Top 5 Things to Do in L.A. This Week

An arbol de vida (tree of life) altar at Hollywood Forever's Day of the Dead celebration

Even without autumnal signifiers like changing leaves and truly cold weather (or perhaps because of their absence), Halloween is a big deal in Los Angeles. West Hollywood's annual Halloween Carnaval, for example, ranks as the second largest event by attendance in the L.A. area, behind only the Rose Parade. Dia de Los Muertos, the Mexican Day of the Dead holiday, is no afterthought either, inspiring traditional celebrations such as those at Hollywood Forever and even a hip dance-music festival downtown. Also this week are a 40th anniversary discussion of Erica Jong's novel "Fear of Flying" and a screening of a new restoration of the James Dean film "Rebel Without a Cause."

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An Evening with Erica Jong at New Roads School | Event details
Four decades ago, long before such sexually frank female characters as "Sex and the City's" Carrie Bradshaw, "Girls'" Hannah Horvath and "Fifty Shades of Grey's" Anastasia Steele, Erica Jong introduced the world to Isadora Wing, the uninhibited protagonist of "Fear of Flying." This Wednesday evening, Jong visits Live Talks Los Angeles to mark the 40th anniversary of her breakthrough novel, which ignited national discussion and debate about women, sex and feminism (and gave the English language a notorious new phrase). She will be joined in conversation by the author and New Yorker contributor Susan Orlean.

West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval on Santa Monica Blvd. | Event details
Billed as "the largest Halloween street party in the world," West Hollywood's Halloween Carnaval draws hundreds of thousands of costumed revelers every year, who flood Santa Monica Blvd. and flock to multiple outdoor performance stages. This year's theme, One Noir Night in West Hollywood, celebrates the city's hardboiled history as a place where private eyes, crooked cops, femmes fatales and ruthless gangsters plied their trades. West Hollywood, after all, is where Humphrey Bogart got caught up in "The Big Sleep," where William Holden stopped for cigarettes in "Sunset Boulevard" and where Guy Pearce inadvertantly insulted Lana Turner in "L.A. Confidential." A note to party people: The Carnaval is an all-ages event and doesn't serve alcohol, but plenty of bars and clubs along Santa Monica will be hosting Halloween parties and pouring the strong stuff.

"Rebel Without a Cause" World Restoration Premiere at LACMA | Event details
Although Martin Scorsese is best known as the Oscar-winning director of such films as "Taxi Driver," "Raging Bull," "Goodfellas" and "The Departed," he is also a passionate film preservationist who in 1990 established the nonprofit Film Foundation to help safeguard cinematic history. On Friday evening, Scorsese will introduce the world premiere of a new 4K digital restoration of "Rebel Without a Cause," the 1955 drama that captured a zeitgeist of teenage angst and solidified the legacy of James Dean, who died in a car crash weeks before the film opened.

Dia de los Muertos at Hollywood Forever Cemetery | Event details
Combining ancient traditions and contemporary customs, this 14th annual Day of the Dead celebration pays respects to beloved ancestors, family and friends with a day of music, art, food and rituals. This year's theme is The Magical World of Alebrijes, referring to the brightly colored folk-art sculptures of fantastical creatures popular in Oaxacan culture. The festivities will include music by Saul Hernandez, Ceci Bastida and Buyepongo; hundreds of Aztec dancers in full dress; a traditional procession; more than 100 meticulously crafted shrines and altars; a costume contest for the best-dressed calaca (skeleton); and more.

Hard Day of the Dead Music Festival at L.A. State Historic Park | Event details
Think of this two-day music fest as Hard Summer's spooky evil twin. A host of DJs, electronic musicians and rock bands headlined by Skrillex, Nero, Boys Noize, Zeds Dead, Deadmau5, Calvin Harris and Pretty Lights will provide a pulsing soundtrack for the dance-happy crowds filling L.A. State Historic Park's 32 acres. Just in case this Day of the Dead proves unseasonably warm -- this is the Southland, after all -- there will be shade tents and a beer garden.

For more options this week and every week, go to kcet.org/events.

About the Author

Oliver Gettell is a writer and editor based in Los Angeles.

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