A beautiful hilly city in northern California, San Francisco is located on the edge of a peninsula that is circled by the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay. It is best known for the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, which every tourist needs a picture with. Also, the city is famous for its all-year-round fog, cable cars that overlook spectacular city views, and the many gorgeous Victorian houses. One of its many attractions is Alcatraz Island, which is in the bay and is a notorious old prison. Apart from the many tourist destinations available here, the city also boasts of various festivals that will surely be enjoyed by everyone. They have family-friendly fairs, LGBT celebrations, beer fests, and a lot more. In case you want an overview of the events of the city, check out our list of the festivals in San Francisco, California.
1. Chinese New Year Festival and Parade
The biggest Chinese New Year celebration outside of Asia, the Chinese New Year Festival and Parade started in 1860s, brought to you by Southwest Airlines, and hosted by San Francisco Chinese Chamber of Commerce. It aims to share the Chinese culture to the locals of California and the world as a whole. The parade starts from Market Street and ends at Chinatown. It is one of the grandest parades you’ll ever see, which is a unification of the Chinese Lantern Festival and a regular American street parade. It features extravagant floats, lion dancers, firework displays, acrobats, marching bands, and for the finale and the start of the parade, the Golden Dragon. The Golden Dragon is from Foshan, China, and has a length of 268 ft (87.78 m), which 100 members of the martial art group, White Crane, carry during the parade.
Chinese New Year Festival and Parade
Address: Market Street - Chinatown, San Francisco, California
Website: Chinese New Year Festival and Parade
Takes place: Feb 8, 2020: 5pm - 9pm
2. Union Street Festival
Located in San Francisco’s Marina District, Union Street Festival is a two-day event, starting from 10 am to 6 pm on both days. It is one of the largest outdoor fairs in the city, which runs from the streets of Gough and Fillmore in Union Street. This event is one of the most awaited festivities in the city that features live music, local restaurant goodies, and over 100 boutique vendors. It is also overflowing with foods and drinks, where you can sample wines, craft beers, local foods, and more. Additionally, you can see and buy local arts and photographs here.
Union Street Festival
Address: Union Street ~ Gough to Fillmore, San Francisco, California
Website: Union Street Festival
Takes place: Jun
3. San Francisco Carnaval's Grand Parade and Festival
Another festival that happens in Mission District, San Francisco Carnaval’s Grand Parade and Festival is a two-day event that showcases cultures of Latin America as well as Carribean arts and customs. The festival’s scene concentrates on Harrison Street and features arts, food, crafts, music, and more. One of the highlights of this festival is the Grand Parade, which features cultural floats and different dance groups depicting different cultures. An example is the Caribbean contingents, which include Bahamas, Trinidad, Cuba, and Puerto Rico, dancers. Other cultures joining the festival include African drummers, Polynesian dancers, Mexican Aztec performers, etc.
San Francisco Carnaval's Grand Parade and Festival
Takes place: May 23, 2020 - May 24, 2020
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4. ZAP Wine Festival
If you’re a wine enthusiast, then you surely know about this annual wine event in San Francisco. The ZAP Wine Festival is a wine-tasting event that happens in three venues at the Embarcadero, Palace Hotel, One Market, and Pier 27. It is ZAP or Zinfandel Advocates and Producers’ unique way of letting people taste their wines. On the duration of three days, you’ll be sampling wines, learning about this popular wine brand, and meeting other wine lovers as well as top producers.
ZAP Wine Festival
Address: One Market, Palace Hotel, and Pier 27, San Francisco, California
Website: ZAP Wine Festival
Takes place: Jan 30, 2020 - Feb 1, 2020
5. North Beach Festival
On its 65th year, the North Beach Festival is one of the largest street fairs that happen in San Francisco every summer. It is a two-day event in Grant Avenue that features over 30 food vendors, more or less 100 arts and crafts stalls, and a few stages for live music performances for the entertainment of all attendees. Also, you’ll find Italian street painting and an area where kids can draw using chalks. Additionally, on both afternoons, there’s a ceremony dedicated to the blessing of the animals.
