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SUMMER: Sawdust Art Festival, Laguna Beach

Location: Laguna Beach: 935 Laguna Canyon Road
When: Summer only! 2013 dates: June 28 – Sept. 1. 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily
Cost: $7.75 adult day pass, $6.25 senior day pass, $3.25 children 6-12, children 5 and under admitted free. Season passes are also available for $15 per person, and annual passes (includes the winter festival) are available for $20 per person.
Special deals: Laguna Beach residents get free admission (with ID) Thursday evenings after 5 p.m. and first Fridays of each month (all day)! New: Residents of all other Orange County cities now have “free nights” too! Find yours at the Sawdust website here.
For ages: All

Sawdust truly covers the ground at this special outdoor summer festival, held in Orange County now for more than 40 years.

So why the sawdust? … 

Legend has it that — as the festival began in the mid-60s, on various sites in Laguna canyon near the edge of the road – the handful of participating artists tossed sawdust on the ground to keep the dirt from flying up and ruining their paintings.

Although the show is no longer held on the side of the road (and is now home to more than 200 local artists, set up in rows and rows of booths among canyon trees), the festival maintains the sawdust tradition. All artists are local, and they represent an amazing array of disciplines: glassblowers, jewelry-makers, illustrators, mosaic-layers, photographers, painters, fountain designers, and many, many more. The artists build their own booths, and often man them during the festival, so you can meet and ask about their arts and crafts for sale before you buy (and often get signatures, to make your piece truly unique).

The Sawdust Festival is a casual, fun way to introduce your kids to art.

The mood is fun and celebratory: Music fills the air, a popcorn scent wafts through the three-acre eucalyptus grove, and country singers and bluegrass bands keep things lively. Outdoor cafes offer plenty of refreshments, and your kids will love watching the magicians, jugglers and belly dancers that perform throughout the show’s 8-week run.

Little ones might mostly enjoy the festival snacks, treats, and live entertainment!

Visitors can watch artist demonstrations or participate in “hands on” mini classes. Be sure to stop by the huge glassblowers’ kiln to watch the free demonstrations of fire and glass. And try to catch a place in line at the make-your-own ceramics booth to throw a pot and create a great souvenir of a fun day.

There are two other art festivals going on nearby, if you want to walk along the sidewalk and make the whole day an art day: the Art-A-Fair and the Festival of Arts.

Where to park: Street parking along the canyon roads are metered near the festival grounds (cash machines are available to get meter money). Parking gets pretty crazy on the weekends. Weekdays are a little easier. Further inland along Laguna Canyon Road, you can park in free lots and take the Laguna trolley to the festivals.

What to bring: Strollers are welcome, but will have a lot of difficulty here due to the sawdust – for babies, a baby carrier works better. Bring sunscreen and hats; bottled water. Refreshments are available on the grounds.

For more information: 949-494-3030 or the Sawdust Festival website

Do you go to the Sawdust Festival every summer? Have any fun tips to share?

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4 Comments

  1. You actually produced quite a few excellent tips in ur
    article, “SUMMER: Sawdust Art Festival, Laguna Beach | Things to do in Orange County”.

    I may wind up coming back again to ur website in the near future.
    Thanks a lot ,Katherina

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