Downtown Long Beach is home to several major annual events that draw both spectators and participants to the urban waterfront. The JetBlue Long Beach Marathon & Half Marathon, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and the Long Beach Lesbian & Gay Pride Festival and Parade all take advantage of the blend of skyline and shoreline in the city’s center.
The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach attracts more than 183,000 people and features six races. It takes place April 13th-15th, 2018. (Photograph courtesy of Grand Prix Association of Long Beach)
The next Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach occurs April 13-15, 2018. On December 5, the city council unanimously approved an agreement to allow the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach to continue running the event through 2023. The event, which attracts more than 183,000 people, features six races: the Verizon IndyCar Series, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge, Pirelli World Challenge, SPEED Energy Stadium Super Trucks and the Historic Trans Am Challenge. The race course loops around Shoreline Drive and Seaside Way.
“The downtown location was originally selected because the city was looking for events which would bring some prestige to the area as well as hopefully stimulate development, which that area desperately needed back in the mid-70s,” Grand Prix Association of Long Beach CEO Jim Michaelian wrote in an e-mail statement to the Business Journal. “Once established, the race event and the city have grown dramatically over these past 43 years.”
In addition to the races, the event features concerts on Friday and Saturday nights that are free to race ticket holders. Drivers will be available for autographs at the lifestyle expo and racegoers can take in exhibits outlining the history of the Grand Prix. Ticket prices range from $33 for a Friday general admission ticket to $147 for a three-day ticket. General admission for kids ages 12 and under is free with a ticketed adult. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit: gplb.com.
Run Racing, the event management company that operates the Long Beach Marathon, held the event at Long Beach Community College the first year it took it over in 2001. But company CEO Bob Seagren said the city asked him to move it downtown.
The Long Beach Lesbian & Gay Pride Festival and Parade is a two-day event that attracts more than 80,000 participants. Next year’s celebration takes place on May 19 and 20. (Photograph courtesy of Long Beach Lesbian & Gay Pride, Inc.)
“It’s a lot more scenic and probably a lot better for the downtown businesses,” Seagren said. He reported that the marathon itself draws 15,000 to 20,000 participants, and about 2.8 spectators per runner – for a total of 57,000 to 76,000 people.
The Long Beach Marathon & Half Marathon take place on October 6 and 7 next year. Both races start and finish on Shoreline Drive. Other weekend events include a health and fitness expo and a 20-mile bike tour traveling in the opposite direction of the marathon course. Runners also have the option of competing in a shorter race: a five-kilometer run at the Aquarium of the Pacific. Kids can take part in a one-mile fun run, also at the Aquarium. For more information or to sign up, visit: motivrunning.com/run-longbeach/.
Long Beach Lesbian & Gay Pride (LBLGP), Inc. puts together the annual Long Beach Lesbian & Gay Pride Festival & Parade, a two-day event that attracts more than 80,000 participants, according to the organization’s website. Next year’s celebration takes place on May 19 and 20. The parade starts on Ocean Boulevard and Redondo Avenue and works its way to the convention center. More than 200 groups and floats are in attendance, representing religious, governmental and human rights organizations. It is the third largest pride festival in the nation, according to LBLGP. Next year’s theme is ‘Remember the Past to Create the Future,’ the designated theme of pride celebrations nationwide. For updates on this year’s event, please visit: longbeachpride.com/about-us/.
In addition, the first day of the Amgen Tour of California (a professional cycling event in its 13th year) is taking place in Downtown Long Beach on May 13. This is the first time in 11 years the city is hosting the event. The race ends May 19 in Sacramento.