Modernism Week Event
Credit: David A Lee
Modernism Week Event
Credit: David A Lee

5 Things to Look Forward to at Modernism Week — October 2023 in Palm Springs

Mark Your Calendars! Modernism Week — October in Palm Springs is Around the Corner

The annual Modernism Week — October is quickly approaching! This fall festival is a smaller-scale preview of the 11-day commemoration of all things mid mod that takes place in February. Although more condensed, the October affair will leave quite an impression with nearly 50 events, including tours, talks and parties! Running for only four days (Oct. 19-22), there’s much to see and do, from admiring the desert’s famous and iconic midcentury architecture to experiencing some of the interiors of the most glamorous residences. Bus tours, bike rides, shopping and craft cocktails await! Here are five things to look forward to at this year’s Modernism Week — October.


What’s New

At the helm of this year’s lineup are new tours that invite guests to explore more of Palm Springs’ famous architecture. The Legendary Palm Springs Commercial Architecture Bus Tour views iconic buildings like hotels, banks and other civic architecture. The Homes That Define Palm Springs Bus Tour journeys through quintessential neighborhoods and highlights renowned home styles, including midcentury modern to pre-war Spanish Colonial Revival residences. Both tours take place on Oct. 19, 20, and 21 and cost $90.

Another new addition this year includes Albert Frey’s Palm Springs Bus Tour—a homage to this acclaimed modernist architect, available on Oct. 21-22 for $130. There will also be two separate tours of Herbert W. Burns’ notable Gillman Residence (Oct. 21) and Crockett Residence (Oct. 22)—both presented by The Palm Springs Preservation Foundation for $50 each. Lastly, on Oct. 22, guests can get an exclusive look at the 1936 Plaza Theater on the Celebrate the Restoration of the Iconic Plaza Theater tour, which will be followed by a reception at the Welwood Murray Memorial Library Patio.


Architectural Double-Decker Bus Tours

Credit: David A Lee

While walking tours are among the more popular programs, architectural bus tours are also a mainstay of Modernism Week. We mentioned what’s new, but the classics include the signature Premier Double Decker Architectural Bus Tour and Charles Phoenix Super Duper Decker Bus Tour on all event days, which provide an overview of the most significant midcentury gems. Author and retro pop-culture humorist Charles Phoenix hosts the latter with spirit and laughs on an open-air bus. Bella da Ball’s Celebrity Home Bus Tour features the desert’s queen of drag as she guides guests through a cheeky and casual sunset tour of celebrity haunts, clubs and homes on Oct. 20-21. On those same days, the Twilight Architectural Bus Tour is a one-hour evening view of glowing midcentury architecture. Prices range from $60-120, and whether you’re in it for the historic aspect or simply the entertainment, you can’t go wrong with any of them!



Home Tours

Credit: Eric Chiel

Architecture with a mind for sustainable living is more than fashionable these days—it’s the way of the future. The Sustainable Homes Tour on Oct. 21 takes a look at seven green residences. These stylish homes are an eco-friendly, minimalist-lover’s dream! The Oasis Is Real: Home Tour on Oct. 21 is a self-guided tour of five homes that were built between 1939 and 1970. These homes capture the essence of a desert oasis, highlighting playful design, creative pools and even some swanky bachelor pad vibes. Sunnylands, designed in 1966 by the remarkable A. Quincy Jones, will offer guided tours on all event days, and guests will have the opportunity to tour the stunning 200-acre estate.

Another notable event, the Frey House II Tour, will offer entry into the museum and home of Swiss-born architect Albert Frey. Built in 1964, this iconic estate sits on a mountainside that majestically overlooks the city of Palm Springs. Frey mixed modern materials, such as metal and glass, with local stone to compose this steel-framed home with little impact on the environment.

When it comes to celebrity hideaways, don’t miss The Palm Springs Preservation Foundation’s tour of Frank Sinatra’s Twin Palms estate, designed by E. Stewart Williams in 1947, on Oct. 19. There’s more too—from a sneak peak into the Rat Pack’s playground to the estates of the Movie Colony, guests are in for a modernist revival inclusive of the pre-war Spanish Colonial aesthetic. For those who want a taste of history, don’t miss the Twin Palms Guided Walking Tour: An Insider’s Perspective on the Desert’s First Modernist Neighborhood, which runs the entire festival, showcasing the first enclave of its kind.



Festive Events

Credit: David A Lee

It pays to show up early to this year’s festivities. The Preview Party for Palm Springs Modernism Fall Show is a wine reception and early buying opportunity that will take place the day before the show formally begins. The Fall Show is open to the public on all official event days, and tickets include re-entry.

Ready to shake things up this year? Mark your calendars for the Midcentury Mixology Cocktail Clinic at Mr. Lyons! This boozy educational get-together will take place every day of the week, teaching guests how to shake up some retro cocktails!

For those on the hunt for midcentury treasures, the Curated Vintage Event on Oct. 21 is a must-attend for fashionistas. Retailers and private dealers will gather to display their most coveted vintage pieces of apparel, jewelry and other luxe items. Get ready to add to cart!

Wining and dining has never been more fun at Modernism Week — October thanks to PS Underground. This local dinner theater will offer two lively shows, featuring elegant four-course meals and open bars. This year’s themes are Woodstock (Oct. 20-21), which will immerse guests in a one-of-a-kind interactive experience of music and ambience, and Forever Elvis (Oct. 22.), featuring a brunch and celebration of the legendary King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.



Free Experiences

The week doesn’t only come with a price tag—there are plenty of free events on offer! Lost, Saved & Endangered: Modernist Architecture in Palm Springs is an informative lecture that takes place on Oct. 20. On the same day, Palm Springs Preservation Foundation board vice president Steven Keylon will present The Design of Herbert W. Burns, an overview of the life and inspiring career of this seminal architect. The next day, grab a bike and join the Hot Purple Energy Architectural Bike Ride, which will take you through legendary neighborhoods.

If you’re in need of a coffee table book, don’t miss the A+D Book Sale by the Friends of Palm Springs Library—an impressive collection of architecture and design books. Architectural historian and author Alan Hess will make an appearance at the book sale on Oct. 21. Later that afternoon, buy or bring your copy of The Alexanders: A Desert Legacy for a book signing with author James Harlan. Then, in the evening, join the artist meet-and-greet at Shag’s October Modernism Print Release Party, replete with complimentary cocktails, live music and an unveiling of his latest print.

And for all the retro thifters, The Modernism Yard Sale on Oct. 22 is one of the most popular annual events, featuring vintage furniture and accessories available for purchase. Complimentary donuts and coffee will be provided until they run out, so get there early!

Local insight: As a charitable organization, Modernism Week donates proceeds towards scholarships for local students who are pursuing degrees in architecture and design. Since 2011, Modernism Week has provided more than $285,000 in scholarship funding!

To purchase tickets to this year’s event, click here!

Modernism Week — October


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Lauren McCarran is a freelance writer specializing in content creation for media outlets. Her work with numerous publications and brands has helped her develop a unique and engaging writing style. Lauren loves to keep a finger on the ever pulsating world of pop-culture while staying in the know of the latest trends and happenings.




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