Discover Tours, Films, Lectures, Parties and More
Coachella Valley hosts the largest concentration of Mid-Century Modern architecture in the United States. As visitors flock to the desert for the annual Modernism Week event, there are a number of ways to celebrate the sleek design and minimalist approach to this style of architecture.
Extra days in the ‘week’
Now in its 15th year, Modernism Week takes place Feb. 13 – 23, spanning over not 7 but 11 full days. Whether attendees are seasoned participants or first-timers, with more than 350 homes, neighborhood and garden tours, lectures, parties, films and other activities on the schedule, there is something for everyone, including some free events.
A full schedule and ticket information can be found online at modernismweek.com.
Because this annual event is so popular, several events are now sold out, including the Frank Sinatra’s Neighborhood – The Movie Colony, Golden Era – Hollywood Homes, Rat Pack Playground – Modernist Homes and Frey House II tours, but there are many other great things to see and do, beginning with the Opening Night Party: Space Modyssey 2020. This 21 and older party features David Bowie tribute performer, Space Oddity. Dress for the occasion in your favorite space regalia: Wookies, Trekkies, and Jetsons are all welcome.
The ever-expanding Modernism Week has a number of new events for 2020, including:
- Nancy Sinatra at the historic Plaza Theatre
- Jerry Lewis House “Nutty Professor” Party
- A Palm Desert Signature Home Tour
- Birth of the Cool: A Symposium on California Architecture, Art, Design, and Culture at Midcentury
- Presentation: How Sunset Magazine Shaped California and the West
- Presentation: Daughters of Design: Bertoia, Eames, and Saarinen
- Tour of the Shea Residence
Tour the town
Perhaps the biggest allure of Modernism Week is the variety of tours because they offer the rare opportunity to wander through neighborhoods, the interior of homes and private gardens. Walk, bike or hop the bus to see architecture.
The Twin Palms tour features seven homes newly open for public viewings. The historic Walter S. White ‘Wave’ house, now fully restored and decorated, is also available to tour. And, for the first time since its completion, the newly restored Lawrence Welk estate, home to the famed big-band leader, is open to the public.
Another first-time offering is The Chalet Palms Experience, interior and exterior tours at the small condo community envisioned by Barry Berkus.
Keep in mind that some of the house tours require visitors to remove their footwear (or wear booties). It’s helpful to wear shoes that can easily slip off and on. Additionally, some homes do not allow for interior photography.
But wait, there’s more
Find numerous talks, lectures, book signings, workshops, music and parties over the course of the festival. If you’re a bargain hunter, check out these gratis gatherings:
- Modernism Week Vintage Car Show: More than 50 vintage automobiles from the 1930s through 1980s.
- Vintage Trailer Show: Features unique and rare classic trailers, campers, buses and motorhomes with the mid-century modern vibe.
- Shag’s Modernism Week Print Release Party: It won’t cost you a thing and cocktails are even complimentary at this artist meet-and-greet.
- Modernism Yard Sale: This is one of the festival’s most popular free events. Head to this vintage flea market featuring furniture, home accessories, housewares, clothes and more.
Why don’t you stay?
With so much to take in over 11 days, you’re going to want to take some time to rest. Find great lodging nearby and take advantage of Modernism Week rates. Nearby Rancho Mirage also has numerous resorts with spacious rooms, poolside patios, private villas and options to suit your needs whether you’re taking in Modernism Week alone or with a group of friends.