Events in San Francisco, Usa
There is an incredible array of events going on in San Francisco — virtually every day there will be something of interest to anyone going on, and San Francisco’s mild climate ensures that practically every weekend will bring another major festival or some sort of large event. Listed here are just some of the really big events going on:
- Cherry Blossom Festival, Western Addition. April. In Japantown, this kid-friendly event includes a parade, a street fair, and music.
- Fringe Festival, taking place at various theaters in the Civic Center-Tenderloin area. Just after Labor Day. A 10 day festival about theatrical experimentation and having fun, even if you don’t know what you’re doing exactly.
- Haight Ashbury Street Fair, Haight. On the second Sunday of June, people pack the Upper Haight for this event featuring local bands, food stalls and plenty of shopping.
- San Francisco International Film Festival, based at the Presidio in Golden Gate, but smaller events take place throughout the city. Two weeks in Apr/May. Organized by the San Francisco Film Society who is based in the Presidio, but the art-house movies, documentaries, and short films are shown throughout the city.
- Tet Festival, Civic Center-Tenderloin area. Mid-January to mid-February. Celebrate New Year’s Vietnamese style at this festival. It’s a great opportunity to sample some of the delicious Vietnamese dishes that they have in the area.
- Union Street Art Festival, Golden Gate. First weekend in June. This festival attracts many local artists who line the streets displaying their arts and crafts, along with live jazz and classical music performances and an organic farmer’s market.
- Chinese New Year Festivities, Chinatown. January or February. The San Francisco version of the Chinese New Year dates way back, with a colorful, vibrant parade with decorative costumes, lions, deafening firecrackers, “lucky-money” envelopes, colorful banners, ornately themed floats, martial arts groups, stilt walkers, acrobats, and, of course, a 200 foot Golden Dragon.
- Columbus Day Parade, North Beach. This hugely popular parade celebrates Christopher Columbus and Italian heritage. Handmade floats run all the way from Fisherman’s Wharf up Columbus Avenue through North Beach.
- Easter Parade and Spring Celebration, Union Street in Golden Gate. The kid-friendly but diverse festivities include a petting zoo, pony rides, live music, train rides, alfresco dining, and a parade.
- Fourth of July. San Francisco’s main Independence Day celebrations take place on Fisherman’s Wharf. There is lots of free entertainment during the day, culminating with an impressive fireworks display from the foot of Municipal Pier, and at the other end of the Wharf from barges moored off the north of PIER 39.
- Tree Lighting Ceremony at Ghirardelli Square, Ghirardelli Square, Fishermans’ Wharf. End of November. Ring in the holiday season by attending the festivities at Ghirardelli Square. There’s theater, live music, and then at the end they decorate a 45 foot Christmas tree with ornaments, lights, and chocolate bars.
- The San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Parade and Celebration is one of the largest and oldest gay pride parades and festivals in the world, centered in the Civic Center area. It’s a huge, happy, chaotic celebration of diversity, politics, sexuality, and San Francisco wackiness, on the last weekend in June. About a dozen stages and spaces offer everything from square dancing to hip-hop, from a family garden to Leather Alley. It’s a movement, it’s a market, and it’s a party. Both parade and celebration are for everyone — straight as well as gay are welcome.
- Bay to Breakers. Third Sunday in May. An annual footrace that is one of the largest in the country. The route runs from Downtown to Ocean Beach. Many runners do the whole thing in costume, wearing anything from elaborate costumes to wearing almost nothing at all, lending a party atmosphere to the event.
- Critical Mass. On the last Friday of each month, bicyclists in San Francisco (and about 200 like-minded cities world-wide) gather at the north end of Market Street on the Embarcadero and ride en masse to some destination, militantly demonstrating their right to occupy the roads. If you are driving in SF on a Critical Mass day, you will want to listen for radio traffic reports, but if you are stopped by the mass the best thing to do is maintain a good sense of humor and remember that it will all pass in about 5 minutes. Although, tempers can and do flare, and there have been cases where run ins with drivers and bicyclists have gotten violent. If your car is surrounded by bikes, definitely do not move until they have passed or they might feel threatened.
- Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon. Second Sunday in June. Participants (which often include world champions and Olympic medalists) swim 1.5 miles through chilly waters, bike 18 miles, and then run an extra 8 miles. The course winds its way throughout the city, but the transition and finish line is at Marina Green in the Golden Gate area.
- Fleet Week, Fisherman’s Wharf. Usually held in the first week of October, it’s a tribute to the men and women in the armed forces. A flotilla of Navy ships dock on the Wharf in parade fashion, and there are many free Deck tours available from crew members. There are also several air displays by the Navy flyers.
- Sunday Streets. Sundays in the summer, various locations. Find out where and when Sunday Streets is happening and head out for some good times with other walkers, bicyclists, skateboarders, roller skaters, etc. The cars are kicked off of the streets for some hours allowing the neighborhoods to come alive. There are food vendors, bike workshops, music performances, and all kinds of other great events. Sunday Streets is modeled after Bogotá’s Ciclovia.
- San Francisco is a hotbed for underground music; a highly diverse array of musical styles is represented (e.g., rock, pop, experimental, weird folk, and avant-jazz). Shows occur every night, with as many as fifteen small shows occurring each Thursday through Saturday night. Much of this activity is not always well covered in the mainstream media; useful community-driven resources for finding about local shows include Dar Dar Dar and the Transbay Calendar.