The 34th annual Festival of the Chariots will parade its three, 30-foot tall “chariots” from Santa Monica to Venice Beach for a celebration expected to draw thousands Sunday, Aug. 1.
Hosted by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, the festival will begin at 10 a.m. with a parade of authentic Hindu chariots from the Civic Auditorium down Main Street to the Ocean Front Walk plaza at Windward Avenue in Venice, where festivities will be held.
Under a decision by the city of Santa Monica for this year’s parade, Main Street will be blocked off from all traffic from Olympic Boulevard in Santa Monica to Rose Avenue in Venice. Parking for the festival at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium will be accessible from Civic Center Drive off of Fourth Street.
The Festival of the Chariots is based on an ancient festival that takes place annually in the Indian holy town of Jagannatha Puri, according to the Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). Every year in India, the festival attracts millions of pilgrims and it is second only to Kumbha Mela, said to be the largest gathering of humanity on Earth, according to ISKCON.
The Festival of the Chariots in Los Angeles attracts an estimated crowd of 50,000 every year.
The celebration at the Windward plaza will feature live music and entertainment on three stages; children’s games and activities; 12 exotic food and gift booths; exhibits of Indian art and culture; and a free feast.
On the main stage, some of the premier artists in Indian dance and music will perform. They include Viji Prakash and the Shakti Dance Co., performing Indian classical dance in bright and colorful authentic costumes, and Gauravani and As Kindred Spirits, who will play their fusion of jazz, rock and Indian classical music with vocals.
During the parade, the crowds participate by hand pulling the chariots with thick jute ropes. The revelers travel down Main Street, turn right at Rose Avenue, and left onto Ocean Front Walk. They then arrive at the festival fairgrounds at the Ocean Front Walk plaza located just off of Windward Avenue and the Venice Boardwalk.