The Ford: The Story of an L.A. Icon

The Ford
Photo: Gennia Cui, The Ford

Nestled in a picturesque setting in the Hollywood Hills, The Ford has been one of L.A.'s favorite outdoor music venues for generations. Every year, the 1,200-seat amphitheater hosts an eclectic calendar of international events that represent music and dance styles that span the diverse communities of Los Angeles County. The LA Phil operates The Ford on behalf of L.A. County.

Christine Wetherill Stevenson in front of the Pilgrimage Play Theatre
Christine Wetherill Stevenson in front of the Pilgrimage Play Theatre | Photo: Water & Power Associates
"The Pilgrimage Play" at Pilgrimage Play Theatre
"The Pilgrimage Play" | Photo: The Ford


An heiress of the Pittsburgh Paint Company and a patron of the arts, Christine Wetherill Stevenson had a vision to open an open-air theatre and produce her own plays. Stevenson realized her dream in 1920, when she opened the Pilgrimage Theatre and staged The Pilgrimage Play, her adaptation of the life of Christ. Stevenson died suddenly in 1922 - the Hollywood Pilgrimage Memorial Monument (aka the Great Hollywood Cross) was erected in her memory a year later. Her play would continue to be performed every summer until 1929, when the original wooden structure was destroyed by a brush fire in October.

A new theatre, built on the same site with poured concrete and designed to evoke the gates of Jerusalem, opened in 1931. The Pilgrimage Play was performed there until 1964, interrupted only by World War II. The land was deeded to L.A. County in 1941.

1959 photo of John Anson Ford
1959 photo of John Anson Ford with miniature gold Sputnik | Photo: Wikipedia

In 1976, the Pilgrimage Theatre was renamed the John Anson Ford Theatre in honor of the late L.A. County Supervisor and his important contributions to the arts in Los Angeles. Among his many achievements, John Anson Ford helped found the L.A. County Arts Commission; encouraged the Board of Supervisors to support the building of The Music Center; and led L.A. County's acquisition of Descanso Gardens.


The theatre was used intermittently for Shakespearean theater, jazz concerts, and dance performances until former County Supervisor Ed Edelman revived the historic theatre, spurring the creation of The Ford's summer season (originally called "Summer Nights at the Ford") in 1993 and obtaining funding for capital improvements to the facility.

Originally a program of the Los Angeles County Arts Commission (now the Department of Arts & Culture), The Ford's summer season was designed to enable L.A. County music, dance, film and theater groups to produce performances successfully in a major venue. The program has blossomed in the last 30 years, supporting hundreds of local arts organizations and producers.

In addition to its summer concert season, The Ford presents interactive arts events at its amphitheatre in Hollywood and at public sites across L.A. County; as well as the family-friendly LA Soundscapes series (see below).

The Ford 2023 Season

From cumbia and folk to opera and dance, The Ford presents artists from many of LA’s vibrant creative communities; and a wide range of touring musicians as you’ve never seen them before. There’s always something new and exciting to experience and share at The Ford.

Highlights of The Ford 2023 season include: Mac DeMarco (July 14-16), Darren Criss (July 23), Jorge Drexler (July 29), Local Natives (Aug. 1-2), 7th Annual Boleros de Noche (Aug. 5), Lucinda Williams (Aug. 10), Bob Baker Marionette Theater: "It's a Musical World" (Aug. 13), ¡Azúcar! by CONTRA-TIEMPO (Aug. 18), FILAM JAM with JayR & The Filharmonic (Aug. 19),José James (Aug. 26), Element Band (Aug. 27), Thee Sacred Should (Aug. 30), Noche de Cumbia (Sept. 1), Os Mutantes (Sept. 3), Flypoet (Sept. 9), Ryan Beatty (Sept. 14), Laufey with the LA Phil (Sept. 16), Celebrating Samba with Viver Brasil (Sept. 17), Hermanos Gutiérrez (Sept. 28), Canciones de Mi Madre (Sept. 30), Jazzy Ash & The Leaping Lizards (Oct. 1), Al Sur de la Frontera (Oct. 6), Los Angeles Folk Festival (Oct. 7-8), 20 Años de Grandeza Mexicana (Oct. 14), Un Viaje por Buenos Aires with GD Tango (Oct. 15) and serpentwithfeet: Heart of Brick (Oct. 21).

Bob Baker Marionette Theater: It's a Musical World at The Ford
Bob Baker Marionette Theater: It's a Musical World | Photo: The Ford
Jazzy Ash & the Leaping Lizards at The Ford
Jazzy Ash & the Leaping Lizards | Photo: The Ford

LA Soundscapes

LA Soundscapes is a family-friendly Sunday morning series with artmaking, dancing and listening on-stage with Los Angeles artists. Best for ages 3-11, each LA Soundscapes family event features a pre-concert activity and participatory artmaking. Don't forget your sunscreen and sun hats!

