The Hottest Annual Happenings In Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach & Redondo Beach
By Kevin Wilkerson, PubClub.com Beach Cities Blogger
The Fourth of July is house party heaven on the Hermosa Beach Strand.
And for the resst of the year, there are festivals, a parade, concerts and beer gardens. S
If Los Angeles is “La La Land,” then its South Bay Beach Cities of Hermosa, Manhattan and Redondo Beach must be Shangri-La.
One of the reasons – other than a dozen miles of super-wide beaches reaching out the Pacific Ocean, near year-round 75 degree sunny weather and great restaurants and nightlife – is an abundance of fun events that happen throughout the year. And most of them are free.
Here is a list of those events and dates for 2019, including Hermosa Beach’s St. Patrick’s Day parade and summer concerts, Fiesta Hermosa, the Manhattan Beach Old Hometown Fair and Holiday Fireworks, and fun party events like Smackfest, Surfest/6-man, the Ironman and the Fourth of July.
• SUPER BOWL 10K
Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 3, 7-11 a.m. (appx.)
King Harbor, Redondo Beach
Cheers are plentiful in the beer garden after the Super Bowl 10K.
Exercise and socialize.
That’s the theme of this race, which starts off with a costume contest and ends with the Michelob Ultra beer garden (yes, free beer!).
Nearly 10,000 people turn out for this annual event; run it and there are people as far as the eye can see up and down the length of the course. Houses along the route play music and cheer on runners, many of whom only get up this early on Super Bowl Sunday morning to get to the beer garden.
Usually, the beer garden is bathed in sunshine, and with a couple of thousand people, it’s likely it’s the biggest Super Bowl party the runners will attend all day.
In addition to the 10K, there’s a 5K and other races.
LINKS: Event Review 10K. Site: Redondo10k.com
• ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARADE
March 16, Saturday. 11 a.m.-1 p.m. (appx.)
Hermosa Beach Pier Ave, down to 8th & Hermosa Ave.
The parade has people waving and at one time the Bud hand beer cart team.
It’s so small and simple, it’s almost silly.
But that’s part of its charm.
On the Saturday before the rest of the country (and some parts of the world) go green, Hermosa Beach holds a St. Patrick’s Day parade. This is hardly something one would witness in New York, Chicago, Boston or Savannah. (hey, that little Southern town in Georgia comes alive for a massive St. Paddy’s celebration), but something one might expect to find in, say, Des Moines.
But Hermosa Beach is hardly Des Moines.
The parade participants include the fire department, a few bands from local junior high and high schools, cloggers that look as if Minnie Pearl may be among them, and assorted other individuals and groups. One local bar puts a band on a flatbed truck and once upon a time the always-entertaining Beach Cities Anheuser-Busch team came out as the comical “Budweiser hand beer cart team.”
Spectators line up along the street – three and four deep in some places– to watch the Irish shenanigans. After it’s over, those with strollers casually stroll to the restaurants or the Strand while the single people quickly stroll (hustle, really, because they don’t want to get stuck in a line) to St. Patrick’s theme parties at places like Sharkeez, Patrick Molloy’s and Hennessey’s, all on the Pier.
And St. Patrick’s Day is still a few days away. So that’s another day to party!
LINK: Event Review
• BEACH CITIES BEER & WINE FESTIVAL
Saturday, April 20
Seaside Lagoon, Redondo Beach
The newest fun party event in the South Bay, this event has more than 500 of the South Bay’s top singles drinking unlimited beers in an outdoor environment drinking dozens of craft beers, wines and spirits. Now in its fourth year, it is held at Seaside Lagoon and goes from 2:30-6:30 p.m.
• BEACHLIVE MUSIC FESTIVAL
BeachLife Festival Feb. May 3-5
Seaside Lagoon, Redondo Beach
Cost: $250 & Up
Inaugural event from the Saint Rocke owner bringing in big-time bands to the South Bay. Willie Nelson, Brian Wilson & Bob Weir, along with local band Barley and several others on three stages during three days. Food & drinks.
Link: Event Preview
• FIESTA HERMOSA
Memorial Day & Labor Day Weekends
Hermosa Beach Pier Plaza
Fiesta Hermosa packs Pier Plaza each Memorial and Labor Day weekend.
Locals from Hermosa, Manhattan and Redondo flock to this festival, which features several blocks of arts & crafts booths, a band at the pier and a beer garden.
It’s safe to say the latter is the main draw for this mainly singles community (there is often a line to get in on Saturday and Sunday afternoon). There are bands in the beer garden, which are usually rock covers.
The beer garden is strategically located next to the food court (grilled shrimp and tasty Mexican fare are among the selections). There is also a lively bar scene before, during and after the fair, for the main part of the event happens right in front of the establishments on Pier Ave.
This event has been going on for 38 years, so it’s got “legs” to it.
LINKS: Event Review.
• HERMOSA BEACH IRONMAN
July 4, 8-11 a.m. (appx.)
