Must-Visit Events in Long Beach, California

Long Beach's Grand Prix is officially the longest-running major street race in North America
Long Beach's Grand Prix is officially the longest-running major street race in North America | © Brian Green / Alamy Stock Photo
California is known to have some of the best events in the country, and the city of Long Beach is no exception. With annual highlights including a jazz festival, a grand prix and even a pirate invasion, there’s no shortage of excellent events to look out for. Culture Trip’s expert local guide highlights the events you should mark down in your calendar.

Love Long Beach Festival

Now in its seventh year, the annual Love Long Beach Festival is a hub for dance fans around the country. Taking place over a weekend in July, the festival has plenty on offer for guests of all ages, with meditation, food trucks and arts and crafts all available to its guests. On top of that, the festival itself hosts some of the biggest dance acts in the world, with the likes of Dela Moon, Dave DK and Tara Brooks all making appearances in recent years.

Pirate Invasion

Supposedly the largest pirate and mermaid festival in California, this two-day bonanza every June is a must for any scallywags and bilge rats. With up to 10,000 fully clad pirates descending on the Lighthouse Peninsula just off the waterfront, the festival is a celebration of all things “arrggh” and it’s worth popping along just for the spectacle. With events running throughout the two days, including treasure hunts, sword fights and live bands performing ye old sea shanties, it’ll be unlike anything you’ve seen before.

Grand Prix of Long Beach

One of the biggest events in the Long Beach calendar, the Grand Prix is a must visit for anyone heading to the city. Officially the longest-running major street race in North America, the grand prix is a two-day extravaganza that’s sure to get the blood pumping. Outside of the racing, there are family fun zones with rock climbing, VR driving experiences and live music running throughout the event. The next event is scheduled for April 16-28 2021.

Catalina Ski Race

Considered one of the best water ski races in the world, the 70-year-old competition is attended by contenders from around the world. Starting every July from Long Beach, the 62-mi (100-km) round trip takes place over open ocean, reaching Catalina Island before finishing back in Long Beach. For the best views of the race, head to the top deck of the Queen Mary for the best chance to see both the start and the dramatic finish.

POW WOW Long Beach!

Part of the worldwide POW WOW! series of art events, POW WOW Long Beach! is a summer celebration of the city’s best street art. Featuring the best local contemporary art through Long Beach’s many impressive murals, the festival also has a number of multimedia exhibits for guests to soak up. A must for any art lover, the festival attracts visitors from across the California area.

Long Beach Jazz Festival

Staged along Long Beach’s waterfront, the Long Beach Jazz Festival plays host to a wide range of musical stylings, from classic R&B to experimental jazz. Held annually over three days in August, with a line-up including the top jazz artists from around the country, it is a great event for music lovers visiting the area. If you’re looking for a little more relaxation along with the music, the festival now features a wellness pavilion for you to focus on some much-needed headspace.