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Pageant of the Masters returning to Laguna Beach following 2020 postponement

By Medicine Man Gallery on


Pageant of the Masters

Pageant of the Masters / Festival of Arts Entrance

“Unique” has become a greatly overused word. Inaccurately used, also. Events are described as “so unique” and “very unique.” Experiences promoted as “really unique” or “truly unique.”


Something is either unique – one of a kind – or it is not, and most are not.


The Pageant of the Masters is unique. 


After a one-year COVID-19 absence, The Pageant of the Masters returns to Laguna Beach, California July 7 – September 3. The nightly performance features elaborate set designs and costumed actors portraying figures in famous images from art history – “living tableaus” as they’re known.


Nothing else like it exists.


Prior to last year, the Pageant had only gone dark from 1942 to 1945, during World War II. Its history traces back to Laguna Beach's early days as an art colony, starting in 1933 as a way to draw tourists. 


For this year’s edition, “Made in America: Trailblazing Artists and Their Stories,” featured artists include Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt, Norman Rockwell, Daniel Chester French and Luis Jimenez.


“I'm especially pleased about two of the segments,” long-standing Pageant Director Diane Challis Davy said. “One is a tribute to the inspiring story of African American sculptor Edmonia Lewis. The other is our recreation of a photo by Dorothea Lange (Family on Road) accompanied by two songs written by Woody Guthrie. The photo illustrates the heartache of the Great Depression and our tableau is followed by the re-creation of a brightly colored WPA mural that celebrates the resiliency of the American 'can-do' spirit.”


Iconic Native American artist John Nieto will also be highlighted.


“We are featuring his self-portrait in a very interesting video/live-action sequence,” Davy said. “A selection of his dancers: Buffalo dancers, Hoop Dancers and Fancy Dancers.

The finale of the series is his painting of a man and an American Flag.”


Pageant of the Masters living painting

Pageant of the Masters Living Painting

Pageant of the Masters: Behind the Scenes


Approximately 500 volunteers are either cast into the show or fill behind-the-scenes roles at Pageant of the Masters. All told, they contribute over 60,000 hours to the performance.

Seventy volunteer makeup artists are coordinated by a makeup director. A costume director oversees a team of stitchers.

It can take upwards of an hour to prep cast members into full makeup and costume for a living picture.

As for what the audience sees, how does Davy decide which artworks to feature?

Pageant of the Masters 2

Pageant of the Masters Behind the Scenes


“The theme must be broad enough to encompass many different artworks and media. I think to some degree the process is ineffable in that one who follows art and pop culture must have a sense of what is currently of interest to the majority of people,” Davy said. “Months before the show I create a storyboard, not unlike what you would have for a film, except it is made up entirely of works of art. Music is an important element to consider and I love to commission music that is completely original and music well known to the audience.”


As always, the night ends with the Pageant’s recreation of “The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci, which has been the traditional closing tableau since 1936.

Tickets to this summer’s production start at $30 per person at or by calling 800-487-3378.


The Festival of Arts of Laguna Beach Fine Art Show


Established in 1932, the Festival of Arts has produced two world-class events: The Pageant of the Masters and the Festival of Arts Fine Art Show. Together, both shows attract more than 225,000 visitors to Laguna Beach annually.


A Pageant ticket also serves as season pass to the 2021 Festival of Arts Fine Art Show, taking place July 5 – September 3. 


As one of the nation’s oldest and most highly acclaimed juried fine arts shows, the Festival of Arts Fine Art Show offers avid art collectors and festival goers an outstanding variety of fine art to browse and purchase. The 2021 Fine Art Show will showcase 100-plus artists who were juried into the 2020 art exhibit, but unable to display their work last summer. 


Guests immerse themselves in the beautiful outdoor venue with a wide variety of media to appreciate including paintings, photography, printmaking, sculpture, jewelry, handcrafted wood and furniture, ceramics, glass and more. For a full list of the 2021 participating artists, visit


In addition to featuring work from top artists in Southern California, the 2021 Fine Art Show will have art demonstrations, live music performances, opportunities to meet the artists and more. The calendar includes guided art tours, special events and weekly series including Concerts on the Green and Art, Jazz, Wine, and Chocolate, 


Festival of Arts Laguna Beach

Festival of Arts Interior

Specialty events:


Art, Jazz, Wine and Chocolate: Thursdays, July 8 – September 2, 5:30pm ($20 additional fee for tastings.


Friday Favorites Music Series: Fridays, July 9 – August 27, 5:30pm


Concerts on the Green: Saturdays, July 10 – August 21, 1pm


Tremendous Tributes Music Series: July 10 – August 21, 5:30pm


Art Tours: Free art tours are held weekdays at 4:30pm, Saturdays at 11:30 and 4pm and Sundays at 11:30am. Meet the artists and learn firsthand about their techniques through discussions and artists demonstrations.


General Festival Information



July 5 – September 3, 2021

Open weekdays: 4pm – 11:30pm

Open weekends: 10am – 11:30pm

Early closing August 28 at 1pm



General Admission: Weekdays $10, Weekends $15

Students & Seniors: Weekdays $7, Weekends $11

Children 6 – 12: Daily $5

Free Admission for Children 5 and under, Military, and Laguna Beach Residents.


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