San Francisco is a city that embodies creativity, innovation, and an adventurous spirit. This spirit is evident in its thriving events scene, encompassing a diverse range of events from SF escape rooms, to art shows, and music festivals. From intimate gatherings to large-scale events, there is something for every type of fun-seeker.
In this post, we’ll be exploring some of the best festivals in San Francisco. These festivals represent the city’s commitment to promoting local talent and showcasing the best of what the Bay Area has to offer.
For festival enthusiasts, attending an event in San Francisco is an experience that they’ll never forget. The city is home to some of the most talented artists and performers in the world, and its festivals provide a platform for them to showcase their skills. Whether you’re a fan of indie rock, hip hop, electronic, food, or anything in between, you’re sure to find something that appeals to you at one of the city’s festivals.
In addition to music and performance, these festivals also offer a culinary experience like no other. From gourmet food trucks to pop-up restaurants, festival-goers can sample some of the best food that the Bay Area has to offer. The food and drink offerings are often curated to reflect the local cuisine, offering festival-goers a taste of the city’s vibrant and eclectic food culture.
So, if you’re looking for an unforgettable festival experience, consider visiting San Francisco. With its diverse range of festivals, talented artists, and delicious food, it’s a city that’s sure to exceed your expectations.
SF Sketchfest – January
SF Sketchfest is a comedy festival held annually in San Francisco that showcases a wide range of comedic talent, including sketch comedy groups, stand-up comedians, improvisers, and more. The festival focuses on established and up-and-coming performers and offers a unique opportunity to experience the best in comedy. The festival takes place over several weeks at various venues throughout the city, and includes live performances, panel discussions, film screenings, and workshops. SF Sketchfest is a must-visit event for fans of comedy, providing a comprehensive celebration of the art of comedy and a one-of-a-kind experience for those seeking to connect with the world of comedy in San Francisco.
Noise Pop – February
Noise Pop is a renowned music festival in San Francisco that showcases indie rock, pop, and hip-hop music. The festival focuses on local and emerging artists and provides a platform for discovering new music and connecting with the city’s music community. Over several days, the festival takes place at various venues throughout the city and offers concerts, film screenings, art exhibitions, and panel discussions. It’s a multifaceted celebration of music and art. Noise Pop is a must-visit event for fans of independent music and culture, providing a unique experience for music lovers and a chance to connect with San Francisco’s vibrant and eclectic music scene.
Coachella – April
Coachella is an annual music and arts festival held in Indio, California that is very popular with Bay Area folks. It features a diverse lineup of musical acts and art installations and is known for its impressive stage design and stylish attendees. Coachella has become a cultural phenomenon, attracting not only music fans but also celebrities and social influencers. The festival offers a variety of additional events and experiences such as food, drink offerings, and camping options. Despite its popularity, Coachella remains a unique and special event, offering an immersive and unforgettable experience for attendees. From its music lineup to art installations, Coachella is a must-attend event for those who love music, art, and fashion.
Carnival – May
Carnival in San Francisco is a festival that brings the city’s diverse communities together to celebrate life through music, dance, and food. The event takes place over several days and features a grand parade, live performances, street food vendors, and carnival games. One of the key elements of the festival is its emphasis on diversity and inclusivity. The range of music, dance, and food offerings reflects the cultural heritage of the city and its residents, creating a sense of community and unity. At Carnival in San Francisco, visitors can immerse themselves in the city’s vibrant culture and soak up the energy and joy of the event. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, the festival provides a unique opportunity to experience the city’s diverse communities and celebrate life through music, dance, and food.
The Mill Valley Music Festival is a well-loved annual event in the Bay Area, bringing together music fans from all over Northern California. Held in the charming town of Mill Valley, the festival features a diverse lineup of musical acts in outdoor and indoor venues. The festival is known for its commitment to sustainability, making it an eco-friendly and unique experience. With a focus on community and connection, the festival provides a relaxed and intimate atmosphere for music lovers to come together and enjoy a variety of musical acts. In addition to the music, the festival also offers a range of food and drink options to keep festival-goers fueled throughout the event. The Mill Valley Music Festival is a must-visit event for those seeking a relaxed and intimate musical experience in a charming Bay Area town.
Bottle Rock – May
BottleRock is a popular music festival held annually in Napa Valley, California. The festival features a diverse lineup of top-tier musical acts, along with gourmet food, wine and craft brews, and interactive experiences. The festival has a reputation for attracting a festive, lively crowd and creating a unique, one-of-a-kind atmosphere. The festival takes place over the course of several days, providing music lovers and foodies with an unforgettable experience. Whether you’re there for the music, food, or both, BottleRock promises a weekend of good times and great memories.
