In Los Angeles, it all comes back to water. This week marks the 100th anniversary of the opening of the L.A. Aqueduct, a controversial but undeniably successful engineering feat that shaped the Southland forever. The moment when DWP chief William Mulholland first heralded its activation in some ways marked the beginning of Los Angeles as we know it, a city of infinite possibilities. These days, this week, L.A. is a place where one can ice skate blocks from the beach, a place where the dream factory that is the movie business was born and still reigns, a place where art and culture -- homegrown and imported -- thrive in so many corners.
Ice at Santa Monica | Event details
A beachside town might seem to be an unlikely candidate for a winter wonderland, but each year Santa Monica's Winterlit celebration delivers a hefty dose of holiday cheer. The festivities kick off with the grand opening of Ice, an 8,000-square-foot outdoor ice rink illuminated by twinkling lights. Champion figure skater Randy Gardner will host the opening, featuring performances by the synchronized skate team California Gold as well as other elite skaters. There will also by music by DJ Dlux, tastings from local restaurants, a self-snap photo booth, and arts and crafts activities. The rink is open daily through Jan. 20.
L.A. Aqueduct Centennial at LADWP, Natural History Museum | DWP event details | NHM event details
One hundred years ago today, the the Los Angeles Aqueduct first supplied water to a thirsty city, making the modern metropolis we know possible. The very next day, the Natural History Museum first opened its doors, welcoming an estimated 35,000 visitors. To commemorate the anniversary, the Dept. of Water and Power is hosting an open-house celebration at its downtown headquarters with food, refreshments and a live broadcast of a re-enactment of the opening of the aqueduct. Meanwhile, the NHM today unveils its new exhibition of large-scale watercolor works by Rob Reynolds, "Just Add Water," and tomorrow will hold a civic ceremony that includes the creation of a time capsule to be opened in 2113. Museum admission is free both days.
AFI Fest at Chinese 6 Theatres | Event details
As Hollywood's award season approaches, the American Film Institute's eight-day festival offers an opportunity to sneak a peak at some buzzed-about films from the U.S. and abroad, including Ben Stiller's magical realist tale "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," the Coen brothers' folk drama "Inside Llewyn Davis," John Wells's star-studded screen adaptation of "August: Osage County," Peter Berg's Navy Seal film "Long Survivor," Yuval Adler's Israeli espionage thriller "Bethlehem" and Alex van Warmerdam's Dutch black comedy "Borgman," to name a few. In all, the festival will screen 119 films (83 features and 36 shorts) from 43 countries.
Gregory Maqoma and Complete at REDCAT | Event details
Two acclaimed South African artists -- the choreographer Gregory Maqoma of and the vocal ensemble Complete -- combine their talents in this solo dance show inspired by Maqoma's ancestral past. "Exit/Exist" blends both African and European theater and dance as it tells the story of a 19th-century Xhosa warrior who fought the British to maintain cultural traditions in the face of colonialism.
Second Saturday Gallery Night in Northeast L.A. | Event details
The neighborhoods of Northeast L.A. -- Highland Park, Eagle Rock, Glassell Park, Mount Washington -- are home to more than 50 galleries, boutiques, cafes and other creative spaces. On the second Saturday of every month, they throw open their doors and visitors are free to hop from venue to venue, aided by a handy printable map. Another option for navigating the galleries is joining up with the Spoke(n) Art Ride, a free group bicycle tour that meets at the Flying Pigeon, rides at a leisurely pace and often culminates in an after-party.
For more options this week and every week, go to kcet.org/events.