On the Beach, 26th Street, Hermsa Beach
While it looks positively insane, the Ironman is a fun way to start the Fourth.
Based, somewhat loosely, on the Ironman triathlon contest, the South Bay version involves running a mile, paddling a mile in the ocean and downing a six-pack of beer.
Then there’s a party with a band right on the beach.
Participants go straight from the water to the cooler and begin chugging. Some lose it. Spectators, which number a couple of hundred, gather around to cheer and laugh. Then a punk band – which a few times has been Pennywise from Hermosa Beach – starts a mosh pit circle. From a distance, it looks completely out of control, almost like a Rave. Up close, it’s just people acting goofy before a day of celebrating the Fourth of July.
In fact, it was somewhat comical to watch a fairly large force of Hermosa Beach policemen – some even on horseback – standing or sitting around last year with nothing to do because the well-mannered crowd gave them nothing to do. (And credit the cops for letting the people have their brief moment of fun.)
This is an unofficial event with no one stepping forward to claim to be the organizer. Somehow, it just seems to happen.
• FOURTH OF JULY
July 4 (and all weekend)
All up and down the Strand in Hermosa and Manhattan Beach
The lively South Bay Strand is one of the top 4th of July places in the USA.
Summertime finds the beach at its peak, and it reaches no higher pinnacle in the South Bay than on the Fourth of July.
Uncle Sam would be proud to see the way the patriots here celebrate the birthday of the USA.
The Strand, which is lively at all times of the year, explodes like a pyrotechnic display on this day. There are so many people in Hermosa is looks like the 405 on a holiday Friday (only the Strand is far more entertaining). Nearly every house has a party, some so large there are bands and multiple kegs.
It’s advisable to know – or try to get to know – someone at these parties in order to get invited to the bash. Unless, of course, one is a hot girl wearing a bikini the size of a sand grain.
There’s a similar, albeit much calmer, scene happening just to the north in Manhattan Beach.
Drinking on the Strand is not exactly encouraged on this day and those who have liquid encouragement beyond their brain’s capacity are likely to find themselves locked up like Benedict Arnold.
For the rest of the population, the Fourth of July in the South Bay is a joyful celebration.
At night, there are fireworks in Redondo Beach (Seaside Lagoon has an event with food and beer and bands for $18).
South Side of Hermoca Beach Pier
Cost: Free to Spectators
How to describe Smackfest?
Well, a warmup to Surfest/6-man would be appropriate. Except most of the party people are actual participants rather than spectators.
Okay, here’s the premise: Coed beach volleyball teams compete for the ultimate prize of, well, pride. Teams must show up in a costume of a similar theme and lost points can be won back by challenges often involving consumption of some type of adult beverage. Quite often, players make a mad dash to nearby Sharkeez for additional refreshments between games.
It’s truly the South Bay at its best: A California sport played on the beach mixed in with heavy socializing.
Put on by Smack Sportswear – the local king of beach volleyball apparel and all things beach volleyball for that matter – the 2017 tournament is the 24th annual event.
• BEACH VOLLEYBALL TOURNAMENTS
July 26-28 (Hermosa) & August 16-18 (Manhattan)
Hermosa Beach Pier, Manhattan Beach Pier
Pro beach volleyball tournaments are a huge part of the Beach Cities lifestyle.
A large part of the culture of the Beach Cities is beach volleyball and the two AVP Tour professional tournaments are always a big attraction among loca.s
In fact, the Manhattan Open is known by fans and players as the Wimbledon of Beach Volleyball. Even the finest players to have ever played the sport acknowledge they have achieved little until they have “won Manhattan.”
The AVP missed Hermosa for a few years but it’s back again for 2018.
South Side of Manhattan Beach Pier
Cost: Free to Spectators
The quintessential event in the South Bay – the one that showcases what life in these Beach Cities is all about – is the annual wacky Surfest (anchored by the wildly popular 6-man).
It features a sport practically unique to the area that was born on this very sand (beach volleyball), tremendous athletic ability in a very fun and adult setting (professional, Olympic and top current and former college players participate) and a sizzling social scene (both on the sand and at relentless house parties).
It’s babes in bikinis and boys in board shorts.
So what’s not to like, right!? Well, a recent Manhattan Beach police chief found something he doesn’t like so he led a charge to move the party off the beach by searching people for concealed alcohol.
But with an event like 6-man used to be – a huge beach party with teams of tents – you just can’t hit the delete button and expect it to disappear. It’s just now on Thursday and Friday and instead of Saturday and Sunday, and the party scene is primarily in Shellback Tavern rather than on the sand.
On the beach, the quality of play is incredible from pros, top college players and even former Olympians.
• CONCERTS ON THE BEACH
Sundays in August (Aug, 4, 11, 18 & 25), 5:30 p.m.-sunset
South Side of Hermoca Beach Pier
When a city’s biggest park is a beach, why not have a series of Sunday concerts on it?
It’s an idea that works, and on five Sunday evenings in the summer – late July into September – locals are treated to a free concert on the beach.