Yerba Buena Gardens Festival – May to October
The Yerba Buena Gardens Festival is a free outdoor concert series held in the heart of San Francisco’s Yerba Buena neighborhood. The festival features a diverse lineup of musicians, including world music, jazz, blues, and more, and is known for its eclectic, international flavor. The festival is held over the course of several months, providing music lovers with a variety of musical experiences in a stunning urban setting. Whether you’re a local resident or just visiting the city, the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival is a must-visit for anyone interested in discovering the rich cultural life of San Francisco. With its stunning gardens, top-notch musical acts, and relaxed, community-focused atmosphere, the festival is a unique and unforgettable experience.
San Francisco Jazz Festival – June
The San Francisco Jazz Festival is an annual event that celebrates jazz music in the Bay Area. Held at various venues throughout the city, the festival attracts jazz enthusiasts from around the world with its lineup of both established legends and up-and-coming artists. In addition to concerts, the festival also features workshops and educational programs to deepen the knowledge and appreciation of jazz. The festival offers a range of food and drink options and creates opportunities for festival-goers to connect with each other and the music. The San Francisco Jazz Festival is a must-visit event for jazz fans and music lovers, providing a unique and unforgettable experience in one of the world’s most culturally rich cities. It celebrates the rich history and evolution of jazz and offers a chance to connect with a community of passionate and knowledgeable fans.
The San Francisco International Arts Festival is an annual celebration of contemporary and traditional art forms from around the world. The festival features a range of performances, including theater, dance, music, visual arts, and multimedia presentations. The event promotes cultural exchange and understanding, bringing together artists and audiences from different backgrounds. In addition to main stage performances, the festival also includes workshops, artist talks, and other educational events, making it a complete and enriching cultural experience for everyone involved. Whether you are a lifelong arts lover or just discovering your passion, the San Francisco International Arts Festival is a must-visit event.
The Golden Gate Park Band Festival is a summer tradition that has been taking place for over a century. This festival features a lineup of brass and military bands, performing a variety of classical and popular music. The festival takes place in the picturesque setting of Golden Gate Park’s Music Concourse, making it a perfect way to spend a summer afternoon in San Francisco.
Phono Del Sol – June
Phono Del Sol is an annual music festival held in San Francisco, California. It features a diverse lineup of up-and-coming musicians and established acts across a range of genres, including indie rock, hip hop, electronic, and more. The festival is held outdoors in the Mission District, providing a fun and relaxed atmosphere for attendees to enjoy music, food, and drinks. The festival is known for its community-driven vibe, showcasing local artists and vendors, and offering a variety of food options, including street food and food trucks. In addition to the music, Phono Del Sol also features a number of interactive and engaging activities for festival-goers, such as games, art installations, and photo booths. The festival is a beloved event among music fans in the San Francisco area, providing an opportunity to discover new artists and enjoy a day of music and community.
San Francisco Pride – June
San Francisco Pride is an annual celebration of the LGBTQ+ community in June, marking the start of Pride Month. It is a multi-day festival featuring a parade, live music, food vendors, and a festival with diverse entertainment and activities. The parade is one of the largest and well-known LGBTQ+ events in the world, attracting hundreds of thousands of attendees each year. The festival also includes educational and community events, such as workshops and discussions, and is a space for allies to show their support for the LGBTQ+ community. San Francisco Pride is a vibrant and colorful celebration of diversity, equality, and love and serves as a reminder of the importance of continuing to work towards a world where everyone can live freely and authentically.
Stern Grove Festival – June to August
Stern Grove Festival is a free, outdoor concert series held annually in San Francisco’s Stern Grove park. The festival features a diverse lineup of musical acts from around the world, including classical, world, jazz, and popular music. The festival is known for its relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere, and attracts music lovers of all ages. With its stunning natural surroundings and top-notch musical acts, Stern Grove Festival is a beloved summer tradition in San Francisco and a must-visit for music fans in the Bay Area. The festival is held over the course of several weekends, offering a chance to enjoy music and nature in a beautiful setting.
Fillmore Jazz Festival – July
The Fillmore Jazz Festival is a two-day free event that takes place annually in San Francisco’s Fillmore neighborhood. The festival showcases a diverse range of jazz musicians and includes multiple stages for live performances, food and drinks, and arts and crafts vendors. It’s a family-friendly event, offering children’s activities and educational programs to introduce young people to jazz music and culture. This festival is a must-visit for jazz fans and those seeking to experience the rich arts and culture of San Francisco. With its focus on showcasing the best of jazz and providing an inclusive experience, the Fillmore Jazz Festival is a celebration of jazz music and culture.
