There’s nothing that irks us as much as holing up indoors due to lack of an agenda — especially when the S.F. sun decides to rear its flaky head. Well, sofa-bound days begone, because we’re knee-deep in summer-event season and there are a slew of must-hit shindigs popping up. Yep, we’re here to keep you entertained for weeks upon weeks and have rounded up 20 awesome Bay Area festivals and fairs to add to your iCal, pronto.
Trust us, you’ll never spend another weekend (from now until September!) wondering where to wander. From the monster music fest, Outside Lands, to the Disneyland of DIY, the Renegade Craft Fair, your schedule will be set straight after reading this doozy of a list. So, put on your party pants and start planning a summer of unbridled fun…fog be damned.
Click through for the top summer festivals and fairs in San Francisco!
Fillmore Jazz Festival
When: July 7-8, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
What: Get your jazz hands ready, because the Fillmore Jazz Festival is hitting town this week. Brace yourself for two days jam-packed with live music on multiple stages. Not to mention eight blocks of soul food and fine arts spanning Fillmore Street. It's a great way to connect with our fair city's history rooted in jazz culture.
Where: Fillmore Street (between Jackson and Eddy streets).
9th Annual Temescal Street Fair
When: July 8, noon to 6 p.m.
What: There are more than enough reasons for a day trip to Oakland's hip Temescal ‘hood. And you can add this street fair to the ever-expanding list. With grub from local restaurants (Lanesplitter Pizza and Pub, La Calaca Loca Taqueria, The Avenue, Barlata), stages packed with performers for the young and old, and booths featuring crafts and local wares, you'll get to know your Temescal neighbors in no time.
Where: Telegraph Avenue (between 42nd and 51st streets), Oakland.
17th Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival
When: July 12-15. Screening times vary. See the schedule.
What: Cinephile or not, could there be anything more exciting than watching the classics in a totally unique way? This long-running film fest features live music accompanying the great silent flicks in movie history. This year's screenings include Pandora's Box (starring our timeless girl crush Louise Brooks!), Wings, and The Mark of Zorro. Plus, think of all the gorgeous '20s and '30s fashion parading the big screen.
Where: Castro Theatre, 429 Castro Street (between 17th and 18th streets); 415-621-6120.
3rd Annual Stop & Go 3-D Animation Film Festival
When: July 14, 2 p.m.
What: Hungry for some eye candy? Get ready to have your mind blown. A crop of the best stop-motion animated short films from all around the world will be coming to S.F., thanks to this niche film festival. Trust it's not just for mega film geeks. It’s a doozy, so don’t miss it!
Where: Exploratorium, 3601 Lyon Street (at Jefferson Street); 415-561-0360.
Renegade Craft Fair
When: July 21-22, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
What: Curb your Etsy addiction for a couple of days and shop real-life crafty creations when the Renegade Craft Fair rolls into S.F. Hundreds of local and national indie retailers will be selling everything from clothing and home decor to flora and fauna. There's also grub and drinks if you’re parched from the DIY overload.
Where: Fort Mason Pavilion, Fort Mason Center, Marina Boulevard.
Phono del Sol
When: July 21, noon to 6 p.m.
What: Not to be compared with the much-hyped Outside Lands and Treasure Island festivals, this music event is truly indie and intimate. With The Fresh & Onlys and Unknown Mortal Orchestra headlining this year's lineup and food trucks like Kung Fu Tacos and Kasa Indian Eatery making sure the revelers are satisfied, we're ready to devote an entire Saturday to this must-hit event. Also, did we mention general-admission tickets are only $7 to $10? Score!
Where: Portrero Del Sol Park (at San Bruno Avenue and 25th Street).
Berkeley Kite Festival
When: July 28-29, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
What: Time to let that freak flag (er, kite) fly! We'd like to think this event isn't just for pure kite freaks. It's also for anyone in need of instant sky-eye candy. Sure, there's great grub and live music at this festival. But, to just sit down and watch stunt kites soaring the sky is a rad way to get high — on life!
Where: Cesar Chavez Park at Berkeley Marina, 11 Spinnaker Way (between Breakwater Drive and Marina Boulevard), Berkeley.
15th Annual Bay to Barkers Dog Walk and Festival
When: July 29, noon to 4 p.m.
What: Meet and greet the Bay's cutest furry residents at this fundraiser festival. Aside from a canine-themed crafts bazaar, a doggie spa, games, and contests, a reunion parade for all the dogs adopted from the Berkeley East Bay Humane Society will also take place. Can you say paw-dorable? The money raised here will go to the support and care of local homeless cats and dogs.
Where: Golden Gate Fields in Albany, 110 Eastshore Frontage Road, Berkeley.
SF Chefs: SF Chefs: Food, Wine, Spirits Festival
When: July 30-August 5. Event times vary. See the schedule.
What: Foodies, chefs, vintners, farmers, culinary experts, and hoards of foodie groupies — will all come together to mingle and party at this top-notch food festival. Events range from dinner parties with locally loved chefs and demos to classes and salons, so there's something for every gastronome out there!
