How to do Twilight Concerts in Santa Monica: Parking, Getting There, and Other Tips for Your Wednesdays

How to Twilight on the Pier

Twilight on the Pier (aka Twilight Concert Series, Twilight Dance Series, or just Twilight) is the annual concert series produced on the Santa Monica Pier. For over 30 years, visitors and locals alike flock to the western beaches of Los Angeles to visit the Pier on cool, late summer nights to listen to new and emerging artists perform out over the crashing waves of the Pacific. Formerly held on summer Thursdays, Twilight has moved to Wednesday nights later in the summer to accommodate the busy and sometimes crowded peak summer nights. This year the series kicks off on the 3rd Wednesday in August and runs for 6 weeks. Here is all the information you need to know when making plans to attend the Twilight on the Pier.

When is this year’s Twilight Concert Series?
The first Twilight Concert is Wednesday, August 21st. The 35th annual Twilight on the Pier music and art series takes place Wednesday nights, late summer in Santa Monica. The Pier is open all day. Music acts go on around 6:30 PM. The festivities wrap up by 10 PM.

Where are the Twilight Concerts?
Santa Monica’s long-running Twilight Concert Series take place ON the world-famous Santa Monica Pier. There is a main stage located on the Pier’s main parking deck located behind the Pier restaurants Rusty’s, Albright, and Seaside. An additional stage and performance area is located at the far, western end of the Pier past Mariasol’s. Standup comedians will perform in the Seaside Pavilion located on the west side of Pacific Park. Additionally, artists and other interactive entertainment will be located throughout the 7-acre pier. There are no bands or music on the beach.

What can I expect at this year’s Twilight on the Pier?
Each night of the Twilight Concert Series highlights the music and art of one country or cultural group. From Pop and Indie Rock to Japanese Vibes, the series will focus on one group at a time so that each visit to the Twilight will promise an all-new experience. Once you arrive at the Pier, you will want to pass through one of the security check points (at all Pier stairs, back of the Pier on Ocean Front Walk and at the bottom of the Pier bridge coming down from Ocean Avenue), check out the acts on the main stage located in the upper deck. Between sets there, walk out to the west end of the Pier where DJs and performance acts will entertain Pier-goers. On your way back to the mainstage, be sure to check out the stand-up comedians in the Seaside Pavilion at Pacific Park (next to Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf). While you are at the Pier be sure to check out the rides and games inside Pacific Park (no admission fee, of course), try a quick bite from one of the Pier’s many restaurants or beer from the Twilight Beer Garden.

Can I bring food, drink, or picnic items during the concert series?
On concert evenings, there are security checks at all Pier entrances. Normal beach items including waters and snacks are allowed. No weapons, knives, wheeled carts, bikes or anything the security personal could construe as a weapon or obstruction are allowed. Picnics are permitted, but dining at one of the Pier’s many restaurants is encouraged.

How do I get to the Twilight Concerts on the Santa Monica Pier?
Concert parking can be tricky as many folks head to the beach after work and streets around the Pier can get backed up. We strongly recommend taking the Metro; the Expo line drops you off at 4th and Ocean – a quick 10-minute walk from the Pier deck. If you must drive, plan to arrive early (before 4 PM) to take advantage of available parking. You can kill time before the concerts grabbing an early dinner or enjoying the rides at Pacific Park. For driving directions to the Pier, check out pacpark.com/directions.

If you park north or south of the Pier and walk, bike, or scoot to the Pier, head to the “back” of the Pier located at 1600 Ocean Front Walk (across from Big Dean’s Ocean Front Cafe). You can access the Pier by the stairs and ramps behind the Carousel Building.

If you park at 3rd Street Promenade, the Civic Center garage, take Metro or are walking, biking, scooting from Downtown Santa Monica, take the Pier Bridge ramp down to the boardwalk from Ocean and Colorado. The security check point is at the bottom of the ramp, so please plan accordingly.

In / Outs are permitted and this is a non-ticketed event.

Where do I park for the Santa Monica Pier Twilight Concerts?
If you absolutely must drive, point your GPS to 1550 Appian Way. This will take you to Lot 1 North, right next to the Pier. This city-owned parking lot is $15 flat rate during the day, but goes up to a whopping $25 at 5PM on concert nights, so we recommend driving to the Civic Center Parking Structure at 333 Civic Center Dr. (corner of Olympic Drive and 4th Street). This is a 12-15 minute walk across Tvonga Park to the Pier boardwalk. For more directions and parking tips, check out our guide to Parking at the Santa Monica Pier.

Where do I go once I arrive in Santa Monica to experience Twilight?
All of the Twilight festivities take place on the Pier. On concert nights there are 3 security check points where you can enter the Pier:
– Pier Bridge – enter from Ocean and Colorado and walk down the concrete ramp to the Pier. This is the entrance you will take if coming from the Metro, 3rd Street Promenade, and other points in Downtown Santa Monica.
– North Stairs – The stairs on the north side of the Pier lead up from the beach next to Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. Use this entrance if you are parking in Lot 1 North.
– Ocean Front Walk – Take the ADA accessible ramps or stairs at the back of the Pier next to Ocean Front Walk across from Big Dean’s Ocean Front Café. You will be at the back of the Twilight mainstage. Follow signs and fences to the north side of the carousel building to pass through the security check point.
Once through security, the rest of the Pier is open for you to enjoy. Headlining acts perform on the mainstage behind the Rusty’s and the Albright. You can enter this area through the “artists installations” between to the parking gate house and police substation across from Bubba Gump.

Why is the beach closed during the Twilight Concert Series?
The beach is not closed, but there are no Twilight Concerts on the beach. In years past when the concerts would get close to capacity, people would spill out onto the sand to hang out. Due to problems with littering and use of glass bottles and containers on the beach, this is no longer encouraged. Come up on the Pier and enjoy this free musical and artistic event with the rest of the Santa Monica Community.

What Happened to the Twilight Concerts on the Beach in Santa Monica?
The series began in 1984 and has been known as the Twilight Dance Series, Twilight Concert Series, and is now known simply as Twilight on the Pier. The concerts have featured a diverse lineup of award-winning and up-and-coming musical acts. Over the years, the Twilight Concert Series has become a defining event for the beachside city and is often lauded as a “must go” event for people from all over the Los Angeles area. Although under a new moniker, on a new night, the Twilight Concert Series are as exciting now as ever.

What is different about Twilight on the Pier?
Twilight on the Pier not only focuses on the bands playing on the mainstage but on artists and other performers including those from dance, comedy, visual arts, and other forms of artistic expression. Twilight on the Pier has been compared to “an art walk over the water” although there are no galleries. The art, music, and experiences are happening all over the Pier, inside the restaurants, amusement park, and along the storied boardwalks over the Pacific. Twilight on the Pier seeks to bring people out of the crowd and into the experience that is the Santa Monica Pier.

Where can I get more information about the Twilight Concert Series in Santa Monica?
Read more about the bands and performers on our blog. As always, the most up-to-date information can be found at santamonicapier.org/twilight.

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