Although it takes place at the Orange County Fair and Event Center, the Anatolian Cultures & Food Festival actually exists at the nexus of thousands of years of Anatolian history. That's the way it feels, at least. Upon arrival, guests begin this trek through time at the Gates of Civilizations, whose waypoints honor 14 historic and present-day nations ranging from the mighty Hittite Empire to the modern Turkish Republic. Towering, ornate arches and a staff of highly knowledgeable costumed actors guide them through this journey, sharing the traditional dress and customs of bygone regional residents including the Ottomans, Romans, Phrygians, and Byzantines.
Once inside, guests can extend their explorations within stunning recreations of nine different Anatolian cities, grabbing lifelike views of everything from the Topkapi Palace—once occupied by Ottoman sultans—or the Armenian Cathedral of the Holy Cross, the ancient seat of the Armenian Orthodox patriarch. Along the way, they can stop for souvenirs at the bustling Grand Bazaar, where more than 100 vendor hawk traditional Near Eastern good. A traditional Turkish coffeehouse also occupies part of the festival grounds, tempting guests with cups of rich Turkish coffee that par well with the kebabs, stews, and baked goods prepared by the festival’s food vendors.
Facilitating the fan-delighting collision of comic-book universes and intergalactic heroes, Wizard World organizes Comic Cons and pop-culture conventions across the continent. At each event, stars from the silver screen set down roots in booths across the convention floor, wielding markers for autographs and their photo-op-ready smiles. Past guests have run the gamut from William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, and the cast of AMC?s The Walking Dead. Away from the crowds, stars also participate in talks and Q&A panels as part of the event?s programming. Along with beloved actors, Wizard World?s conventions grant guests a chance to interact with writers and artists as well as partake in activities such as gaming tournaments and costume contests.
Festival of Arts of Laguna Beach has showcased the paintings, sculptures, and creations of local artists in an outdoor gallery alongside hands-on workshops and live music shows for more than 80 years. A carefully curated bumper crop of local artwork from 140 artists brightens gallery walls in a spectrum of styles, from romantic gemstone jewelry and modern abstract painting to sculptures that seem to defy the rules of physics.
Mere blocks from the ocean, the exhibits ring a spacious lawn, which brims with spectators for the festival's many events, including live jazz concerts, eco-friendly fashion shows, and live cooking demonstrations. During workshops, those spectators become artists themselves, stretching fingers into paint, pressing prints, molding clay, and post-modernly trying to eat bottles of glitter.
A summer staple of Laguna Beach since 1966, Art-A-Fair corrals creative works from around the world, unfurling them across the apropos, color-splashed gardens of Laguna Canyon. Festival visitors meander leisurely through the web of imagination, stopping to soak up content that is as rich in quality as it is in diversity. Between brush strokes and spontaneous games of frisbee with their palette, working artists take a breather to chat about their pieces and the inspirations that drive their craft. From year to year, the festival features a wide spectrum of 2- and 3-D art, and, should one of those gems seduce the heart of a passerby, everything at the festival is available for purchase.
True to its name, Ribs, Pigs & Watermelons is a food festival and pro competition that celebrates barbecued meats and the refreshing pink fruit in equal measure. Under a main tent at Huntington State Beach, watermelon is used in watermelon-carving demonstrations and seed-spitting contests. Meanwhile, more than 50 culinary teams from around the country?and a few from the show BBQ Pitmasters, as well as states such as Iowa, Kansas, Nevada, and California?clash on the grills. Each prepares their best takes on chicken, pork, and brisket, which are then judged throughout the weekend by professionals and lions disguised as humans. More than a dozen small-lot craft beers provide ideal pairings for these meats, and an outdoor stage encourages guests to dance off the grub with live performances by Maureen and the Mercury 5, Lil' Mo, the Dynaflos, and other artists. In the end, all of this revelry is for a good cause?all proceeds go to support programs that benefit the city's homeless.
On September 21, a dragon boat ceremony set to the thumping percussion of taiko drums kicks off the 2013 Asian Pacific Festival of Arts & Music By the Sea, a two-day affair brimming with cross-cultural peace and understanding. Stocked with cultural exhibits, eating contests, and opportunities for horizon broadening, this year's festival theme, “Reflection Through a Shining Community,” honors the rich heritage and many successes of immigrant populations hailing from all Asian countries. While visitors sample delicious cuisine and lend their ears to native music, a number of programs will compete for attention, including fashion shows, a kids' area, a hip-hop dance competition, and muay thai boxing demonstrations.