North Beach Festival
Address: Grant Ave, San Francisco, California
Website: North Beach Festival
Takes place: Jun
6. St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Drawing 100,000 people every year, San Francisco’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is one of the largest celebrations of the feast of St. Patrick in the world. Since the parade is a huge event and is joined and attended by many, it often happened over a weekend. The parade is composed of many local Irish dance companies and bands, and extravagant floats, as well as the city’s officials, such as firemen, policemen, and politicians. The parade starts from 2nd Street, passes through Market Street, and ends at Civic Center Plaza, which is the primary location of all the festivities.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Address: 2nd Street, Market Street, Civic Center Plaza, San Francisco, California
Website: St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Takes place: Mar
7. San Francisco Fringe Festival
A festival for all theater fanatics, who want to experience something different, watch raw talents, and see local plays, San Francisco Fringe Festival is the biggest grassroots theater celebration in San Francisco, which showcases indie theater. Here, you can choose to watch shows from among 100 theater performances by over 20 indie companies. The venue of the plays will all be at EXIT Theatre Plex, which is in Downtown San Francisco. It has three private venues that can be occupied by between 36 to 80 per venue.
San Francisco Fringe Festival
Address: 156 Eddy Street, San Francisco, California
Website: San Francisco Fringe Festival
Takes place: Sep 10, 2020 - Sep 19, 2020
8. Litquake, San Francisco’s Literary Festival
A festival is San Francisco for all booklovers, Litquake, San Francisco’s Literary Festival is the largest and longest-running literary event in San Francisco that started in 1999. In its first years, the festival only happened for a day. But, today, the celebration lasts for more or less a week. Litquake is attended by literary enthusiasts, local and international authors, and bookworms who want to join the fun. Here, you’ll meet other literary fans in the community as well as listen to author readings and other activities like workshops, discussions, group readings, and tours. Additionally, the venues of the festival include churches, bars, and bookstores.
Litquake, San Francisco’s Literary Festival
Address: 57 Post St #604, San Francisco, California
Takes place: Oct
9. San Francisco Gay Pride
A world-renowned LGBT parade, San Francisco Gay Pride, is a festival to celebrate and at the same time raise awareness, for the rights of the lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender, and their allies. It is held every last week of June and starts from 10 am up to 4 pm. The Pride Parade in San Francisco in 2019 was said to be the largest gathering of LGBT people and their allies throughout the world. It was attended by over 289 parade contingents such as Dykes on Bikes, Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), LGBT-affirming religious groups, and more. The parade looks like a rainbow of colors when seen above, which is a beautiful sight, shouting unity and equality.
San Francisco Gay Pride
Address: Market, Beale, and Eight Street, San Francisco, California
Website: San Francisco Gay Pride
Takes place: Jun
10. A Taste of Greece Festival
The only Greek fair in San Francisco, A Taste of Greece Festival, is one of the most authentic Greek cuisine celebrations in the United States. The festival is held for over 60 years and features Greek wines, pastries, and dishes like gyros, mousaka, spanakopita, and more. You’ll smell the aroma of freshly baked goodies from afar, serving as an invitation for you to join the Greek party. Additionally, there is live music and dancing to add up to its entertainment value.
A Taste of Greece Festival
Address: 245 Valencia Street, San Francisco, California
Website: San Francisco Gay Pride
Takes place: Sep 18, 2020 - Sep 20, 2020
11. Fillmore Street Jazz Festival
An exciting event for all the jazz music fans, Fillmore Street Jazz Festival is the largest celebration of its kind on the west coast. It is attended by many musicians from all over the city, as well as international acts. The festival is a two-day event that happens in the neighborhood of Pacific Heights, which starts from 10 am and ends before 6 pm. Aside from live music performances, the fair also includes many stalls and vendors offering gourmet food, cold beverages, pottery, handicrafts, photographs, and many more. Additionally, the event is free for all, and you don’t have to spend a penny to watch and hear live music from the four stages, prepared by the organizers.