  • Aug. 13: It's a Musical World with Bob Baker Marionette Theater - Explore the sounds and rhythms that can be found in our everyday life through a sing-along hour that celebrates how the world is made of music. From self-strumming guitars to a parade of jubilant drums, this variety show gets your toes tapping Bob Baker style!
  • Sept. 17: Celebrating Samba with Viver Brasil - Take a cultural journey to Salvador, Bahia with electrifying Afro-Brazilian dance and music to experience a jolt of joyful color, thrilling rhythms, and communal celebration.
  • Oct. 1: Jazzy Ash & the Leaping Lizards - Come along on a Crescent City inspired, jazzy music adventure! The talented and prolific songwriter/musical treasure hunter highlights traditional songs, rhythms, and rhymes that have been handed down by African American children, adults, and musicians for generations.
  • Oct. 15: Un Viaje por Buenos Aires with GD Tango - Time travel through different eras of Argentine Tango, from its origins to the present. In this stunning new production, Tango music and dance are mixed with humor, parodies, and heartfelt performances from a multidisciplinary cast. Audiences will be thrilled at the charm and charisma of the ensemble’s movements and the intensity of its music.
Food and drinks from Bodega at The Ford
Bodega at The Ford | Photo: Suzanne Lanza
Wine and beer from Bodega at The Ford
Wine and beer from Bodega at The Ford | Photo: Suzanne Lanza

Bodega at The Ford

New for 2023, Bodega at The Ford features a street food-style experience inspired by LA's acclaimed dining scene. The global menu includes Venezuelan street fare at Mercedes Rojas' Arepa Stand; sourdough pizza pioneer Jason Winters' Speak Cheezy; and locally sourced cuisine from Jason Kim at Forage. All three LA-based chefs/owners are alums of a.o.c., the famed wine bar from the James Beard Award winning duo of chef Suzanne Goin and restaurateur Caroline Styne.

The offerings include Garlicky Fried Chicken & Potatoes at Forage; Speak Cheezy's classic Margherita and vegan Sicilian Style (vegan & gluten-free dough, vegan cheese, vegan pepperoni); and three arepas from Rojas: The 405 (braised beef brisket), The Westsider (shredded chicken breast salad) and The Hills, made with black bean purée, market greens, onion and bell pepper sofrito, fried plantains, avocado, cilantro and cotija cheese (vegan option available).

Styne curates a wide range of beverage options for the Bodega, including an extensive selection of local craft beers and natural small-production California wines by the glass and bottle.

The Bodega also serves fresh market cocktails, such as the Tennessee Ruby (Uncle Nearest Bourbon, lemon, grapefruit, maple syrup), Cucumber Gimlet (Burnett’s Gin, lime, simple syrup, cucumber juice) and Gaviota Margarita with Tosco Silver Tequila, lime, Cointreau and strawberry purée.

Picnicking at The Ford
Photo: The Ford


Gates open 90 minutes before show time for all events. Tables on the Edison Plaza and Zev Terrace are available for picnicking on a first-come, first-served basis.

All food and beverages are allowed inside the amphitheater. Note that there are no tables in the amphitheater and all picnic coolers, baskets, etc. need to be small enough to fit under your seat so as not to block any walkways.

If you're bringing the whole crew, contact Group Services to learn more about special rates: (323) 850-2050.

The Ford Grounds Map
The Ford Grounds Map

Getting There

On-site parking at The Ford is limited and stacked. The Ford recommends off-site parking and free shuttle, no reservations needed.

Shuttle service starts two hours before showtime and runs every 20 minutes, ending when the concert begins. The shuttle does not run throughout the event. After the show, catch the shuttle at the front gates - follow signs and staff directions.

Shuttle pick-up locations:

  • Metro B Line Universal City/Studio City Station from the “Shuttle/Passenger Loading” area.
  • Ovation Hollywood from Orange Court, located on Level Two off Orange Drive.

The Metro B Line provides service between Downtown LA and the San Fernando Valley, connecting Union Station, Mid-Wilshire, Hollywood and North Hollywood. Exit from the Universal City/Studio City Station or Hollywood/Highland Station at Ovation Hollywood (formerly Hollywood & Highland).

A free shuttle service picks up from Universal City/Studio City at the “Shuttle/Passenger Loading” area; and at Ovation Hollywood from the Orange Court, located on Level Two off Orange Drive, between Hollywood Boulevard and Franklin Avenue.

Metro bus lines #222 and #224 service The Ford.


Drop-off and pick-up is near the entrance to The Ford parking lot (at Cahuenga Blvd. East and Pilgrimage Bridge).


The Ford
2580 Cahuenga Blvd East, Hollywood 90068