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Summer festivals in San Francisco

Published October 7th, 2015

Mark Twain famously said: “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” It is a common tourist faux pas to think June, July and August are going to be warm in the city.

It is usually the season of mists, unexpected chills and tourists shivering in shorts and T-shirts, our expert Lucie Young says. What it lacks in warm weather, however, is more than compensated by a full schedule of festivals, parades and street fairs. Here's a selection of what you should look out for in 2016.

San Francisco Silent Film Festival

Films at this quirky cinematic event have a variety of musical accompaniments, including pianists and a Wurlitzer organist. Includes some classic silent movies. If you want to see them all, you can buy a festival pass.

On a film festival theme, watch out, too, for the Jewish Film Festival and the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Film Festival.

San Francisco is calling you for some summer fun. Picture: Shutterstock

Union Street Festival

This popular street fair stretches out over six blocks of the city, in the fashionable shopping area of Union Street. Previously there has been craft beer, wine tasting and six separate themes – fashion, culinary, tech, local, craft, and health and fitness.

North Beach Festival

This is San Francisco’s oldest street party, with live entertainment, gourmet food stalls and arts and crafts. It is situated in the Little Italy district, known for its associations with the Beat Generation, so festival goers are guaranteed plenty of good Italian food. There is also the 'blessing of the animals', a San Francisco tradition that takes place at the National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi at 2pm on both days of the festival.

Summer Solstice

True to its hippie roots, San Francisco gives plenty of opportunity to mark the summer solstice. Justin Herman Plaza at the Embarcadero and Baker Beach bonfires are two known venues. There is also a Summer Solstice Redwood walk in the San Francisco Botanical Garden.


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Stern Grove Festival

This is the oldest free summer arts festival of its kind in the United States. Includes a wide variety of acts, from the local symphony orchestra to well known artists such as Smokey Robinson.

San Francisco Pride

Described as "the largest gathering of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender in the nation", this is every bit as flamboyant and colourful as you’d imagine. You’ll need to get there early, as the crowds can be thick to see the more than 200 floats that participate in the main parade from Market Street.

Fourth of July Waterfront Festival

The biggest day of celebration in the American calendar is marked with live entertainment, food stalls on the waterfront, and a spectacular fireworks display over San Francisco Bay.

Start training for the San Francisco Marathon. Picture: Shutterstock

San Francisco Marathon

The energetic way to take in all the sights of the city, including Golden Gate Bridge. There’s also a new half-marathon, a five-kilometre and a double (ultra) marathon. For a more bite-sized alternative, try the Bay to Breakers later in the year.

Outside Lands festival

Outside Lands is regarded as one of the best summer music festivals in the whole country. It takes over Golden Gate Park. Previous acts have ranged from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers to Kanye West. Watch out, too, for urban gardening workshops and farmer’s market.


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This article was from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

The Daily Telegraph

The Daily Telegraph is a daily morning UK English language broadsheet newspaper, published in London by Telegraph Media Group and distributed throughout the United Kingdom and internationally.