Fillmore Street Jazz Festival
Address: Filmore Street, 94115 San Francisco, California
Website: Fillmore Street Jazz Festival
Takes place: Jul
12. Chinatown Mid-Autumn Moon Festival
Started as a way to boost the energy of the people after the 1989 earthquake, Chinatown Mid-Autumn Moon Festival has been an annual celebration from then on. The celebration starts and ends with a parade. At the kick-off parade, you’ll find lion dancers, marching bands, ribbon dancers, traditional costumes, giant puppets, and more. And at the end of the celebration parade, you can see a White Crane Dragon Show. Also, there are many shows and exhibitions to watch, such as martial arts demonstrating their fighting routines, acrobats doing their stunts, and dancers moving fluidly with the music. Additionally, it has numerous food stands and stalls selling various items like arts and crafts.
Chinatown Mid-Autumn Moon Festival
Address: Grant Ave., China Town, San Francisco, California
Website: Chinatown Mid-Autumn Moon Festival
Takes place: Sep
13. Fleet Week San Francisco
Fleet Week San Francisco is a week-long festival in the city that features aerial shows and ship tours. This free event is an annual fair that happens in the Fisherman’s Wharf district, where you can watch the Blue Angels fly their fleets flawlessly over the SF Bay. You can also catch a cruise and watch the show from the water. Other air shows are brought to you by the Air Force F16, United Airlines, Navy Leap Frogs, and more. Additionally, there are food stalls, live music, and other entertainment throughout the week.
Fleet Week San Francisco
Website: Fleet Week San Francisco
Takes place: Oct
14. The Wharf Fest
An annual event that draws so many people to the bay area, The Wharf Fest’s highlight is the chowder competition. Local restaurants from all over the city will be battling over who’s chowder is the tastiest. If you want to cheer and help your bet win the competition, you only need to pay 15 USD to taste the chowders and decide who has the best chowder recipe. Apart from the cooking competition, the festival also offers live music, food stalls, vendors selling varieties of items, and other booths. Additionally, make sure you plan your route to the Fisherman’s Wharf as the roads easily become congested during the festival.
The Wharf Fest
Address: Fisherman’s Wharf - 431/2 The Embarcadero, SF, California
Website: The Wharf Fest
Takes place: Oct
15. Oktoberfest by the Bay
From the Munich tradition, Oktoberfest is another box office event in San Francisco that features German beer, food, recreation, and entertainment. It is a three-day event that starts on Friday and ends on Sunday. The most popular days during the event are Friday and Saturday, and tickets often sell out in advance during these days, so make sure you book online ahead of time. On the general admission, only the entrance fee and the live music are included, while the VIP tickets have access to the food-buffet, first drink, souvenir mug, private bar, and more.
Oktoberfest by the Bay
Address: Pier 35, San Francisco, California
Website: Oktoberfest by the Bay
Takes place: Sep
Price: 25 USD
16. Chronicle Wine Tasting Event
Another exciting event for all the wine enthusiasts out there, Chronicle Wine Tasting Event, features a wine competition with over 7,000 entries and the largest wine contest of North American wines in the entire world. The wines you’ll find here are judged by professional wine judges from different walks of life, including in the fields of trade, media, retail, education, and tourism. Here, you won’t only be able to taste vintage wines but also gain knowledge about wines, eat gourmet food, and meet many people. Don’t forget to book your ticket ahead of time for less than the regular price and to secure a spot on this annual wine tasting event.
