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April 2, 2018

Things to Do in San Francisco this April

The Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival is turning 51 and the Giants open on April 3. If that isn’t enough to induce a rampant case of spring fever, maybe these ideas will help.

Macy’s Flower Show Presents “Once Upon a Springtime”

Macy’s annual flower show invites shoppers to enter a world of beauty built on classic fairytale themes. Meet knights, dragons, merchants and more as classic characters come to life amid millions of blooms and whimsical landscapes through April 8, 2018. For a behind-the-scenes look at the flower show, stop by the Visitor Information Center on the lower level of Macy’s at 3 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, and noon and 3 p.m. on weekends. To reserve a space, telephone 415-954-6271.

Humor Us

"Without humor we are doomed,” noted Nat Schmulowitz, an attorney and former San Francisco Public Library trustee, who donated his collection of 93 jest books to the San Francisco Public Library on April 1, 1947. Since then, the collection has grown to more than 22,000 volumes and includes periodicals and audiovisual materials. Every year, the Book Arts & Special Collections Center presents an exhibition based on materials in the collection. This year, “It Must Have Been Something I Ate,” will spark some belly laughs through May 31, 2018.

Aquarium of the Bay “Science Bites”

Kids (and kids at heart) can get hands-on experiences with Aquarium of the Bay’s top predators this month. Take your pick: octopus, March 30-April 3; river otters, April 4-8. The cheekily named Science Bites program delves into the keen hunting skills of these aquatic all-stars.

Never the Same. Always San Francisco Giants.

Opening day for the San Francisco Giants, an unofficial holiday in San Francisco, is April 3, 2018. As they begin their 19th season at AT&T Park they also mark their 60th year in San Francisco. Opening day ceremonies will feature the return of many Giants alumni who span all decades of San Francisco Giants baseball. Fans are encouraged to take public transit and be in their seats by 1 p.m. There are more than 40 special events planned for the 2018 season, including a tribute on Aug. 5 to the 1997 team. Notable giveaways (get there early) in April include the 60th anniversary Willie Mays Bobblehead on April 7, 2018, the Two Flaps Down Hat on April 27, 2018 and the Brandon Crawford Gold Glove Gnome on April 28, 2018.

Rainforests of the Sea

Now open, Expedition Reef is the latest original planetarium show at the California Academy of Sciences. Learn the secrets of the "rainforests of the sea" as Expedition Reef reveals in exquisite detail the breathtaking beauty and biodiversity of coral reefs, and the scientists taking action to restore them.

Keen on Keane

The Walt Disney Family Museum's latest original exhibition, “Make Believe: The World of Glen Keane,” showcases the Disney animator and artist's career and work from “The Fox and the Hound” (1981) to “Tangled” (2010). Keane was the artist behind many favorite characters, including Tarzan, Ariel, Pocahontas, Rapunzel and the Beast. “Make Believe” is on view through Sept. 3, 2018.

Shifting Gears: Museum Picks

Several exhibitions this summer pay tribute to the world of machines and technology. At the Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM), “Contraption: Rediscovering California Jewish Artists” continues through July 29, 2018. Also at the CJM  through July 8, 2018, “The Art of Rube Goldberg” explores the career of this native San Franciscan. One of the most celebrated and influential cartoonists of all time, Goldberg was also fascinated by overly complicated chain-reaction machines. Suggesting possible parallels to the tech industries of Silicon Valley, “Cult of the Machine” continues at the de Young Museum through Aug. 12, 2018. Through paintings, photography, film, and design, the exhibition reflects on the impact of urbanization in the 1920s and ‘30s.

More shows:

