Now that it's May, it officially street fair and festival season in SF. And given that this is a city where drinking is pretty much required if it's light out and it's a day that starts with "S," you should know the upcoming fair and event schedule that is now upon us, and extends through October.
Things kicked off last Sunday with the 20th annual How Weird Street Faire, which is always one of the smaller and kookier of our city's street parties. And now you can expect to find something big happening somewhere in the city just about every weekend through the fall, with the typical lull around Labor Day in honor of the Burning Man/end-of-summer exodus.
Below, a complete San Franciscan's guide to spring, summer, and Indian summer, including a few notable items in East and North Bay.
May 11 - Art & Wine Festival
This fest in Oakland's Jack London Square offers tastings from over 20 NorCal wineries, as well as live music, art, and other vendors. Proceeds benefit the Oakland Montclair Lions Club. Noon to 5 p.m., $40, tickets here.
May 11 - Taiwanese American Cultural Festival
Union Square plays host to this 27th annual event featuring Taiwanese cultural immersion, traditional Taiwanese music, dance, food and more. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., free
May 11 & 12 - Alameda Spring Festival
It's a Bay Area Mother's Day tradition to head over to Alameda and see what it looks like when they close down a major street and paint all the children's faces bright colors. Park and Central Streets, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday, free.
May 19 - Bay to Breakers
Straight Pride, as we like to call it at SFist, happens typically on a fairly sunny day, though not always, and for those who don't actually run for sport it involves getting hammered at 7 a.m., walk-jogging through SoMa and Hayes Valley, barely making it over Hayes Hill, peeing in doorways, and collapsing somewhere around the Panhandle or maybe on Ocean Beach. Alaska Airlines is again the main sponsor, Alamo Square will once again be closed and fenced off, and once again there will be no floats or kegs on wagons allowed, even though for decades that was standard procedure. Also "no alcohol is allowed" on the race course, but the enforcement of that is pretty lax! Starts at 8 a.m. at Howard and Main Street, free
May 24 - 26 - BottleRock
Napa Valley's little music fest has grown quite big but it hasn't yet sold out, with big headliners that include Imagine Dragons, Neil Young, Mumford & Sons, and Pharell Williams. There's also a culinary stage featuring Padma Lakshmi, Trisha Yearwood, and Antoni from Queer Eye And, of course, there is a lot of wine. One-day GA tickets are still available. 575 3rd Street, Napa, $159
May 25 & 26 - Carnaval
Celebrating SF's great diversity, this crazily diverse Mission neighborhood fest brings together Mexican Aztec performers, Brazilian-style samba schools with up to 300 dancing members, Caribbean dancers from all over, African drummers, Polynesian dancers, Japanese drummers, and all kinds of other dance and celebratory traditions from Central and South America. It's spread over two days and the Sunday parade shuts down much of the Mission while it's happening. Harrison Street is the center of the rest of the fest with multiple music stages and more. Saturday and Sunday, parade starts at 9:30 a.m. on the 26th, free
June 1-2 - Union Street Fair
The annual booze-fest known as the Union Street Fair is the Marina's chance to wander in and out of house parties and bars together, though the official event also includes a fashion show, live bands, art and craft vendors, craft beer and wine tasting pavilions, and lots more. Union Street is closed down from Gough to Fillmore, and this is the place for Cow Hollow and Marina bros and gals to show off their summer looks and engage in their usual mating rituals, which usually end at Bar None. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., free
June 9 - Haight Ashbury Street Fair
The Upper Haight's own street fair comes a week after Union Street's, and it tends to be a more family affair with an emphasis on old-school hippie costumery and this will be the 42nd annual edition. Upper Haight Street, 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., free
June 9 and ongoing - Sunday Streets
Once a month throughout the summer, Sunday Streets shuts down a major SF thoroughfare and lets everybody walk, rollerblade, and bike on through, with the addition of music, vendors and stuff like a miniature street fair. This one in June is a big one, and it takes place on the Great Highway between Sloat Blvd and Lincoln Way, Lincoln Way to MLK Drive, MLK drive to Bernice Rodgers Way, Bernice Rodgers Way to JFK Dr, and JFK Dr between Bernice Rodgers Way and Transverse Dr. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., free
June 15 - Steampunk Masquerade
