What's Purim and Why All these Carnivals and Festivals?

Costume Parades, Hamentaschen, Purim Celebrations
Purim Justice Carnival. Photo courtesy of IKAR

Not too sure what Purim is? Imagine something between Hebrew Halloween and Middle Eastern Mardi Gras, and you'll more or less have it. Jewish families know Purim as a time of uncharacteristically raucous rabbinical revelry, marked by costumes, noisemakers, interactive storytelling, triangular pastries, and enough drink (for the grown-ups) to muddy the lines between good and evil. Gentile families generally don't know it at all. But Purim is worth knowing. Its story has all the best elements: a party-hearty king, a beautiful and courageous queen, a resourceful good guy, and a bad guy so hateful that everyone drowns out his name with noisemakers at carnivals all over town. Check out one of the events below for classic Purim carnival activities, costume parades, and boisterous retellings of the Purim story.

And if you know of a celebration we've missed, please let us know!

Temple Judea’s Purim Carnival. Photo by Steve Sherman Photo 


Purim Shpiel and Carnival
February 25, 2018
Temple Israel of Hollywood
7300 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90046
A family Purim Shpiel and Megilla reading are followed by a carnival. 

Purim Justice Carnival
February 25, 2018
IKAR at Shalhevet
910 S Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
IKAR's annual carnival seeks justice among the bounce houses. Costumes help.

Grand Purim Palooza
March 1, 2018
Plummer Park
7377 Santa Monica Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90046 
The event promises a live DJ, dance-off, and masquerade—plus a delicious dinner.

The Valleys

Purim Carnival
March 4, 2018
Temple Judea
5429 Lindley Avenue
Tarzana, CA 91356
Temple Judea hosts the biggest Purim Carnival in the Valley, with plenty of room for dancing in the street. The area becomes a mini-Disneyland with rides, games, crafts, a show, food, and shopping that raise thousands of dollars for scholarships.

Purim Carnival
March 4, 2018
Temple Beth Hillel
12326 Riverside Drive
Valley Village, CA 91607
The Valley Village celebration includes rides, games, live music, a petting zoo, and a dunk tank for Haman. 

VBS Purim Carnival
March 4, 2018
Valley Beth Shalom
15739 Ventura Blvd.
Encino, CA 91436
Dunk Haman in the dunk tank then climb the rock wall to the promised land at this family carnival with bounce houses and plenty of other entertainment.


Santa Monica Community Purim Carnival. Photo courtesy of Santa Monica Synagogue

Planet Purim
February 21,2018
Sinai Temple
10400 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90024
The whole community is welcome at this carnival that promises a petting zoo, go karts, mega slides, a DJ, karaoke, carnival games, and plenty of food. A play and costume parade kick off the festivities.

Santa Monica Community Purim Carnival
March 4, 2018
18th Street between Santa Monica Bl. & Broadway
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Santa Monica's two reform synagogues join forces for a block party carnival with bouncers, a zipline, a rock wall, games, food, and plenty of costumed fun. All families are invited to join in the unifying, community-building celebration.

Purim in the Wild West
March 1, 2018
Chabad of the Palisades
17315 W. Sunset Blvd.
Pacific Palisades, CA 90077
The folks in Pacific Palisades have been working their way around the globe every Purim for years, and the latest is a visit to the Wild West. Costumed kids can moonbounce until they can't tell the difference between Mordechai and Haman.

South Bay

Purim in the Palace
March 1, 2018
Chabad Jewish Center of Palos Verdes
28041 Hawthorne Blvd Ste 202-203
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275
The celebration at Chabad of Palos Verdes is decidedly regal, with dinner fit for a king plus a multimedia Megilla reading

Originally published February 25, 2012


Temple Beth Am
1039 La Cienega Boulevard
90035 Los Angeles , CA
Phone: 310.652.7353
34° 3' 28.998" N, 118° 22' 34.2768" W
Temple Judea
5429 Lindley Avenue
91356 Tarzana , CA
Phone: 818.758.3800
34° 10' 10.2072" N, 118° 31' 41.0016" W
Temple Ahavat Shalom
18200 Rinaldi Place
91326 Northridge , CA
Phone: 818.360.2258
34° 16' 34.788" N, 118° 31' 45.7464" W
Temple Emanuel
300 N. Clark Drive
90211 Beverly Hills , CA
Phone: 310.288.3737
34° 4' 16.6044" N, 118° 23' 4.0128" W
Wilshire Boulevard Temple
11661 W. Olympic Boulevard
90064 Los Angeles , CA
Phone: 310.825.4361
34° 2' 19.1976" N, 118° 25' 19.7472" W
Chabad Jewish Center of Palos Verdes
28041 Hawthorne Blvd Ste 202-203
90275 Rancho Palos Verdes , CA 33° 46' 46.416" N, 118° 23' 27.6432" W
Sinai Temple
10400 Wilshire Blvd.
90024 Los Angeles , CA 34° 3' 58.4712" N, 118° 25' 44.5548" W
Valley Beth Shalom
15739 Ventura Blvd.
91436 Encino , CA 34° 9' 21.3228" N, 118° 28' 35.8572" W