Irvine is a hub of arts and culture in OC

by Ellen Bell


It’s all around town. Laugh at the Improv. Cry at the New Swan Theater. Engage your senses with 4DX movies at Regal Irvine Spectrum. Groove to Grammy-winning jazz. Take a look.

  • Bren Events Center is UC Irvine’s 5,000-seat indoor arena that hosts UCI Anteater basketball and volleyball teams and special events.
  • Claire Trevor School of the Arts at UC Irvine hosts more than 200 student exhibitions, concerts and performances each year in art, dance, drama and music.
  • FivePoint Amphitheatre is a 12,000-capacity outdoor concert venue that attracts national acts like Beck, Jason Aldean and Snoop Dogg.
  • The Global Village Festival features international music, dance, cuisine and exhibits each October. It was voted OC’s “Best Festival.”
  • Irvine Barclay Theatre is UC Irvine’s 750-seat theater renowned for its intimate atmosphere, superb acoustics and quality productions that include dance, theater, music and distinguished
  • Irvine Fine Arts Center offers art classes, camps and programs for all ages and skills, as well as exhibits and juried shows from local artists.
  • Irvine Historical Museum houses memorabilia and artifacts recounting the days of cowboys, citrus groves and life on The Irvine Ranch dating back to 1864.
  • Irvine Improv at Spectrum Center is America’s most successful Improv comedy club. It has drawn legendary comics from Jerry Seinfeld to Robin Williams to Amy Poehler.
  • New Swan Theater is UC Irvine’s 130-seat theater-in-the-round that hosts a Shakespeare festival each summer, drawing packed houses five nights a week.
  • Orange County Soccer Club is the county’s only pro soccer team. It is part of the United Soccer League, the fastest- growing Division 2 pro soccer league in the world.
  • Regal Irvine Spectrum theaters are America’s most innovative and highest-performing theaters, featuring ScreenX, IMAX and 4DX immersive experiences. A multimillion-dollar reboot installed advanced technology in all 21 theaters.
  • Southland Ballet Academy is a branch of the nationally acclaimed Festival Ballet Theatre and performs regularly at Irvine Barclay Theatre and Pretend City.


Irvine’s international cuisine offers a culinary trip around the world — from the nigiri at the Michelin-rated Ootoro Sushi, to the goat-cheese naan at Adya (whose chef-owner, Shachi Mehra, won Food Network’s “Chopped” in 2019), to the Orange Blossom Persian ice cream at Saffron & Rose. Top it off with a nightcap at Hive & Honey Rooftop Bar, with unobstructed views of the city.


One of the world’s most significant collections of California art is now housed at UC Irvine, thanks to a 2016 donation by the late Joan Irvine Smith, whose family founded the Irvine Company. The university plans to build a new museum for this and 3,500 works of 20th-century California
art inherited from local resident Gerald Buck. “This will be the greatest museum for California art anywhere in the world,” says Stephen Barker, executive director of UCI’s Institute and Museum of California Art.

“In the Mission Garden, San Juan Capistrano” (c. 1928) by Julie Morrow.
“On the Beach” (1917) by Donna N. Schuster.

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