Laguna Beach

Our State's ‘Still'-est Spectacular Opens

Pageant of the Masters prepares for its two-month run by, wait for it, standing in place.

Pageant of the Masters

What to Know

  • Laguna Beach
  • July 7 through Sept. 2, 2022, 8:30 p.m. nightly
  • People pose inside "living pictures" at the Irvine Bowl, an outdoor amphitheater

If you made plans over the holiday weekend to take it a bit easier, to relax more, to lounge a little, and to ultimately say "no" to the go, go, go, chances are as good as a firework is bright that you found yourself running hither and yon.

Now some real keep-it-slow inspiration is on its whimsical way, in Laguna Beach: Pageant of the Masters, the stand-still-iest spectacular in all the land.

Of course, creating a world-famous "tableaux vivant" show takes plenty of moving, prepping, planning, and hard work, but that's all leading up to the surreal sight that people have loved for nearly nine decades: Beautifully costumed people posing "inside" iconic paintings and sculptures, for several (mostly) unblinking minutes.

These oversized "paintings" can create true trompe-l'oeil illusions, or at least the sense that you're seeing oils and watercolors, and not actual humans in creatively imagined cosmetics and costumes.

So beloved is this airy extravaganza — it grandly unfurls in an outdoor amphitheater, adding to its ageless aura — that it runs nightly for nearly two months, all to give fans from near and far the singular pleasure of watching people summon the spirit of the masterpieces we all know and the paintings we should.

It opens on July 7, closes on Sept. 2, and takes place next to its well-known neighbor, the Festival of Arts. This is where you can see physical paintings, artworks on canvas, just outside the doors to the amphitheater.

Call it a heady one-two delight, beholding paintings that can be displayed on walls followed by paintings filled with real people.

The theme of the 2022 pageant? It's "Wonderful World," so plan on admiring plenty of imagery that celebrates adventure, travel, and globetrotting.

Prepare to call upon "17 countries in 90 minutes" during the show, which includes stirring narration and music.

Tickets? They start at $30, and the rows near the stage do fill up (perhaps it is the thrill of seeing a figure in a painting blink).

But consider this: Even attendees in the seats closer to the back of the amphitheater are treated to something special, for that's where the "this is a real painting" illusion seems to truly take hold.

All of the information you'll need to attend both the Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters, Laguna Beach's celebrated summertime stalwarts? Don't hold still: Best visit this site pronto.

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