Folsom Street Fair – July
The Folsom Street Fair is an annual celebration of the leather and BDSM communities in San Francisco. It is one of the largest outdoor leather events in the world and takes place on Folsom Street. The event features live music, food vendors, and exhibitions and vendors selling leather and fetish gear. The street fair is a space for participants to show off their attire and engage with others in the community. It is also a space for education and advocacy with informational booths and workshops on BDSM and leather culture. The Folsom Street Fair promotes freedom of expression and sexual liberation, fostering a sense of community and belonging among participants. The event is open to everyone and is a unique and exciting celebration of sexuality and fetish culture, attracting a diverse community from around the world.
People in Plazas Market Street Music Festival – July to October
People in Plazas (PiP) is a free summer music festival in San Francisco that presents over 130 concerts in 15 venues along or near Market Street. The festival is run by a non-profit organization and features local musicians playing a variety of genres. PiP supports musicians from diverse backgrounds, including women, people of color, the LGBT community, and immigrants. The festival aims to bring live music to public and private outdoor spaces, providing a break from work and a place to socialize and enjoy the beauty of downtown San Francisco. PiP also provides 600 paid gigs for local musicians and works to activate underutilized spaces through music.
Outside Lands – August
Outside Lands is a true representation of the eclectic and adventurous spirit of San Francisco. This isn’t your average, run-of-the-mill music festival. No, Outside Lands offers a unique blend of top-notch musical acts, local cuisine, and art installations that will leave you feeling thoroughly entertained and satisfied. The lineup of musicians is always impressive, featuring both established legends and up-and-coming artists who are pushing the boundaries of their respective genres. But it’s not just about the music. The food offerings at Outside Lands are an experience in and of themselves, showcasing some of the best culinary talents the Bay Area has to offer. With everything from gourmet food trucks to pop-up restaurants, you’re sure to find something to tickle your taste buds. All in all, Outside Lands is a true celebration of San Francisco’s vibrant and eclectic culture.
Jerry Day – August
Jerry Day is an annual celebration of the life and music of Jerry Garcia, the late guitarist and lead singer of the Grateful Dead. The event takes place in San Francisco, California, where Garcia lived for many years and where the Grateful Dead had a large following. The day features live music performances, food, and vendors selling merchandise related to the Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia. Attendees often come dressed in tie-dye shirts, wearing peace signs, and dancing to the music. The event is a gathering of “Deadheads”, as fans of the Grateful Dead are known, and is a way for them to come together and celebrate the music and spirit of the band. Jerry Day is a family-friendly event that is open to people of all ages. The celebration is typically held in August, which is around the time of Garcia’s birthday.
Burning Man – August
Although not in SF and technically not a festival, when Burning Happens, SF becomes a ghost town, if you know what I mean. Burning Man is a yearly event that takes place in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert and attracts thousands of participants from around the world. The event is centered around the burning of a large wooden statue known as “The Man.” Burning Man is a celebration of self-expression, community, and creativity and is known for its non-commercial ethos and inclusivity. Burning Man encourages self-sufficiency and participants bring everything they need to survive in the harsh desert environment, including materials for their art installations. The “Radical Inclusion” principle welcomes participants to embrace the diverse community, fostering a welcoming and accepting atmosphere. Burning Man challenges participants to reconsider their relationship to society and to one another and is a space where people can imagine and create a better world.
Oktoberfest by the Bay – September
A popular beer festival held annually in San Francisco, celebrating German culture and cuisine. The festival features traditional German music, dance, and games, along with a variety of beer and food options. With its lively atmosphere and festive spirit, Oktoberfest by the Bay is a beloved annual event for locals and visitors alike. The festival is held over several days and is held in a spacious and scenic location with views of the San Francisco Bay, providing an unforgettable experience for attendees. Whether you’re a fan of German culture or simply enjoy a good party, Oktoberfest by the Bay is a must-visit for anyone looking to experience the best of San Francisco’s vibrant cultural scene.
