Outdoor Festivals in San Francisco

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February 28, 2018

9 Free Outdoor Performances in San Francisco You Can't Miss

There are a million reasons to love San Francisco, and one of the best is the weather. Year-round, San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area provide residents and tourist alike with temperate weather, which means that it's almost always comfortable to do things outside!

Not only is San Francisco blessed with the delightful weather, but it's also a cultural hotspot. Countless art, music, dance, and theater organizations create and produce outstanding performances year-round. And, thanks to our awesome climate and lots of beautiful outdoor parks and venues, many of these happen outside.

The best part about all of this? A lot of these performances are free! So, if you're looking for the best free outdoor performances in San Francisco in the year to come, you'll want to check out the following:

Film Night in the Park

Film Night in the Park is a free outdoor film series that happens every summer in parks across San Francisco. The event usually runs from early June to mid-September, and it takes place in locations like Dolores Park and Union Square. Some films are family-friendly while others are more grown up, but all are free. Stay tuned to learn more about the lineup of movies and how to get to each one.

Golden Gate Park Band

The Golden Gate Park Band will perform for free at the Spreckels Temple of Music in the Music Concourse in Golden Gate Park, every Sunday between April and October. Expect the concerts to begin around 1 p.m. and end around 2:30 p.m. At each show, the band presents music from a specific culture, paired with dancers, speakers, singers, and more who will provide more information and entertainment. This year, the band will be under the direction of a new maestro, Robert Calonico. Stay tuned for specific showtimes and performances. To get to there, you can take the 5 or 7 Muni bus from downtown to Stanyan Street and walk to the closest park entrance.

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

Every October, this music festival fills Golden Gate Park for a full weekend with nearly 100 performers on seven stages. The festival's title is apropos, since you can find everything from country to punk rock being played throughout the weekend. Past performers have included everyone from local unknowns to megastars like Randy Newman, Cheap Trick, and Emmylou Harris. This year's event is already on the calendar for Oct. 5-7, 2018.

Opera in the Park

On September 9, 2018, head to Robin Williams Meadow in Golden Gate Park to enjoy Opera in the Park, a free concert from San Francisco Opera. This event kicks off the Opera's regular season, and it includes some of the best songs and stars from the season to come. The event begins at 1:30 p.m., and it offers accessible seating and restrooms. To get to there, you can take the 5 or 7 Muni bus from downtown to Stanyan Street and walk to the closest park entrance.

Peace in the Park

Another free event in Golden Gate Park is Peace in the Park, a festival focused on promoting health, peace and well-being. The event happens annually in September, and it features a wide range of world music performances. While you're at the event, you can also participate in meditation sessions, hear lectures from experts in healing and wellness, take yoga classes, eat vegetarian food, and much, much more. The event lasts from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Shakespeare in the Park

See excellent live theater with the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival's free performances of Shakespeare in the Park. In 2018, the company will perform A Midsummer Night's Dream in five locations across the area, including Pleasanton, Cupertino, Redwood City, and San Francisco. While the date, venues and times have not been announced yet, you can expect the performance dates to happen between June and September. Shakespeare in the Park is an incredible opportunity to see world-class theater at no cost to you.

Stern Grove Festival

This year, the  Stern Grove Festival will happen between June 17-Aug. 19 at Sigmund Stern Grove (which is at 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard). The festival includes admission-free concerts every Sunday at 2 p.m, and you can expect a diverse lineup of performers that includes music and dance from cultures across the globe. The lineup for this year's festival will officially be announced on May 1, 2018.

Union Square Live

Beginning in May 2018, you can attend a free, live weekly series of performances in the heart of San Francisco called Union Square Live. The event runs through October, and while performers have not been announced yet, the series is committed to showcasing the rich diversity and cultural history of San Francisco through live performance. Union Square is very easily accessible by public transportation. Just take BART or Muni to the Powell Street station.

Yerba Buena Gardens Festival

The Yerba Buena Gardens Festival isn't just a short event; in fact, it's a six-month-long series of concerts and outdoor events that are totally free to the public. The series runs from May to October and includes a wide range of performance types, including poetry readings, puppet shows, global music concerts, dance recitals, solo singer-songwriter shows, and much, much more. You can expect to find a live show happening at the Yerba Buena Gardens nearly every day of the week, and you can get there easily by taking BART or Muni to the Powell or Montgomery Street stations.

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