Hello! If you are reading this post you are either planning to attend the TCM Film Festival or are thinking of attending. My goal with this post is to help you get the most out of your experience with the festival and your time in LA. If you are on the fence about attending the festival I also hope that this post can help you decide if it is for you or not. As of now, I do not consider myself an expert on the festival but I am working hard to be a solid source of reliable information for you!

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Planning Your Visit to The TCM Festival

Martin Landau

As long as I have known about the festival it takes place in April, though not always the same week. They do announce the dates of the next festival far enough out to allow for an appropriate amount of time for planning. The more planning you do in advance the more time you can spend actually enjoying the festival when the time comes.


LAX or Burbank Airport are the best choices location wise to the festival. If you are able to fly into Burbank I recommend that over LAX. It is a musher smaller airport and traffic from Burbank to Hollywood is not nearly as bad as what you’ll experience trying to get out of LAX.

I would not recommend renting a car. At least for the days of the festival. With parking being expensive and nightmare in Hollywood it would be a waste of money. However, a car rental would be a great way to see the rest of LA if you have a few extra days before or after the festival.

Uber/Lyft are strong options to help you get from one of the theatres to another. Honestly, it depends on whether or not you have a decent amount of time to walk from one of the theatres to another. The metro, unfortunately, won’t help out with getting to the theatres.

If you walk with a brisk pace you can get from the Chinese Theatre to the Legion Theatre in roughly 9 mins. It can take closer to 15 mins to get from the Legion Theatre to the Egyptian Theatre. Just keep all of this in mind as you figure out how to get to and from your screenings.

If this is your first visit to Hollywood I do need to warn you that there are a lot of people who will bother you trying to give you “free” stuff on Hollywood Boulevard. Just keep walking.


I am only recommending hotels that give you the potential to walk to the hotels from the theatres. This will make things very convenient but will also provide a chance for you to return to the hotel in between movies and go back to eat food in your room if you’d like.

The Hollywood Roosevelt

This hotel is iconic in Hollywood. It was the home of the very first Academy Awards and even had Marilyn Monroe call it home for a point in time. This is a central hub for the festival and within walking distance of all of the theatres. However, staying here can be expensive and since it is a hub for the festival it does book up incredibly quick. If you want to read my review of my experience staying at the Hollywood Roosevelt you can find that post here.

Loews Hotel

This hotel is located in the heart of the Hollywood and Highland Center and is even closer to all of the theatres than the Roosevelt. There is even a direct entrance to the hotel on the second level of the Hollywood and Highland Center meaning that you don’t have to get back on Hollywood Boulevard to return to the hotel after a screening at the Chinese Theatre. I’m in a Facebook group for TCM Festival-goers and this hotel is raved about!

Magic Castle Hotel

There is a really cool perk that comes with staying at this hotel. It gives you access to the exclusive Magic Castle which is one of the hardest places in LA to get into. The Magic Castle is an incredible place to see magic and enjoy a really special evening. I will never forget my time there. The hotel is located on Franklin behind the Chinese Theatre so it is still within a good walking distance of the theatres.

Holiday Inn Express

This hotel is a further walk than the others but will most likely be a more affordable option. I don’t have any experience myself with this hotel but I do trust the Holiday Inns.



in n out burger

Depending on how back to back you want to attend screenings or events it doesn’t leave much of a chance to eat. I would recommend getting as many snacks as you can from Ralphs which isn’t too far from where the festival takes place. In N Out is a must-have in Los Angeles and you can find one on Sunset Boulevard just a short walk from the Roosevelt. The food is really tasty and at a good price. This isn’t going to be as quick as a food stop as Baja Fresh or you can always pop into Starbucks and get the wraps or some of their takeaway food.

What to Do Before the Festival

If you arrive in LA early there are so many wonderful things that you can do. I recommend doing a tour of a movie studio. The Warner Bros Tour and the Paramount Tour are both great choices for movie fans. The Griffith Observatory is a fun spot to visit too! The Formosa Cafe was popular among Old Hollywood. The list could go on and on but if you are interested in finding fun things to do in LA this blog is the right place for you.

burbank warner bros studio

If you have a Citi Card be sure to keep an eye out should they do the opening night event again. I did not hear about it happening in 2019 but I attended this great event in 2017 and 2018. You can read about my experience with that event here.

Festival Venues

*Keep in mind that some of these venues do not allow outside food if they see it in your bag. So please don’t try to enter right after you purchase a coffee.

TCL Chinese Theatre

tcm film festival

There is a large Imax theatre which is the one with the hand and footprints out front. And there are also six smaller theatres as part of this venue. This is one of my favorite places in Hollywood to see a movie because of the history. For movies in the large theatre, there is a greater chance for people with standby tickets to get in. Though for screenings in the Chinese 6, especially ones with guests you will need to wait in line for a very long time to hope you can get in.

Egyptian Theatre

maltin fest at the egyptian theatre

The Egyptian Theatre doesn’t have the same nostalgia that the Chinese offer but it is still a nice theatre for watching movies. This theatre is known to be the strictest about bringing in outside food so please make sure to hide snacks well.

Legion Theatre

This is a new theatre and one that I have not had a chance to check out yet but I heard great things about it during the festival. I’ll update this as soon as I experience it.

Tips for the Movie Screenings

The more expensive your pass the higher priority you are given in line to get access to the screenings. I have not had the privilege of attending the festival with a pass so far. Waiting in the standby line can lead to you getting in but you honestly don’t have much of a good chance with the small theatres. I arrived two hours before the screening of Star Wars in the big Imax theatre at the TCL Chinese. About an hour before the screening started they gave us all numbered tickets.

tcm classic film festival

Once you had your standby ticket you could leave to get food or walk around. We were told to come back 30 minutes before the screening started. It is at the very last minute that you find out if you’ll get in or not. The original standby ticket only helps you keep a place in line and doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get in. Screenings with special guests are also likely to fill up as well.

This festival is pretty incredible for movie fans and truly gives you an experience that you won’t find at any other festival. I highly recommend checking this out if you can.

Looking for other festivals? You can check out my Guide to the Best Film Festivals in Los Angeles.


About The Author

Michelle Ares is the founder and creative director of LA Dreaming. I have a passion for Southern California and love sharing my adventures and experiences with you. I love to travel, find new places to check out, and watch movies. You can follow me on Instagram @la.dreaming

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