  • Bringing historical paintings and sculptures from mainly Hindu and Buddhist traditions together with contemporary photo-based work, “Divine Bodies,” through July 29, 2018 at the Asian Art Museum, ponders the power of transformation, the possibility of transcendence and the relationship of the body to the cosmos. While there, check out the new café from the founders of Bobo Guys.
  • Among several shows recently opened at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is “The Train: RFK’s Last Journey,” on view through June 10, 2018. Bringing together works by artists Paul Fuscon, Rein Jelle Terpstra and others, this multidisciplinary exhibition sheds light on the journey of Robert F. Kennedy’s funeral train from New York City to Arlington National Cemetery on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his death. Four additional exhibitions of contemporary art, media arts and architecture and design will also open in March.
  • “After the Thrill is Gone: Fashion, Politics, and Culture in Contemporary South African Art” continues through Aug. 26, 2018, at the Museum of the African Diaspora. The exhibition features 14 artists who observe the political climate of post-apartheid South Africa through fashion’s embrace of the “new.”
  • The California Historical Society presents “Murales Rebeldes! L.A. Chicana/o Murals Under Siege,” April 7-Sept. 16, 2018. Through photography, sketches, related artworks and ephemera, the exhibition brings to light messages that were almost lost forever.
  • Opening April 20, 2018 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, “Futurefarmers: Out of Place, In Place” is the first comprehensive survey of this internationally known group that was founded in 1995 in San Francisco. Ten key works will be on view including a new “fog-harvesting machine.”

San Francisco International Film Festival

The longest-running film festival in the Americas, theSan Francisco International Film Festival is an extraordinary showcase of cinematic discovery and innovation in one of the country's most beautiful cities. The 61st edition runs April 4-17 at venues across the Bay Area and features nearly 200 films and live events, and upwards of 100 participating filmmaker guests. Director Wayne Wang and actor Charlize Theron, whose new film “Tully” will be screened, are among this year’s honorees.

“She Bends: Women in Neon”

From April 5-June 2, 2018, The Midway Gallery presents “She Bends: Women in Neon.” Curated by Bay Area “bender” Meryl Pataky, “She Bends” is the largest, most inclusive all-female neon exhibition ever put together. The show will also include an opening night event, workshops, demos and other activities. While you’re in the neighborhood, drop by Spring Open Studios, April 21-22, 2018, too.

“Testimony” at the Asian Art Museum

Today, 35 percent of San Franciscans were born in a country other than the U.S. In the 1860s, that percentage was even higher – at least half of the population. In the exhibition “Testimony,” April 5-June 10, 2018, artist Eliza Gregory shares the stories of more than a dozen immigrants, asking them to define, “What does it mean to belong?”

It’s Showtime!

Opening on April 10, 2018, “Head over Heels” at the Curran is the fearlessly fresh new musical comedy from musical legends The Go-Go’s and the award-winning visionaries behind such Broadway hits as “Next to Normal,” and “Spring Awakening.” The show closes May 6, 2018. The regional premier of an insightful and very funny new play, “The Mystery of Love and Sex,” April 13-May 20, 2018, is booked for the New Conservatory Theatre Center. The American Conservatory Theater will present “Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3)" on April 25-May 20, 2018. Inspired by "The Odyssey” and set during the American Civil War, the play fuses classical Greek drama and the soaring spirit of the blues.

Taiko Thunder

San Francisco’s colorful Japantown will burst into full bloom on the weekends of April 14-15 and 21-22, 2018, when members of Northern California’s Japanese American community gather to present the 51st annual Cherry Blossom Festival. Beginning in 1968, the festival has continued to cultivate connections between the U.S. and Japan through demonstrations and exhibitions of popular culture and traditions. Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the five-acre Japan Center, at Post and Buchanan Streets, and the adjacent blocks of Japantown will be filled with hundreds of performers and reverberate to the sound of taiko drums. Classical and folk dancers will perform both weekends, climaxing with the parade on Sunday, April 22.

“A Gershwin Portrait”

On Sunday, April 15, 2018, 25 local singers will pay tribute to George and Ira Gershwin, one of America’s celebrated songwriting duos. Featuring a  parade of beloved classics, including “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “Summertime” and many others, the performance starts at 7 p.m. at Marines’ Memorial Theatre.

A Whole Lot of Shakin’ Going On


April 18, 2018 is the 112th anniversary of the 1906 earthquake and fire. If you’re an early riser, head to Lotta’s Fountain. At 5:12 a.m., civic leaders and history buffs will gather at the corner of Market and Kearny Streets, for an annual commemoration. 

San Francisco Ballet: No Boundaries

What happens when 12 of the most innovative international choreographers are given the opportunity to create with San Francisco Ballet’s uniquely expressive and daring dancers? The result: Unbound, a festival of 12 world premieres spanning four programs over 17 days, April 20-May 6, 2018. Single tickets to this new festival are on sale now.

