involved, including arriving early and staying late. To reduce the stress on each individual volunteer, the Pageant selects two full casts known as the Blue and Green groups, which alternate night after night.

Tickets to the Pageant are purchased well in advance and vary in price from $15 to $220. It starts at 8:30 PM to insure the sun has set and runs daily until August 30th. It is very important to allow plenty of time for this special occasion as Laguna Beach is crowded during the summer months. There are several events going on in the canyon so plan on getting there early and come prepared with opera or field glasses. There are so many clever particulars in the recreation of the artwork that field glasses come in handy to appreciate the many details. Concession stands are located just outside the amphitheatre, and it is fine to bring food, including ice cream back to your seat, located under the stars. A handy tram takes visitors up and down Laguna Canyon Road and will drop off and pick up those who use this service. The Pageant of the Masters is located at 650 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, California. They can be reached at 949-494-1145 or 800 739-0339 and This astounding experience hosts more than a quarter million people each year and should not be missed! Come and enjoy this beautifully unique event. It is so worth the trip!

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