What it turns out to be is one huge picnic with people spreading out blankets and spreads of food and refreshments in groups of good friends. This is both a family and singles scene, one of the few times that these two groups find themselves sitting side-by-side at the same event. For both, it’s a great way to wrap up the weekend.
Bands are popular local ones, like Jerry Buck and the Bang or Shari Puroto as well as touring regional bands or legends.
• TRUMP NATIONAL WINE & BEER FESTIVAL
Sunday, Aug. 19, noon-4 p.m.
Trump National Golf Club, Palos Verdes
Cost: $85 for GA Tickets, $150 for VIP (two minimum)
This is just what the South Bay needs – a relatively high-end party at a jaw-dropping location that involves drinking wine and craft beers.
Girls put on their cutest sundresses, guys pull out their best Charlie Harper bowling shirt and they meet and mingle under the sunshine on the edge of a cliff.
The 2017 event is the 10th annual festival and it sells out often within hours when tickets go on sale in June. That’s because if you go once, you’ll go every year.
• ALPINE VILLAGE OKTOBERFEST
Sept. 7-Oct. 27
Alpine Village, Torrance
A big beer hall with German oompha band, big beers and long picnic tables. While this will hardly bring to mind the bierhalls in Munich, most of the South Bay singles go here at least one weekend night in September or October.
• OLD HOMETOWN FAIR
October 5-6 (first weekend of October)
Fair Oak Park, Valley/Ardmore, Manhattan Beach
The packed beer garden is the main attraction for many South Bay locals.
Did somebody say beer garden?
While the event’s name implies some type of festival in a small town in Kansas, nothing could be farther from the truth. This is the South Bay after all, and that means a beer garden surrounded by an arts & crafts fair.
To be fair, South Bay singles (as well as a pletha of former local party people who now push strollers instead of kegs), largely ignore the craft boots lined up on Valley/Ardmore and make a pilgrimage to the beer garden, like wild salmon returning to their spawning ground. That is where they remain for the day, if not for two days.
Many began the Fair by running in the 10K on Saturday morning. It goes through Manhattan Beach, including a couple of miles along the Strand, and finishes at the Pier. Right after crossing the finish line and getting a quick energy boost from a can of Monster, they then hit the legendary Shellback Tavern for beers and Bloody Marys.
Only then do they go to the beer garden.
• SOUTH BAY OKTOBERFEST CRAFT BEER TASTING
Bay Club Health Club, Redondo Beach
A wine & beer festival with an Oktoberfet theme. Put on by Smackfest Events & promoter Berry Bly. It’s the fall version of the highly successful Beach Cities Wine & Beer Festival held in May.
LINK: Event Review
• HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE
Wednesday, Nov. 13, 5-9 p.m.
Downtown Manhattan Beach & North Manhattan
The Holiday spirit arrives in the South Bay when businesses in downtown Manhattan Beach and North Manhattan Beach (longtime locals prefer to refer to the latter as El Porto) open thier doors after normal closing hours to offer specials and refreshments.
Basically, people stroll from shop to shop not only to browse but also to consume. And what they consume ranges from small snacks to nibbles from local restaurants to adult beverages.
There are actually two events; the one downtown is by far the biggest. In fact, the city even blocks off part of Manhattan Ave., for a band and strolling without having to worry about dodging vehicles.
Just be sure and finish any adult beverages in the stores and don’t take them onto the street. Manhattan Beach Police officers are a bit of a Scrooge to shop owners when this occurs.
When the event ends, all the single people head for the bars, which do a brisk business before and after Holiday Open House in both locations.
LINKS: Event Review
• 12 BARS OF CHRISTMAS
Dec. 6 (second Sunday of the month), 5-8 p.m.
Hermosa Beach Pier
Yep, 12 bars, all in one night. You get a lanyard from organizer Nick (easy to spot, all the hotties are always around him) and go to the bars on and around Pier Plaza. Don’t plan on waking up early the next day.
• MANHATTAN BEACH HOLIDAY FIREWORKS
Dec. 8 (second Sunday of the month), 5-8 p.m.
Manhattan Beach Pier
The year’s last big event is the hugely popular Holiday Fireworks..
What little Manhattan Beach takes away for Surfest/6-man, it gives back for the annual Holiday Fireworks show.
Several years ago, city officials considered having a Fourth of July fireworks show. But with ones in neighboring Redondo and Marina del Rey, they came up with a brilliant idea: Have fireworks in December instead of July.
It has been an outstanding success and it’s one of the city’s top events. Some 5,000 people – perhaps more – come out and fill the Strand, sand and street, several bringing beach towels and chairs to sit right on Manhattan Beach Blvd. House parties explode throughout the city as rapidly as the fireworks and help decorate the scene.
The fireworks show is one of the best anyone will see anywhere. It’s dynamic and set to Holiday music. The performance is worthy of being in New York City on New Year’s Eve.
Needless to say, the area’s single people love it, for they fill up the house parties and bars well past the grand finale.