I finally got to cross off a major item on my Los Angeles bucket list, and visit the Hollywood Bowl this past weekend. I have wanted to attend the Hollywood Bowl for a while and would have been happy with any show or even a Harry Potter movie night at this point (which I still might attend this summer). Instead, for my first Bowl visit, I attended the opening night for the 2019 summer season which included the Hollywood Bowl orchestra, fireworks, a special performance by Common, and John Legend.
Here are a few things to know for attending the Hollywood Bowl:
- You can bring food and alcohol into the venue! This makes the Bowl a very unique concert venue since you can bring in your own stuff. They sometimes have restrictions on shows that are “renting” the venue, but besides that you can bring in anything as long as it will then fit under your seat during the performances. They do offer (overpriced) food at the stadium and have a “food and wine” program, but to me it just looks like a tiny picnic in a box. We took advantage and brought a cheese-plate, chips and dips, and lots of other snacks and drinks for the evening.
- There is a variety of seating at the bowl, depending on obviously your price range, but also the experience you are looking for. If you are on a budget or going for the regular concert experience than the concrete benches are for you. Note that they are literally concrete, but you can rent cushions. I call these the up close and personal seats as most likely someone in your group will be touching shoulders with a stranger.
- If you have a little more cash to spend and want the full summer evening at the Hollywood Bowl experience, then a box seat is the way to go. As someone with major claustrophobia, the boxes are very tight and weirdly only have one tiny exit and entrance which can be awkward when sharing the box with strangers, but if you buy a box with four people, it is the perfect setup. Each set of 2 chairs has its own table for eating beforehand, and then the tables can be removed when the show starts. Terrace and garden boxes seem to have major price differences, even though the distance from the stage is not too different unless you are basically in the front row. Plus the terrace boxes have the best views for fireworks!
- The orchestra adds such a nice touch to the different events they have. They played a handful of classical songs by themself at the beginning of the night, and then accompanied John Legend for the second half. Listening to John Legend’s songs with a live orchestra is pretty amazing.
- The two best options for parking at the Bowl is to either use their park and ride program, which books up quickly, or to use an app like SpotHero and park blocks from the venue. Bowl parking is stacked, which means you could be waiting for hours to get your car out of there, and the traffic at the end of the night is brutal. If you do want to Uber/Lyft, then you will most likely need to walk a few blocks away from the venue to pick up a ride.
- All Hollywood Bowl tickets say rain or shine, and they truly mean rain or shine. There are no coverings at the Bowl ,so if there is rainy weather foretasted for your evening make sure to bring ponchos.
- Overall, the shows at the Hollywood Bowl are tailored as more gentle concerts, with performers such as Lionel Richie and Tony Bennett, plenty of classical music, a summer jazz night, live performance of Into the Woods, and tributes to the music of cinema scheduled for the summer.
Keep in mind the Bowl stretches pretty far back if you are interested in buying the seats highest up in the venue.The stage changed colors and images as John Legend performed each song.When Common surprised everyone and joined John Legend on stage for the last performance of the night, their song “Glory.” I do not know why, but the thought of Common hanging out backstage for the entire night and then only performing for about 2 minutes at the end makes me laugh.The fireworks at the Bowl are pretty spectacular. I am sure their 4th of July show includes top notch fireworks.