Chronicle Wine Tasting Event
Address: Fort Mason Festival Pavilion, 2 Marina Boulevard, San Francisco, California
Website: Chronicle Wine Tasting Event
Takes place: Feb 15, 2020
Price: 75 USD
17. Fourth of July Fireworks on the Bay
One of the most awaited event every fourth of July in San Francisco is the spectacular fireworks show that happens at approximately 9:30 pm every year. Watch the San Francisco sky studded in beautiful firework at these three superb locations, Aquatic Park, Ghirardelli Square, and Pier 39. Apart from the fireworks, different events also take place over the city and in many houses in San Francisco, celebrating the Independence Day of the United States.
Fourth of July Fireworks on the Bay
Address: Aquatic Park, PIER 39, or Ghirardelli Square, San Francisco, California
Takes place: Jul 4
18. Craft Spirits Carnival
Happening on the Golden Gate Club in Presidio, Craft Spirits Carnival is a two-day event wherein you can taste over 100 premium spirits, including tequila, absinthe, vodka, rum, bourbon, tequila, whiskey, and many more. For an admission fee of 100 USD or 150 USD for a two-day entrance fee, you can taste as many spirits as you can, which you can choose from excellent handcrafted alcoholic drinks from independent distilleries. Apart from drinking, this event also has a variety of dancers and performers to entertain you throughout the night.
Craft Spirits Carnival
Address: 1288 Columbus Ave. STE #307 San Francisco, California
Website: Craft Spirits Carnival
Takes place: Sep
Price: 50 USD onwards
19. Folsom Street Fair
Taking place at the Folsom Street, between 8th and 13th Streets, Folsom Street Fair is the third-largest one-day street event in San Francisco and the world’s biggest leather event that features BDSM culture and goods. This event also has become a charity event, where both local and international non-profit organizations profit. If you donate at least 10 USD, you’ll have 2 USD discounts on every drink you purchase, and also there’s a lot of games, promos, and other stuff, which you only need to donate to be able to join, like spanking for donation.
Folsom Street Fair
Address: 293 8th St, San Francisco, California
Website: Folsom Street Fair
Takes place: Sep
20. San Francisco Oysterfest
Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account
Another event for a cause in San Francisco, Oysterfest, is the biggest festival celebrating oysters in the West Coast, and at the same time, proving that oysters go perfectly well with everything. All proceeds of the event are given to the Surfrider Foundation San Francisco chapter. It is a one-day event that features the finest restaurants in the bay area, and of course, oysters, as well as foods, drinks, and live music. The live music performances are brought to you by many local and international bands like Panic is Perfect and The Soft White Sixties. Additionally, there are games and silent auction, in which earnings will be given to the foundation as well.
San Francisco Oysterfest
Address: Sharon Meadow, Golden Gate Park, 300 Bowling Green Dr (6,973.73 mi) San Francisco, California
Website: San Francisco Oysterfest
Takes place: Aug
21. Annual Presidio Kite Festival
A family-friendly festival in San Francisco, Annual Presidio Kite Festival is a colorful event that revolves around all things kite. It also promotes creativity among kids and adults and also giving the family a chance to bond over an activity. Another great thing about this fair is it is free. The activities you can join here include Kite Making Pavilion, where you create your own kite with a free kit from the organizers, and the Giant Creature Kites & Kite Art Exhibition, where you can see beautiful and unique giant kites dancing in the air. Also, there are many food trucks in the area, for your refreshment needs, and the Taiko Drummers to set festivity’s mood.
Annual Presidio Kite Festival
Address: Main Parade Ground - 103 Montgomery St., San Francisco, California
Takes place: Aug
Another festival taking place at Fillmore Street, Juneteenth is a celebration of the abolition of slavery. The festivity happens every 15th of July, which is the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, at 11am with a parade. Apart from the usual food stand, arts and crafts booths, and vendors selling varieties of items, it also features more meaningful things like a job fair and health and wellness fair, as well as car shows, fashion shows, and beauty fairs. Additionally, you can watch live music performances from the four stages prepared by the organizers.