Where: Union Square, mostly. But venues vary throughout the Bay.
Stern Grove Festival
When: Now through August 26
What: There’s little we love more than catching a concert outdoors. But when it’s free? Well, that seals the deal. The Stern Grove Festival offers up a slew of artists this year from OK Go to The Stone Foxes — all in a stunning outside setting. We’re so there.
Where: Stern Grove Park, at 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard.
Photo: Via Facebook/Berkeley Kite Festival
When: August 4, noon to 5 p.m.
What: Indie-music artists and the Bay's hippest chefs collide at Noisette. An afternoon that promises bands like The Dodos and Pillowfight to rock out as you feast on eats and treats from The Monk's Kettle, Commonwealth, Flour + Water, Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous, and other hot local-food joints? Our nom is officially on!
Where: Speakeasy Brewery, 1195 Evans Avenue (at East Phillips Boulevard); 415-642-3371.
Nihonmachi Street Fair
When: August 4-5, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
What: If you love Japantown as much as we do, then you'll want to check this out. Two days of food, live music, shopping, and all things Japanese round out this year's festivities. Japantown will be littered with lots of color and lots of balloons. Time to get festive!
Where: 1581 Webster Street (at Post Street); 415-771-9861.
Outside Lands Music Festival
When: August 10-12
What: SoCal’s got Coachella, the U.K.'s got Glastonbury, and us Bay Area locals have the utterly epic Outside Lands. This five-year-old festival just keeps getting bigger, with a 2012 lineup including Foo Fighters, Justice, Stevie Wonder, Norah Jones, Skrillex, Santigold, Franz Ferdinand, MSTRKRFT, Passion Pit, and many more. So, expect the grounds of G.G. Park to transform in a major way. Plus, there'll be local grub to feast on and a Wine Lands tent for libations. So, what will you be wearing?
Where: Golden Gate Park
SF Street Food Festival
When: August 18, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
What: Local foodie org La Cocina wants you to satisfy your killer appetite with food trucks galore! Obviously, we’re not gonna protest this one. Check La Cocina's Twitter to peep which one of your fave companies are heading to the Mission District for this giant street affair. Make sure to bring plenty of cash and, naturally, come very hungry!
Where: Folsom Street (between 26th and 22nd streets).
Rock The Bells
When: August 25-26
What: We can totally prove to you just how huge this music festival is just by rattling off its lineup. Let's start with Kid Cudi, Nas, Common, Jadakiss (remember him?), Ice Cube, Method Man, Redman — and, drumroll please — Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. If you're a hip-hop fan and miss out on this, we'd call you crazy.
Where: Shoreline Amphitheatre, 1 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View.
Photo: Via Outside Lands
San Francisco Shakespeare Festival
When: September 1-23, 2 p.m.
What: Grab that Pendleton blanket you love, head to the Presidio, and soak up some Shakespeare in action. This year's performance, Henry V, is not at all drama-free, but we promise you that watching it is totally dollar-free. Cha-ching!
Where: The Presidio's Main Post Parade Ground Lawn (between Graham Street and Keyes Avenue).
Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival
When: September 8-9, noon to 5 p.m.
What: We'd like to think of Ghirardelli as S.F.'s very own Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory. And this festival is your golden ticket. Enjoy boatloads of samples, choco-themed chef demos, ice cream eating contests, and live music. There's really no way to say nu-uh to chocolate. So, it's best that you give in to the call of your sweet tooth, and just go nuts!
Where: Ghirardelli Square, 900 North Point Street (at Larkin Street).
Superhero Street Fair
When: September 22, 2 p.m. to midnight
What: We're not sure we're ready to see a throng of men in tights (actually, on second thought, we are!). While nothing beats Pride Weekend in our books, we're always up for some more fun-involving Lycra! And if that means partying with superheroes, game on! What will you see in this festival? A superhero fashion-show competition, extreme-sports demos, cirque acrobats, climbing walls, gallery exhibits, interactive games, and a food, drink, and crafts bazaar. BAM!
Where: Indiana Street (at Cesar Chavez Street).
Polk Street Blues Festival
When: September 29-30, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
What: Two days of free, live, good ol' blues music? Why not? Polk Street will be packed with gourmet grub, an arts-and-crafts bazaar, and open cafe seating, while you boogie-woogie the weekend away. As a wise man once sang, "There ain't no cure for the summertime blues." Agreed.
Where: Polk Street (between Jackson and California streets).
Eat Real Food Festival
When: September 21-25
What: There’s a good reason why food fests are so popular — especially in the Bay! Not only do we serve up some of the best eats around, we don’t skimp on the tunes and booze fronts, either. The Eat Real Food fest offers organic street food (it exists!), tasty libations, and swoon-worthy beats. It’s definitely worth crossing the Bay Bridge for!
Where: Jack London Square, 466 Water Street (between Broadway and Washington streets), Oakland.
Photo: Via Renegade Craft Fair