L.A.’s MarinaFest and Discover Marina del Rey join forces for two days of family fun

By Joe Piasecki

Twin tall ships Irving Johnson and Exy Johnson return to Marina del Rey harbor this weekend

The Los Angeles Maritime Institute’s twin 110-foot tall ships Irving Johnson and Exy Johnson, contemporary brigantines modeled after those that brought early European explorers to the Americas, drop anchor in Marina del Rey Harbor this weekend for a pair of festive annual events that have now joined forces: the Discover Marina del Rey festival and L.A.’s MarinaFest.

While the names imply a desire to attract weekend visitors from the inland urban sprawl, the festivities offer plenty of reasons for locals to come and have a stroll (or sail).

L.A.’s MarinaFest is the immediate area’s largest annual in-water boat show, a two-day exhibit of sail and power boats co-produced by locals Steve Curran and Russ Carrington. But it isn’t just a boat show. L.A.’s MarinaFest emerged during the Great Recession as a more community-based revival of large local boat shows past — the culmination of “a desire to pull the community together to promote itself,” as Curran told The Argonaut a few years ago.

As the economy has improved, L.A.’s MarinaFest has grown. In addition to some pretty impressive vessels lining the harbor around Burton Chace Park, expect dozens of marine and community exhibitors (including an Argonaut booth), harbor boat tours, food trucks, music and, of course, short sails and tours of those majestic tall ships (one on Saturday, both on Sunday).

On Sunday, the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors throws more seaside fun into the mix with the Discover Marina del Rey festival (formerly in October), which brings in extra family activities like games for kids, face-painting, dance jams, a marionette show and family kayaking.

Building off the success of last year’s ArtSea event, at the stroke of noon on Sunday the L.A. County Arts Commission teams with Beaches and Harbors to unveil a temporary 5,000-square-foot art installation by Patrick Shearn of interactive art-makers Poetic Kinetics.

Shearn and students from London’s AAV School of Architecture brought the dazzling “Liquid Shard” art installation piece to Pershing Square in 2016. Remember that mesmerizing Mylar streamer wave that blew up your Instagram feed? Expect to see something similar but different floating over Burton Chace Park, strung up between the pergolas. It’s definitely worth checking out.

L.A.’s MarinaFest happens from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday (May 19 and 20) at Burton Chace Park, 13650 Mindanao Way, Marina del Rey. Landside events are free; boat show and dock admission is $10 (or free for kids 12 or younger accompanied by a paying adult). Visit marinafest.org for more information.

Discover Marina del Rey happens simultaneously on Sunday in Burton Chace Park, offering most landside activities free of charge. See visitmarinadelrey.com for more information.