San Francisco, CA, “The Golden City,” is known for its lively and eclectic festival scene. From the iconic and colorful parades of the Chinese New Year Festival to the exciting Bay to Breakers race, this city knows how to celebrate in style. With its rich cultural heritage, artistic flair, and community spirit, San Francisco is home to a host of festivals to suit a variety of interests. Whether you’re looking , or just curious about what it’s like , join us as we explore ten of the most captivating and unforgettable festivals that grace the streets of this extraordinary city. Prepare to be immersed in a whirlwind of music, art, food and cultural festivities that truly embody the spirit of San Francisco.
1. Out of Lands
Event: golden gate park
is a highly anticipated annual music festival known for its diverse lineup of artists. The festival, which takes place in the beautiful Golden Gate Park, lasts three days and attracts music lovers from all over the world. Outside Lands offers a variety of music genres, including rock, pop, hip-hop, electronic, and alternative. Some notable artists who have performed include Pearl Jam, The Weekend, Kendrick Lamar, Post Malone, and SZA.
2. Fleet Week
Event: Fisherman’s Wharf District
It is a tradition of the United States Navy, United States Marine Corps, and United States Coast Guard, where newly deployed military ships visit various cities for a week-long stay. During Fleet Week, the waterfront comes alive with a series of spectacular air shows featuring aerobatic displays by the Blue Angels. In addition to aerial performances, viewers can enjoy Navy ship tours, Coast Guard demonstrations, and interactive exhibits highlighting the latest technological advances. Fleet Week also serves as an opportunity for the public to express their gratitude and support for the men and women who serve in the armed forces.
3. Opening Day on the Bay
Event: Fisherman’s Wharf District
is an annual celebration that marks the beginning of the boating season in the San Francisco Bay Area. Celebrated on the first Sunday in April, this tradition brings boaters, boaters and water lovers together for a day of aquatic festivities. The event is organized by the Pacific Inter-Club Yacht Association (PICYA) and features a large parade of boats. Spectators line the shores of the bay to watch the procession. Opening day in the bay also includes a number of activities on the water, including boat races, yacht competitions and sailboat regattas. Participants decorate their boats with elaborate flags, banners and themes, creating a visually stunning spectacle on the water.
4. San Francisco Pride
Location: Market Street to 8th Street
Started in 1970, , also known as SF Pride, is one of the most iconic LGBTQ+ celebrations in the world. Typically on the last weekend of June, the event commemorates and celebrates the LGBTQ+ community. The festival and parade draw thousands of attendees from all walks of life, including members of the LGBTQ+ community, allies, and supporters. The highlight of San Francisco Pride is the vibrant and colorful parade that makes its way through the heart of the city. The parade features a wide range of participants, including LGBTQ+ organizations, community groups, corporate sponsors, and individuals who march, dance, and show their pride. The streets are filled with dazzling costumes, elaborate floats, music, and energetic performances, creating an atmosphere of joy, love, and inclusion.
5. Union Street Festival
Event: Cow Hollow District
It is celebrated in late spring or early summer, it draws locals and visitors alike to celebrate the Union Street community. The festival, which spans several blocks, features various activities, entertainment and attractions. One of the highlights of the Union Street Festival is its vendors. Attendees can browse numerous booths displaying arts, crafts, clothing, jewelry, and other unique handmade items. Foodies will find themselves in culinary heaven as Union Street Festival features a variety of delicious dining options. Numerous food vendors offer a wide selection of gourmet delicacies, international cuisine, tasty snacks and refreshing drinks.
6. Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival
Event: japanese quarter
He is an annual celebration that pays homage to Japanese culture and the beauty of cherry blossoms. Held in Japantown, the festival takes place over two weekends in April when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. The festival dates back to 1967 and has since become one of the largest and most important Japanese cultural events in Northern California. The main attraction is the Grand Parade, with impressive floats, traditional costumes, taiko drumming, martial arts demonstrations and vibrant cultural performances, attracting thousands of people.
7. Stern Grove Festival
Months: June August
Event: aft grove
is an annual summer music series that takes place at Stern Grove, a beautiful outdoor amphitheater nestled in a eucalyptus grove. Since its inception in 1938, the festival has provided free, high-quality concerts for the community to enjoy.
The festival takes place on Sundays from June to August and offers a diverse lineup of musical performances spanning various genres and styles. From classical to jazz, world music to indie rock, the festival features an eclectic mix of local, national and international artists. Renowned orchestras, talented bands, and acclaimed soloists such as Janelle Monae, Randy Newman, and Leann Rhymes have graced the stage, captivating audiences with their exceptional performances.
8. Chinese New Year Festival
He is a large and vibrant celebration that showcases the rich traditions and cultural heritage of San Francisco’s Chinese community. It is one of the largest Chinese New Year celebrations outside of Asia and attracts thousands of visitors from far and wide. The festival begins with the famous Chinese New Year Parade. The parade features elaborate floats, colorful lion and dragon dances, marching bands, traditional Chinese performers, and the iconic Golden Dragon, a 268-foot-long creature carried by a team of skilled performers. The parade winds its way through the streets of San Francisco, captivating spectators with its vibrant displays and lively atmosphere.
9. San Francisco Carnival
Month: may or june
Event: Harrison Street between 16th and 24th streets
is a vibrant and festive celebration that brings the spirit of Latin American and Caribbean cultures to the streets of San Francisco. Held annually in late May or early June, the event features a colorful parade, live music, dance performances, and cultural activities. The highlight of the San Francisco Carnival is the Grand Parade, which features beautifully decorated floats, extravagant costumes, and music and dance groups representing various countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Dancers and performers decked out in vibrant outfits display their cultural heritage through traditional dances like salsa, samba, merengue and more. The parade meanders through the filling the streets with energy, rhythm and a kaleidoscope of colours.
10. From the bay to the breakers
Event: San Francisco Bay to Great Highway Breakers
Beloved since its creation in 1912, is an annual foot race that is one of the oldest and most iconic races in the United States. Usually held on the third Sunday in May, the race route stretches 12 kilometers from the northeast edge of San Francisco Bay, near the Embarcadero, to the western edge of the city at Ocean Beach, where the waves break along the Pacific coast. The course shows the various neighborhoods of the city, including , , and the . What sets Bay to Breakers apart from other races is its offbeat atmosphere. The participants, known as “centipedes”, often form teams and run together while connected by a common theme or costume. Many runners dress up in creative and elaborate outfits, ranging from superheroes and historical figures to whimsical characters and group costumes. The race encourages individuality, creativity and a sense of fun.