It's the fifth annual edition of this steampunk-themed music and art festival, under a big top near the Alameda ferry terminus. It's an afternoon and evening of music headlined by a DJ set by Thievery Corporation's Rob Garza, and it includes circus acts, burlesque, art cars, and more. Kids are welcome if accompanied by an adult, and the fun starts at 4 p.m. $20-$100, tickets here
June 15 - Phono Del Sol
SF's mellowest music festival, in Potrero del Sol Park over at the edge of the Mission District, brings together food trucks, local music acts, and lots of lazy fun. Admission is now free, and the just-announced lineup includes Porches, Chastity Belt, Ah-Mer-Ah-Su, and Boy Scouts. Noon to 7 p.m., free
June 16 and Ongoing Through August 18 - Stern Grove Festival
It's the 82nd year for this beloved summer tradition in San Francisco, and every Sunday for ten weeks there will be a different lineup of free live music in Sigmund Stern Grove, starting the last Sunday in June. This year's calendar includes Digable Planets, Galactic, The Psychedelic Furs, and Pink Martini. See the full schedule here. Free
June 15 & 16 - North Beach Festival
Considered one of the country's original outdoor festivals (according to SF Station), the North Beach Festival will mark its 65th year this year, with beer and wine gardens, two performance stages, 20 gourmet food booths, and over a hundred craft and vendor booths. Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., free
June 20 - 30 - Frameline
The annual LGBT film fest, Frameline, is the oldest and one of the biggest of its in the world, and always coincides with Pride month, culminating on Pride weekend. We don't yet have a festival schedule, but we do know that in honor of the 50th anniversary of the death of Judy Garland (which many say sparked the Stonewall Riots), there's a premiere of a new documentary titled Sid & Judy on June 26. Multiple venues including the Castro Theatre
June 21 - 23 - Clusterfest
This Comedy Central-curated comedy and music festival is in its third year, and will bring tens of thousands of people to SF's Civic Center to hear the likes of Amy Poehler, John Mulaney, Issa Rae, Leslie Jones, Tig Notaro, and Patton Oswalt, as well as musical acts The Roots, Big Freedia, and Girl Talk. One-day and three-day tickets are still available for $109 and $260 respectively, with VIP optional.
June 29 & 30 - SF Pride
While the parade day on Sunday, and in particular the festival grounds around Civic Center, has in recent years been overtaken by straight teens and twentysomethings who all love a reason to wear rainbows and party outdoors, SF Pride remains one of the most massive LGBTQ celebrations in the world, with a parade that goes on for hours and which tends to include huge contingents from the Bay Area's biggest companies. There are also throngs of tourists, and a weekend chock-full of parties for a wide variety of queer and trans folk as well as the Trans March on Friday, and the Dyke March on Saturday.
July 3 through July 7 - Marin County Fair
The annual holiday weekend fest in San Rafael features musical acts each night, and this year's lineup includes Dwight Yoakum, Joan Jett, Cheap Trick, and "ABBA, the concert," featuring an ABBA tribute band. And there's plenty more to see and do for the whole family, per usual. 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael, $12 admission for adults
July 4 - Celebration at the Pier
We say it every year, and every year it comes to pass that the fog obscures most fireworks viewing here in SF. That is unless you hoof it down to Pier 39 or somewhere along the Embarcadero near where they're actually being shot off. There will be (undoubtedly goofy) live music all day at Pier 39 that day, though, and plenty of delighted tourists. Pier 39, fireworks start at 9:30 p.m.
July 6 & 7 - Fillmore Jazz Festival
Now in its 35th year, the Fillmore Jazz Fest will this year feature Kim Nalley, Lavay Smith & The Red Hot Skillet Lickers, and Terrie Odabi. In addition to multiple performance stages, there are plenty of food and craft vendors too. Fillmore Street from Jackson to Eddy, Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., free.
July 5-7 - Burger Boogaloo
Oakland's own garage rock festival also happens over the July 4 weekend in Mosswood Park. The three-day fest, now in its 10th year, is being hosted by John Waters once again, and headliners include The Jesus & Mary Chain, Scientists, and Shannon & the Clams. Tickets here. $10-$169
July 6 - 14 - Ethnic Dance Festival
One of the lesser known but nonetheless popular events in the annual Bay Area calendar is the Ethnic Dance Festival organized by World Arts West. Performances this year are happening at UC Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall, and will include dance from Brazil, Central Europe, China, Congo, Cuba, Hawaii, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, Spain, Tahiti, West Africa, and Zimbabwe. More info here.
