The Art of Pasadena

Exploring the creative side of a heritage town on the outskirts of Los Angeles

Photos courtesy of Norton Simon Museum, Tournament of Roses Parade and the Langham Hunington

Art aficionados of all stripes tout the artistic riches of Pasadena, a city steeped in historic architecture, first-rate museums, one fine library and a local tradition that, in the early-morning hours of New Year’s Day, witnesses the most splendid display of art and community in the nation. Here, three highlights of Pasadena’s vibrant, world-class culture.


nortonsimonCelebrated throughout the world, Norton Simon Museum is at the heart of Pasadena’s pulsating art scene—a repository for the vast private art collection of its 20th-century industrialist namesake. With 1,000 works and 12,000 objects, the collection spans from the Renaissance to the 20th century; included are pieces from art-world giants van Gogh and Degas, as well as expressions of South and Southeast Asian art. In addition is an array of rotating exhibitions. Two of these displays—Fragonard’s Enterprise: The Artist and the Literature of Travel and A Revolution of the Palette: The First Synthetic Blues and Their Impact on French Artists, both ending their run Jan. 4, 2016—are examples of this thoughtful fare. The museum’s sculpture garden, meanwhile, is the subject of a book. Here, significant sculpture dots lush grounds where a variety of cultural programming, from outdoor concerts to plein air drawing classes, also take root.


rosesparadeKnown for its profusion of boldly colored and fully bloomed parade floats, the more-than-a-century-old Rose Parade is a Pasadena institution—a wholly original spectacle that every Jan. 1 morning, flanked by spectators, follows the five-mile route down Colorado Boulevard. Flourishing with beauty and imagination, this annual ode to fun and flora is one of the most original feats of artistry to come down the pike in Pasadena, or anywhere else. Booming marching bands, extravagantly festooned floats, high-stepping equestrian outfits, a big-name Grand Marshal and the Roses Royal Court—all are staples of this hometown extravaganza that earns national air time in the run-up to the raucous Rose Bowl. Approaching its 127th year, the 2016 Rose Parade is themed “Find Your Adventure” and—as in years past—promises plenty of it. Prior to the parade, Dec. 27-31, spectators can watch float builders put the finishing touches on their creations.


langhamFrom its picturesque perch at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains, grand-dame hotel The Langham Huntington, Pasadena extends a daytrip into a lavish overnight stay. Known for its classic California opulence, the hotel’s sumptuously appointed suites offer a step up in already worthy accommodation, with views of verdant gardens and rolling mountains, plus comfy furnishings and a warm sense of spaciousness. In addition to the Langham’s many luxuries—Asian-inspired Chuan Spa, The Royce (a wood-fired steakhouse) and chic, speakeasy-like The Tap Room among them—is the hotel’s experience-oriented “Art of the Stay.” This series of impeccable service packages take luxe to the next level with extra indulgences, be it culinary excess, special events or a retreat from the world via high tea and Club Lounge access. Grandeur doesn’t get better.

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