Address: Filmore St., San Francisco, California
Takes place: Jun
23. International Beer Festival
The best and oldest beer festival in San Francisco, which dates back to 1984, International Beer Festival, is a gift to all beer lovers in the bay area. Also, you will be able to help the students of Telegraph Hill Cooperative Nursery School when you buy a ticket for all proceeds go to the school. You can choose between a regular ticket and a VIP ticket. The regular ticket includes admission fees, unlimited beer sampling in a mug, food from vendors when you buy beer, and other features like live music, games, and more. As for the VIP ticket, it includes every privilege the regular ticket has and also some exclusive perks like mingling with the brewers and producers, early tasting of brews before the event, unlimited access to the Brewmaster lounge, and more.
International Beer Festival
Address: Fort Mason Center, Festival Pavilion, San Francisco, California
Website: International Beer Festival
Price: 60 USD onwards
24. SF Sketchfest
Are you the type of person who prefers comedy over other genres? If so, you’ll surely want to attend SF Sketchfest. It is an American comedy festival founded by three comedians, Janet Varney, Cole Stratton, and David Owen, in 2002. The festival happens in many venues in the Bay Area and features a variety of acts like stand-up comedy, improv comedy, sketch comedy, podcast, and more. You will surely be laughing, from the beginning up to the end of the festival. And, to share the laughter, make sure you bring your family and friends to this unique event in San Francisco.
Website: SF Sketchfest
Takes place: Jan - Feb
25. Outside Lands Music Festival
One of the biggest music festivals in America, Outside Lands Music Festival, is brought to you by Starr Hill Presents, Another Planet Entertainment, and Superfly Presents. Its venue is at the Golden Gate Park, where the hippie movement used to meet. The festival features a wide array of genres ranging from pop to rock, soul, Rnb, and many more. It always has a good lineup of musicians from both the local and international scene. Like the hippie movement, the festival also champions environmentally inclined causes.
Outside Lands Music Festival
Address: Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California
Website: Outside Lands Music Festival
Takes place: Aug
26. Castro Street Fair
Happening in Castro Street, which is the chief gay neighborhood as well as the social center of the Bay Area, Castro Street Fair is an LGBT street celebration that takes place every first Sunday of October. Just like other fairs in San Francisco, this street festival comes with stages for live performances, food vendors, arts and crafts booths, and curated artisan lane where you’ll find numerous Northern California artists. Additionally, Castro fair has donations for an entrance fee to help local charities fund their causes.
Castro Street Fair
Address: Castro Street, San Francisco, California
Website: Castro Street Fair
Takes place: Oct
27. Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival
A three-day music festival that is non-commercial and free for all, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival started in 2001 and sponsored by Warren Hellman, a venture capitalist, who wants the event to be music and community-centered. The businessman doesn’t want the festival to be bombarded with many product placements. During its early years, the festival only features bluegrass musicians, but as time went by, it has opened its doors to many artists from different styles of music, gaining more followers than ever. As proof of its popularity, in 2011, it drew more or less 750,000 people during its three-day run.
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival
Address: San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, California
Website: Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival
Takes place: Oct
28. Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival
One of the most spectacular events in San Francisco, Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates the flowering of the cherry blossoms in Japantown in the Bay Area, which is one of the three remaining Japantown in America. It features a parade that starts at the Civic Center up to the Japantown. Apart from the parade, you should also look forward to the performances of dance groups dressed in traditional Japanese costumes. They will dance folk and classical Japanese dances. Additionally, same with the other festivals, you’ll also find food stalls, arts and crafts vendors, and special exhibits throughout the town.
Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival
Address: 1759 Sutter St, San Francisco, California
Takes place: Apr
Hello, charming San Francisco!
San Francisco is one of the top cities to visit in the United States, not only because of its diverse attractions and beautiful culture but also for the many events that happen all-year-round. If you’re interested in what the city has to offer in terms of celebrations and events, then don’t forget to read our list of the best festivals in San Francisco, California.