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Why We Love L.A. Summers: Chinatown Summer Nights

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Photo by Joits via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr
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By Matthew Bramlett

Summer has arrived, and we're ready to celebrate all that screams 'tis the season in Los Angeles. From sand to summit, from sips to snacks -- we love L.A. summers.

Every summer, the avenues of L.A.'s Chinatown come to life for Chinatown Summer Nights, a smorgasbord of games, music, art workshops and an unbelievable array of the best local food trucks. The festival has been touted year after year as one of the best events to spend a warm summer evening in the city.

The first night of the festival kicked off June 15 and was deemed a rousing success. Fortunately for those who couldn't make it, there are still two more Chinatown Summer Nights on the way on Saturday, July 20, and Saturday, August 17.

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On July 20 in the Central Plaza, the KCRW Main Stage will feature local DJs Mathieu Schreyer, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Jason Bentley, from 10 p.m. to midnight. At the L.A. Weekly stage, a number of local acts curated by Kevin Bronson of Buzz Bands LA are set to perform, including Irontom, Haunted Summer, Dear Boy, The Dead Ships, Beat Club and Magic Wands.

In addition to the awesome musical talent, there will be a seemingly endless amount of food trucks catering to any culinary whim, plus a craft beer garden. Participating trucks include: Cambalache's Gourmet, Crepe’n Around, Don Chow Tacos, Fluff Ice, India Jones Chow Truck, Jogasaki Sushi Burrito, The Munchie Machine, Sweet E's Truck, Tornado Potato, Trailer Park Truck and Yalla Truck.

But wait, there's more. The festivals will also include an artisan workshop in the West Plaza, which will feature tutorials on calligraphy, candy sculpture, clay sculpture, dough sculpture, face painting and much more. A family workshop will also be available in the West Plaza from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The L.A. Craft Experience will be on hand to showcase a variety of local shops and street vendors that offer a multitude of different goods, including home decor, jewelry, art, screen prints, toys, pottery and handmade books. In the Mandarin Plaza, located on 970 North Broadway, a courageous and death-defying attempt to break the world record for Chinese paper folding will take place. This is something only the foolhardy would want to miss.

On August 17, KCRW DJs Mario Cotto and Raul Campos will be on hand to spin some sick beats throughout the night. No bands have been announced yet for the L.A. Weekly stage, but rest assured Bronson will likely have some great local acts up his sleeve.

In addition to the aforementioned food trucks serving up eats on July 20, trucks making an appearance on August 17 include Baby's Badass Burgers, LudoTruck and Sweet Wheels.

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The festival is free, but festival-goers should bring money for food and shopping. Parking is easy and abundant, with parking plazas at the Mandarin Plaza, the Modern Parking structure located at 977 North Broadway and Central Parking System located at 988 North Hill Street. Parking rates generally range from $5-$8. For those taking public transit, a special and mysterious gift awaits with the wave of a TAP card to the people at the info booth in Central Plaza.