July 19 - Uncorked Wine Festival
This is the 14th annual Uncorked festival, celebrating 150 Northern California wines, this time at Fort Mason. Tickets for tastings are $65 to $80, depending if you want early or general admission. Fort Mason, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
July 27 & 28 - Berkeley Kite Festival
Families and kite lovers will love this one, which happens two days, all day, at the Berkeley Marina, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
July 28 - Up Your Alley (Dore Alley) Street Fair
Folsom Street Fair's dirtier, gayer little brother, this fair takes place on a smaller footprint of Folsom around Dore Street, and it tends to be not for the faint of heart. Also, it is 90 percent gay, as opposed to the more diversely attended yet still kinky Folsom. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
August 4 - Jerry Day
Deadheads and fans of the great Jerry Garcia gather in McLaren Park once a year to celebrate the great guitarist's birthday, and it's a truly SF affair. McLaren Park, 11:30 a.m., free
August 9-11 - Outside Lands
The lineup this year includes the great Paul Simon, as well as Childish Gambino, Twenty One Pilots, Kacey Musgraves, Kygo, and Lil Wayne, and just like every year this bougie, foodie fest in Golden Gate Park is sure to be a mix of sun and cold weather, and both the young and not-so-young. Three-day VIP tickets ($815) and three-day GA tickets are on sale for $385. Single-day tickets should be announced sometime soon.
August 24 - Eat Drink SF
The biggest of the Bay Area's food fests happens at Fort Mason each August, with "grand tasting" events all weekend that tend to outshine this fest's Pebble Beach counterpart in terms of the array of food, wine, and cocktails on offer. Also, there are smaller seminars, dinners, and tasting events throughout the weekend. More info here.
August 31 and Ongoing through September 22 - SF Shakespeare In The Park
It's the 37th year for SF's own version of Shakespeare in the Park, which wisely kicks off its season in July not in SF but in the warmer climes of Pleasanton, followed by performances in Cupertino and Redwood City. But in late August/September they return to the city, and this year's 37th anniversary production is As You Like It. The September performances, three weekends in a row, are on the Main Post Parade Ground Lawn in the Presidio, and those are followed with two weekends in McLaren Park at the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater. More info here.
September 2 - Hiero Day
What began as a small, grassroots, Oakland music festival seven years ago celebrating hip-hop, jazz, electronic, and R&B music has grown into one of the hottest tickets of the summer for the hipper set. The one-day fest draws thousands into West Oakland, and a few years back the chaos included a young woman falling through the skylight of a building after a bunch of people climbed up to a roof to get a better view of one of the acts.
September 21-22 - Eat Real Fest
Oakland's take on the food festival, founded by Belcampo Meats' founder Anya Fernald, focuses on the affordable and sustainable, and features hordes of vendors, loads of craft beer, and tons of demos down at Jack London Square. Two consecutive days, free
September 29 - Folsom Street Fair
Hundreds of thousands of people, both fetish-wearing and just gawking, throng to SoMa for this annual festival of kink. (See some older photos here.) In addition to vendor booths, spanking demos, porn stars galore, and lots of beer, there are actual concert stages featuring some often cool acts. (This year's entertainment lineup hasn't yet been announced, but look for it here.) This is also like the high holiday of the local gay calendar, and the weekend is typically filled with parties, and plenty of LGBTQ tourists.
October 6 - Castro Street Fair
Saved from near extinction a couple years back, the traditional end-of-season fair begun by Harvey Milk to celebrate his nascent gayborhood back in 1973 always feature music stages, drag performances, beer stands, vendor booths, and big crowds at all the neighborhood bars.
October 6-14 - Fleet Week
Get set for the Blue Angels to roar overhead once again for this patriotic show of American military might, which includes air shows and more along the waterfront.
October 4-6 - Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
Take Outside Lands, make it free, and add better weather, and you have this beloved bluegrass-centric music fest founded and bankrolled by the late billionaire Warren Hellman. The festival rounds out the SF summer calendar on what is often one of the last warm weekends of the year, and it always brings in big names from Emmylou Harris to Steve Martin to Dolly Parton. Expect this year's lineup to be teased out in the coming months.
October 12 - SF Street Food Festival
La Cocina's almost annual, 10-year-old festival of multi-ethnic street food cuisine happens on a pier in Dogpatch these days, having outgrown and outstayed its welcome on the residential stretch of Folsom near 24th where it used to occur. They also no longer have the price caps that kept items under $10, and there's now a $10 entry fee ($5 in advance), but the fest is a great window into the array of budding food entrepreneurs who are incubating businesses at La Cocina's kitchen in the Mission.