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass – September
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is a much-anticipated annual music festival in San Francisco. Held in Golden Gate Park, the festival offers a lineup of bluegrass, Americana, and roots music performers for free, attracting music fans from all over. The festival spans three days with multiple stages, food and drink vendors, and a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere. Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is a standout event in the San Francisco music scene, providing an accessible and diverse musical experience. If you love bluegrass, Americana, and roots music, this festival is a must-visit event. The relaxed atmosphere, diverse lineup, and accessibility to all make Hardly Strictly Bluegrass an unforgettable experience for music lovers.
Portola Music Festival – September
A music festival in San Francisco organized by Goldenvoice, the producers of Coachella. The festival was designed to feel more adult and less neon-kandi-style than other electronic music festivals, with a lineup that included superstars like Fatboy Slim, Chemical Brothers, and Charli XCX as well as popular up-and-comers like Fred Again and Kelly Lee Owens. The festival attracted a large crowd, and the music was highly praised by attendees. DJ Shadow, Toro y Moi, and Chemical Brothers were among the standout performances.
Yerba Buena Night – September
An annual event that takes place in September. This event transforms the Yerba Buena neighborhood into a lively block party, featuring live music, food, drinks, and art installations. This festival is a great way to experience the energy and diversity of San Francisco’s vibrant neighborhoods.
Treasure Island Music Festival – October
Although it’s been on hold since 2019, the Treasure Island Music Festival is a standout event in the San Francisco music scene, attracting both local and international talent. Held on the man-made island of Treasure Island, the festival boasts breathtaking views of the city skyline and Bay Bridge. The festival showcases a diverse lineup of musicians and artists, offering something for everyone. From indie rock and electronic music to hip hop and R&B, the festival provides a unique and eclectic musical experience. In addition to the music, the festival also features a variety of food and drink vendors, providing festival-goers with a variety of options to fuel their festival experience. The setting of Treasure Island is truly special, with the festival taking place on a man-made island surrounded by water. The location provides a serene and picturesque backdrop, making the festival a must-visit for those looking for a unique and unforgettable experience.
How Weird Street Faire – October
The How Weird Street Faire is a unique festival in San Francisco that brings together a diverse community of people for a day of celebration, music, and art. The festival takes place annually in the city’s SoMa neighborhood and is known for its eclectic mix of music, dance, and performance art. The festival features multiple stages with different music genres, ranging from electronic and hip-hop to live bands and DJs. The festival is also known for its elaborate and colorful costumes, with attendees encouraged to dress in creative and unusual ways. In addition to music and performances, the How Weird Street Faire also features a marketplace with vendors selling handmade goods, food and drinks, and other festival essentials. With its emphasis on creativity, community, and artistic expression, the How Weird Street Faire is a truly unique and unforgettable experience.
Sonoma Harvest Music Festival – October
The Sonoma Harvest Music Festival brings music fans together once again at the B.R. Cohn Winery near Glen Ellen. Presented by the producers of BottleRock festival in Napa, the festival is expected to sell out its 3,000 tickets each day. Music lovers from all over are expected to come and enjoy a day full of live bands and delicious food and drinks offerings. With a lineup of talented artists including headliner Gary Clark Jr., Thievery Corporation, Anderson East, and Lily Meola, the festival is set to be an unforgettable experience. Festivalgoers can look forward to a variety of food vendors and wine brands, making the Sonoma Harvest Music Festival a feast for the senses.
InterMusic’s SF Music Day – October
SF Music Day is a free annual festival hosted in San Francisco’s arts district, celebrating the diverse Bay Area music community through live performances at the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center. Presented by InterMusic SF, the event features dozens of ensembles and various musical styles, supported by donations and grants from foundations, corporate sponsors, and individuals. The festival is a crucial part of the SF Bay Area performing arts calendar and helps InterMusic SF fulfill its mission of promoting collaborative ensemble music.
San Francisco Hip Hop Dance Fest – November
San Francisco International Hip Hop DanceFest (SFIHHDF) presents hip-hop performances from dance companies from around the world. The festival showcases b-boying, breaking, popping, freestyle, locking, clubbing, housing, voguing, and urban choreography. Artists tackle themes such as religion, feminism, politics, technology, and home. The festival includes an after-party, kids freestyle circle, and master classes in the Bay Area. The festival was created by Micaya in 1999 to bring hip-hop dance from the streets to the stage and honor its artistry and diversity. It attracts companies from all over the world and is held at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre in San Francisco.
Whether you’re a fan of indie rock, hip-hop, jazz, or world music, San Francisco Bay Area has something to offer. These music festivals showcase the city’s rich cultural diversity and its commitment to artistic expression. So if you’re looking to experience the best of what San Francisco has to offer, I highly recommend checking out one (or all!) of these fantastic festivals.