San Francisco’s Free Outdoor Performances
It wouldn’t be summer in San Francisco without outdoor concerts and performances. Hundreds of them, in fact, and all for free.
Since these events are free to audiences, but not free to produce, if you see a “Donations Welcome” bucket at the entrance or a friendly volunteer asking for a few dollars, do give. You’ll gain a lot for many summers to come.
Visitors are encouraged to walk, bike or take public transit to all events. For regional transit information call 511 within the nine San Francisco Bay Area counties. For information on public transit within San Francisco, telephone 311 or visit www.sfmta.org.
There are more than 400 free concerts, performances and film screenings. For complete listings. Highlights include:
Film Night in the Park – Park perks in the summer include fresh-air flicks. Every summer Film Night in the Park draws more than 15,000 filmgoers to parks throughout San Francisco and Marin County. Films are presented free of charge on a giant outdoor screen. Attendees are encouraged to picnic before screenings and discouraged from blocking views with chairs and bringing pets. Full details and other locations are posted on http://sfntf.squarespace.com/filmnight/
Golden Gate Park Band – Regular band concerts began in Golden Gate Park in 1882. The Golden Gate Park Band performs every Sunday through early October and the occasional holiday at 1 p.m. in the Spreckles Temple of Music, Music Concourse, Golden Gate Park. History comes alive at the many performances that feature music from specific nationalities and cultures; on these occasions there are dancers, singers, speakers in attendance who “enlighten and entertain,” according to the band’s website.
People in Plazas – The perfect pick-me-up at lunchtime, the series presents 170 free concerts featuring all local performers, July-September. Locations are in 20-plus downtown plazas on or near San Francisco’s main stem. Performances begin at noon.
Shakespeare in the Park – After a circuit through Bay Area parks in Pleasanton, Cupertino and Redwood City, Shakespeare in the Park performs in September at the Main Post Parade Ground Lawn in the Presidio and in early October the Jerry Garcia Ampitheathre in Mclaren Park. One of the major free Shakespeare programs in the U.S., Free Shakespeare in the Park began in 1983.
Stern Grove Festival – The Stern Grove Festival is a beloved San Francisco tradition that began in 1938. The longest running admission-free outdoor music festival in the U.S. runs from June-August. Highlights include San Francisco Ballet and the San Francisco Symphony and the "Big Picnic" on opening day usually features a headliner ranging from the likes of The Doobie Brothers to Janelle Monae. For the full schedule visit www.sterngrove.org or call 415-252-6252.
Union Square Live – Union Square Live presents entertainment on the main stage of Union Square through early October. Live music, dance, movies, circus arts and other entertainment will run the gamut from mariachi to rock. For performance times and information visit www.unionsquarelive.org or call 415-477-2610.