According to the calendar, Summer doesn’t end until Sept. 22 but all the signs of autumn are showing in Santa Monica. Schools is back in session, the Twilight Concert series is over and the occasional jacket is appearing after dark.

However, just because the days are getting shorter doesn’t mean the opportunities for outdoor entertainment are dwindling as well and the Santa Monica Pier has a busy schedule of fall fun in keeping with its tradition as a community resource.

“Events have been a key part of what draws people to the Pier since the 1980’s,” said the Pier’s Deputy Director Jim Harris. “After the Pier suffered extensive damage during the storms of 1983, many people assumed that the Pier was closed altogether. The City of Santa Monica funded a series of events called “Save the Pier Week” in order to draw people to the Pier and let them know that it was, indeed, still up and running. From those early events dawned the realization that the Pier is a wonderful event space, and in 1985 the now-iconic Twilight Dance Series (renamed Twilight Concert Series in 2012) was born.”

TCS ended its eight-week run earlier this month and the future of the concert series will be debated at upcoming meetings of the Pier Corporation and City Council but the concerts are just one part of the free outdoor programming.

Harris said the location can enhance the experience.

“The atmosphere provided by the Pier is completely unique in that it comes fully equipped with spectacular views, built-in fun & folly and is easily identifiable,” he said. “The different event locations each offer something completely unique as well, from the nostalgic east half of the parking lot next to the National Landmark Merry Go-Round to the lively west half of the lot next to Pacific Park to the serene west end hovering above the Pacific Ocean.”

September’s programming has free movies, political debates, opera and athletics. Paid events include a fundraiser seafood festival.

Front Porch Cinema returns from Sept. 29 – Oct. 20. The free outdoor movie series is set on the pier and styled like grandma’s front porch, rocking chairs and all. The 2017 lineup is still in the works but will be available online at

Early risers can take advantage of the free ROGA program every Saturday from Sept. 16 – Oct. 21. There’s a free group run at 8 a.m. (two or five-mile course available, meet at Ocean/Colorado under the Pier sign, walkers welcome) and yoga at 9 a.m. on the west end of the pier (please bring your own yoga mat). Visit for more information.

Politics might not be everyone’s favorite topic at the moment but no matter your thoughts on the national news, the Pier’s partnership with PRO/CON is designed to bring civic discourse back to the public arena. Every Monday from 6-7 p.m., Sept 11 – Oct 2 there will be a free debate on the West End of the Pier. Topics will include electoral reform, the shrinking middle class, public education and housing in Los Angeles (

Free opera returns to the beach with LA Opera’s production of Carmen. The show will be broadcast live in high-definition to a big screen at the Pier on Sept 23, doors open at 5 p.m., and the live broadcast begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are not required but RSVPs are encouraged at

The Off the Hook seafood festival returns on Oct. 14 from 4 – 7 p.m. to help raise money and awareness for the Surfrider Foundation. The nonprofit is dedicated to protecting the worlds oceans and was founded in Malibu. The festival includes tastings from local restaurants, a beer gardens, live music, games and other activities. Tickets range from $40 to $90 depending on the time of purchase and level of access. Visit for more information.

Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...