Even though it’s been gloomy lately, San Francisco’s summer is right around the corner. And where there’s summer, of course, there’s a gaggle of festivals and fairs to celebrate the season. From four hot
events hitting the city this very week, to the coolest food and music fests through the end of September, we’ve created a warm-weather agenda that’s action-packed with the best this city has to offer. Pack
your shades, and we'll see you out there!
Click through for the top summer festivals and fairs in San Francisco!
artMRKT Contemporary Art Fair
When: May 20-22
What: Nearly 70 galleries from around the world—a good number of them hailing from the Bay Area—will descend upon SoMa for a contemporary art fair with a few historical pieces thrown in.
Where: Concourse Exhibition Center, 620 7th Street (at Brannan Street); 415-487-3293.
When: May 21-22
What: Like a science fair on speed, this two-day festival on the peninsula will feature the latest and greatest creations of over 600 engineers, crafters, and makers of all varieties. Expect to peep a driverless robotic car (designed to run errands for its owner), the world’s largest mousetrap, a traveling planetarium, and Zachary Coffin's famed Burning Man sculpture, Colossus, among other wonders.
Where: San Mateo County Event Center, 1346 Saratoga Drive (at South Delaware Street); 650-574-3247.
When: May 21, 1-6 p.m.
What: Benefitting Save the Bay, this wine and food festival in Ghirardelli Square will feature cooking demonstrations from local chefs, live music, lots of wine tasting, and an educational seminar on noble grapes, all for $50.
Where: Ghirardelli Square, 900 North Point Street (at Larkin Street).
When: May 21-27
What: A celebration of all things locally made, non-profit SFMade will host an entire week full of events, including local factory tours, a pop-up shop filled with ‘Made in SF’ goodies, an SFMade-branded Off The Grid food truck get-together, and much, much more.
Where: Various locations around town.
When: May 25-29
What: Indiepop fans will get their fill of hazy, feel-good tunes at this 5-day music fest featuring 30 bands from across the globe (including Aberdeen, the Beets, and Dominant Legs), performing at six live shows at venues Cafe de Nord, the Richshaw Stop, Dolores Park, and Hemlock Tavern.
Where: See above.
When: June 2-August 19
What: Sponsored by IAMSOUND Records, this intimate (and free!) concert series at the Clift Hotel’s Redwood Room and revamped Velvet Room will feature five events showcasing indie acts the Vaccines, Gayngs, Cults, Dirty Beaches, and others. RSVP at email@example.com.
Where: Clift Hotel, 495 Geary Street (at O’Farrell Street); 800-406-6690.
When: June 12, 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
What: Celebrate the summer and San Francisco’s hippie past at this street fair spanning six Haight Street blocks and featuring food carts, arts and crafts, and lots of tie-dye and funky scents wafting through the air.
Where: Haight Street (at Ashbury Street)
When: June 19-August 21
What: The 2011 installation of this free concert series, established in 1938, will feature 10 different events and diverse acts, including soul masters Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Neko Case, the S.F. Opera, and the S.F. Ballet, all in a gorgeous outdoor amphitheater.
Where: Stern Grove Park, at 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard
When: June 25-26
What: Reserve your feathered boas, rainbow flags, and neon booty shorts for this LGBT-themed weekend with a focus on equal rights (and, for some folks, lots of nudity) and terminating with an amped up parade across Market Street and a raucous after party in the Castro.
Where: Various locations around the city.
When: June 26, 6-9 p.m.
What: This waterfront festival in Richmond (the town, not the district) will feature live performances by the Blank Tapes, sets by DJ Sonny Phono, among others, plus about a hundred Yelp-approved food vendors!
Where: The Craneway Pavillon, 1414 Harbour Way South, Richmond, 510-215-6000.
Fillmore Jazz Festival
When: July 2-3, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
What: More than 90,000 jazz fans will gather on Fillmore Street for this two day fest celebrating the area’s celebrated and historic musical past. Expect live music on every corner, along with soul food, painting, poetry, and a good ‘ol party thrown by Fillmore residents The Brooklyn Circus.
Where: Fillmore Street (between Jackson and Eddy Streets)
When: July 9-10, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
What: For the fourth year in a row, crafters of all types will descend upon Fort Mason Center for this alternative craft fair. Over 100 local and national DIYers will be hawking everything from jewelry and clothing to artwork and garden tools. There will also be local bites and libations for those that’ve worked up an appetite.
Where: Festival Pavilion at Fort Mason Center, Marina Boulevard.
Rockstar Mayhem Festival
When: July 10
What: Get ready to throw those devil signs in the air, Bay Area metalheads! The offerings at this year's Rockstar Mayhem Festival include 13 acts, including Megadeth, Godsmack, Disturbed, and a bunch more.
Where: Shoreline Amphitheatre, 1 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, 650-967-4040.
Gilroy Garlic Festival
When: July 29-31
What: Garlic-rich Gilroy down on the peninsula is hosting a big festival devoted to all things strong and garlicy. Garlic cook-offs, an appearance by Angelo Sosa of Top Chef, a Kip Moore country performance, and more, will all be included. Just don’t plan to make-out with anyone afterwards.
Where: 7050 Miller Avenue, Gilroy.
Outside Lands Music Festival
When: August 12-14
What: The Bay’s answer to Coachella, this 4-year-old festival in Golden Gate Park just keeps getting better and better. This year’s music acts include Arcade Fire, the Black Keys, Girl Talk, the Decemberists, Phish, and many more, along with a killer local food and wine spread.
Where: Golden Gate Park
Nihonmachi Street Fair
When: August 13-14, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
What: Celebrate all things Japanese at this street fair, which will feature traditional dance performances, food, and modern music acts—from jazz to hip-hop. There will also be many opportunities to assist the victims of Japan’s tragic earthquake and tsunami.
Where: Japantown and other locations.
When: August 20, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
What: Local foodie organization La Cocina presents the third annual SF Street Food Festival, which will bring together the best of the best in mobile meal-making. After the main event is over (pssst: bring plenty of cash!), vendors and policy makers are invited to the National Street Food Conference on August 21 and 22 to discuss and assure the future of street meat.
Where: Folsom Street (between 26th and 22nd streets)
SF Electronic Music Festival
When: September 9-11
What: Now in its 11th year, the SF Electronic Music Festival hosts experimental music fans at five events, where they’ll get to hear the trippy beats of Ben Bracken, Pod Blotz, MKM, and several others.
Where: Brava Theater at the de Young Museum, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, Golden Gate Park, 415-750-3600.
Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival
When: September 10-11, 12-5 p.m.
What: Honestly, who doesn’t love chocolate? And especially the Ghirardelli variety! If you want to taste the sweet stuff, instead of just stare at it, you’ll need to shell out $20 (for 15 samples), otherwise, the choco-themed chef demonstrations, ice cream sundae eating contest, and other events are open to all.
Where: Ghirardelli Square, 900 North Point Street (at Larkin Street).
When: September 23-25
What: Basically what’s great about San Francisco dining in a nutshell, this fresh- and organic-focused street food fair includes plenty of tasty food-for-purchase, hand-crafted booze and juices, a Flying Knives butchery contest, food demos, live music, and DIY food fun for all ages.
Where: Jack London Square, 466 Water Street (between Broadway and Washington streets), Oakland.