What began as a pop-up arts festival has, since 2008, grown into a popular monthly event held, naturally, on the first Friday of each month. Long a popular parking spot for local "food trucks" or catering trucks offering unique gourmet options, the habit of gathering on Abbot Kinney on the weekends grew in popularity until it finally became an official Venice community event. Local merchants on or near Abbot Kinney, the thoroughfare that runs diagonally through Venice, come together every month to feature the best artists, gifts, products and music in the area. Local charities benefit as art aficionados, couples and families descend on the always funky beach community. Possibly even responsible for the rebirth of this eclectic beachfront neighborhood, the First Friday festival is a fun, food truck-focused event with select shops open late, happy hours at select restaurants and special events in popup locations that vary each month. The casual, artistic vibe of the event draws a variety of urban characters, from Westside socialites to trendy urban hipsters and artists who all mingle in the twilight ocean air, sharing their visual and culinary discoveries. For those who wish to check out the unique cultural vibe of Venice, the First Fridays event is a great reason to make the trip. Venice is a special neighborhood in many ways and has a strong presence in the history and culture of Los Angeles. The street that hosts the festival is named for Abbot Kinney, who created the town of Venice around 1905 as a Disneyland-like park with elaborate beachfront entertainment and a series of canals that were navigated by actual gondolas brought from Venice, Italy. In the 1950's and 60's, the area became popular with hippies and was a hangout for rock legends like Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison. Today, the canals are lined with upscale homes, making a terrific spot for strolling before or after your First Fridays experience. Of course, an evening at First Fridays is also a great finish to a day at the beach!