Why yes, yes Los Angeles has a ukulele festival! Celebrating the small four-stringed wonder – the Ukulele – which has been captivating hearts and bringing musical joy into people’s lives for over 100 years, the Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival presented by Kala Koa Entertainment, returns the weekend of September 23-24, 2023, at the Torrance Cultural Arts Center. An exciting weekend dedicated to exploring the musical versatility of the ukulele for the experienced ukulele player, the occasional strummer, or simply the curious spectator. This unique, family-friendly festival includes workshops for all levels of playing ability to work on technique or simply learn to play and enjoy live all-star performances by some of today’s most popular ukulele players.
The Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival takes place from 9:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 23 and on Sunday, September 24 from 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. featuring unlimited access to workshops for all levels, live performances throughout the day, strum-alongs and presentations, ukulele marketplace, food, and, of course, shave ice. In addition and in conjunction with the Ukulele Festival, on Sunday, September 24 at 2:00 p.m. at the James Armstrong Theatre, the Torrance Cultural Arts Foundation (TOCA) presents a live concert featuring NUE – a trio of ukulele musicians from Hawaii (separately ticketed – https://torrancearts.org/show/nue-na-ukulele-ekolu/).
This year, there will be Free classes for absolute beginners in the Nakano Theatre all day Saturday, along with demonstrations and prizes. Seats are first come, first served; attendees must bring their own ukulele (A variety of entry-level instruments will be available for sale as well).
The 2023 Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival also hosts a UkuleleMarketplace, located in the entry plaza of the Torrance Cultural Arts Center. Free and open to the public, attendees can browse boutique Ukulele builders, entry level and budget friendly instruments, fun accessories and ukuleles handcrafted in Hawaii, as well as open mic performances. In addition, authentic island style shave ice and food is available for purchase, round out the festival activities.
Ukulele Artists and Workshop Instructors include: Hawaii artists Abe Lagrimas Jr.; Corey Fujimoto; Kalei Gamiao; Craig Chee; Mika Kane; Sarah Maisel; from Wisconsin, Lil Rev and Katie DeNure; from Italy, Ukulollo; from Brazil, Jenifer Cabrera; from Chicago, Abby Lyons; from Canada, Peter Luongo; along with San Diego-based musician Anthony Stanley; Bay Area-based Ukulenny; Los Angeles teacher Melanie Kareem; and festival producer Mitch Chang.
Sponsors of the Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival include Mitch Chang Mortgage, Carta Coffee, Ohana Ukuleles, Anuenue Ukuleles, Kala Ukuleles, Flight Ukuleles, Kanilea Ukuleles, Hawaiian Island Creations, and Raynbow Creations.
WHO, WHEN, WHERE, TICKETS:
– Saturday day-long Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival, September 23; 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. (doors open at 8:30 a.m.); Torrance Cultural Arts Center; 3330 Civic Center Drive, Torrance, CA 90503
All Access Entry (includes unlimited access to Workshops & Performances): $47; $20 students with ID at the door; free for kids 12 & under.
Free Beginner Classes (Nakano Theatre at the Torrance Arts Center) *Does not include entry into main festival event: FREE beginner classes & demonstrations throughout the day on Saturday. No admission required but seating is first come, first served. Bring your ukulele; if you don’t have one, there will be a variety of entry-level friendly instruments available for purchase. There will be prize giveaways as well.
– Sunday, September 24; 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. The Festival continues with more workshops and performances; $27
– Sunday, September 24; 2 p.m. NUE in concert at the James Armstrong Theatre -a trio of ukulele musicians from Hawaii (separately ticketed), presented by the Torrance Cultural Arts Foundation; $25-$150