It's Only Natural

April 21, 2018 is Earth Day San Francisco. Multicultural entertainment, keynote speakers, earth-friendly exhibitors, eco-educational workshops, organic food and drink, kids zone and much more will unfold at Civic Center Plaza. Activities will also include a tribute to the 100-year anniversary of Save the Redwoods League. Alcatraz Cruises along with Hornblower Cruises’ Respect Our Planet, will present a full day of free, family-friendly activities on Saturday, April 21, 2018, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Presidio Trust invites people of all ages to participate in the inaugural Presidio Nature Challenge BioBlitz on Saturday, April 28, 2018. The event is part of the third annual City Nature Challenge, a competition between cities worldwide measuring which city can observe and record the most species of plants and animals.

Julian Schnabel: Symbols of Actual Life

Julian Schnabel’s first exhibition at a West Coast institution in over 30 years will feature new, monumental paintings occupying the Legion of Honor’s open-air courtyard, April 21-Aug. 5, 2018. Inside, the museum’s neo-classical galleries will play host to paintings from the past three decades rarely seen before by the public. The exhibition is part of the Fine Arts Museums’ newly formed contemporary art program, which creates dialogues between living artists and the unique buildings, locations and collections of the de Young and Legion of Honor.

Art Market San Francisco

The Bay Area’s only contemporary and modern art fair, Art Market San Francisco welcomes more than 80 established galleries, as well as innovative newcomers from around the world, presenting a significant selection of contemporary and modern works of art to Fort Mason Center for Art & Culture, April 26-29, 2018. That same weekend is stARTup Art Fair, a unique contemporary art fair in an intimate setting at the Hotel Del Sol. It gives independent artists direct access and broad exposure to art world professionals and the art-loving public.

Leap into Bay Area Dance Week

The 20th annual Bay Area Dance Week (BADW) brings the vibrant world of Bay Area dance to the public, offering more than 400 events—all completely free—April 27-May 6, 2018. BADW includes workshops, performances, classes, open rehearsals and more. First-time dancers can try their hand (and feet) at a variety of dance styles. Art lovers can go behind-the-scenes and see how dances get made. Hardcore exercise enthusiasts can inject a little Bollywood flair into their usual cardio.

We Players Brings “Roman Women” to Palace of Fine Arts


Recently recognized by Backstage.com as one of seven companies around the globe producing groundbreaking immersive theatre, We Players offers up a new site-integrated production at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco’s Marina District. “Roman Women,” April 27-May 28, 2018, features an all-female cast in a new piece highlighting the feminine narrative in the history of the late Roman Republic, through the lens of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.” Performance times vary according to sunset between 6:30 and 7 p.m.

Book Quest

Hop on BART and experience a literary extravaganza at the fourth annual  Bay Area Book Festival  in downtown Berkeley, April 28-29, 2018. Meet 250 top authors covering a variety of genres, including Robert Reich, Pico Iyer, Rebecca Solnit, Alice Waters, Geneen Roth, Sally Kohn, Gary Snyder, Kim Stanley Robinson, Joyce Maynard, and bestselling teen writers Melissa de la Cruz and Sabaa Tahir. Plus, Dave Eggers will debut his first-ever novel for middle-graders.

Curb Appeal


The West Coast’s top designers are busy transforming 465 Marina Blvd. in the heart of the Marina District for the San Francisco Decorator Showcase, which will be open to the public from April 28-May 28, 2018 (closed Monday except Memorial Day). Originally built by architect George McCrea in 1930, the house offers uninterrupted views of San Francisco Bay from its location opposite Marina Green. More than two dozen interior and landscape designers along with artists and photographers have been selected to make over the rooms and outdoor spaces in this three-level residence.

Bay to Breakers

Of all of San Francisco’s unique traditions, none captivates the entire city the way Bay to Breakers does. It’s an annual testament to the creativity, community and resilience that make San Francisco such a popular destination. The race began in 1912 and is now recognized as the longest consecutively run foot race in the world. It is also one of the most creative. Whether it’s a pink gorilla or a cadre of runners dressed as Wonder Woman, participants try to outdo one another by crafting some truly outrageous costumes every year. Need some inspiration? Here are a few of our favorites. Registration is now open. The race is May 20. These are the best areas to stay for Bay to Breakers.

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