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What's New in San Francisco - February/March 2016

“What’s New” is compiled by the San Francisco Travel Association. Past editions of “What’s New” and a list of “Recent and Coming Attractions” are available in the Media section of San Francisco Travel’s website.

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FOOD & DRINK NEWS

James Beard Foundation to Announce 2016 Award Nominees from San Francisco
The James Beard Foundation will reveal the 2016 James Beard Foundation Award nominees at a live press conference in San Francisco, CA, at 9 a.m. PST on March 15, 2016, at the Presidio Officers’ Club. Nominees in more than 50 categories in the Foundation’s awards programs – Restaurant and Chef, Restaurant Design, Book, Broadcast and Journalism – will be announced.  The nominees will also be shared live via the Foundation’s Twitter feed at twitter.com/beardfoundation.

“San Francisco is home to more than 40 James Beard Award–winning chefs and restaurants. We’re delighted to be taking our 2016 JBF Award nominations on the road to one of America’s great food cities,” said Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation.   

Semifinalists for the Foundation’s Restaurant and Chef Awards were announced on Feb. 17.  Twenty-five San Francisco chefs and restaurants are among the semifinalists. 

The James Beard Awards Gala will take place on May 2, 2016 in Chicago. During the event, awards for the Restaurant and Chef and Restaurant Design categories will be handed out, along with special achievement awards including Humanitarian of the Year, Lifetime Achievement, Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America, and America’s Classics.  

Established in 1990, the James Beard Awards recognize culinary professionals for excellence and achievement in their fields and further the Foundation’s mission to celebrate, nurture, and honor America’s diverse culinary heritage through programs that educate and inspire. Each award category has an individual committee made up of industry professionals who volunteer their time to oversee the policies, procedures, and selection of judges for their respective Awards program. 

 For more information, visit jamesbeard.org. Media contacts: Mary Blanton Ogushwitz, mary.blanton@smapr.com,  Amy Stein Magrino, amy.stein@smapr.com, 212-957-3005.                                                                                                                                  

Off the Grid Returns to Fort Mason for Season of Friday Night Events
Off the Grid, Northern California’s most prolific network of street food markets, has announced the return of their original flagship event, Off the Grid: Fort Mason Center on Friday, March 4, 2016.

Off the Grid: Fort Mason Center will open its sixth season with a diverse selection of food vendors and live music that distinguishes this Friday night event as a Bay Area staple. The marquee evening event attracts 8,000 to 10,000 locals and tourists, every Friday. This year the weekly event will have 31 food vendors, three bars, and popular local bands to add to its unique and lively atmosphere. During the season, Off the Grid will roll out new versions of Cubert – Off the Grid’s pop-up solar-powered event space – and various other surprises including new digital products to allow people to cut the line for special Fort Mason Center-only menu items.

This season, Off the Grid is eager to welcome 11 new vendors and 20 returning favorites, the majority of which will offer exclusive new menu items only available at the weekly event. Patrons will be able to pair their delicious foodie experience, with local wine and beer and cocktails from Rye on the Road, San Francisco’s premier cocktail company. In addition to pleasing the palate, Off the Grid: Fort Mason Center offers guests photo opportunities to capture the Friday night experience including mobile photo booth, DasBus. 

For more information, visit www.OffTheGridSF.com.  Media contacts: Madeline Janning, madeline@wagstaffworldwide.com, Marla McLaughlin, marla@wagstaffworldwide.com, 415-274-2510

Flavor! Napa Valley - Five Days, 40 Events and One Legendary Festival
Flavor! Napa Valley ® is a five-day food and wine festival showcasing world-class wines and culinary star talent in one of the most beautiful wine regions in the world.  The events, which take place March 16-20, 2016, range from local and celebrity chef demonstrations to intimate winemaker workshops, along with grand tastings and one-of-a-kind experiences to support programs and scholarships at The Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone Campus in St. Helena, CA.

Among the many events is “A Celebration of the Judgment of Paris Wine Dinner,” starring CIA alumni chefs.  Toasting the 40th anniversary of the legendary 1976 Judgment of Paris, guests will experience wines from participating wineries including Chateau Montelena, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Freemark Abbey, Spring Mountain Vineyard, Heitz Wine Cellars, Clos du Val Winery, and Veedercrest Wines. It will take place March 17, 2016, at 6-10 p.m. at Silverado Resort and Spa.

For a complete list of events, visit flavornapavalley.comMedia contact: Angela Jackson, Angela@visitnapavalley.com,707-260-0114.  

Chart House San Francisco Opens at the Tip of PIER 39
Chart House San Francisco opened on Feb. 2, 2016 in an iconic location at the end of PIER 39.  With panoramic views of San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, the 12,000 sq. ft. Chart House San Francisco sits above the exact point at which the renowned sea lions “haul out” on the dock.  

Known for high-quality fresh fish, seafood, prime rib and steaks, Chart House’s menu changes daily depending on seasonal availability.  The San Francisco menu is tailored to complement local cuisine while introducing a taste of the exotic.  Menu highlights unique to the San Francisco location include:

  • Dungeness Crab
  • Whole Maine Lobster 
  • Seafood Cioppino
  • Clam Chowder Bread Bowl 
  • Wild Mushroom Flatbread

With a renowned menu, an incomparable setting and impeccable service, the Chart House offers four separate private and semi-private event spaces, seating 25 to 300 guests. Chart House is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. 

For more information, call 415-434-2260 or visit www.chart-house.com. Media contact:Caroline Dawson, caroline@dpwpr.com, 713-224-9115.

Napa Valley Wine Train Offers Pride Ride on March 19, 2016
The Napa Valley Wine Train will offer its  Napa Valley Pride Ride on March 19, 2016.  This special wine dinner will feature some of the Bay Area's most prominent LGBT wine experts.  The evening will begin with a sparkling wine reception in the station followed by a culinary adventure on board the vintage train. Each train car will feature a guest wine host who will be available to share their wine expertise and guide selections throughout the train ride. The Pride Ride creates a perfect environment for meeting and mingling. After the train, the party continues in the station with a Funky Town after-party with VJ, go-go dancers and entertainment by Daft-née. A portion of the proceeds from the Pride Ride will go to the Richmond/Ermet Aid Foundation.

For information and reservations, visit winetrain.com or call 800-427-4124. Media contact: Andrea Guzman, andrea@winetrain.com, 707-253-2160, ext. 214.

ARTS & CULTURE NEWS

Asian Art Museum Kicks Off Golden Anniversary with Pearls on a String, Feb. 26-May 8, 2016
The Asian Art Museum kicks off its golden anniversary in 2016 with Pearls on a String: Artists, Patrons, and Poets at the Great Islamic Courts, Feb. 26–May 8, 2016, This special exhibition takes viewers to the Islamic world in the 16th through 18th centuries, presented in the form of three stories, each centered on a protagonist from a different century and empire: the writer in 16th-century Mughal India, the painter in 17th-century Safavid Iran and the patron in 18th-century Ottoman Turkey. Through 64 exquisite artworks, including manuscripts, paintings, jeweled objects, sculpture, textiles and metalwork, the exhibition reflects the significance of both individualism and collaboration in creating extraordinary works of art. It vividly illustrates an early modern world rapidly changing with the global movement of people, ideas and technologies.

For more information, visit www.asianart.org. Media contact: pr@asianart.org, 415-581-3566.  

New Conservatory Theater Center Continues Season of Premieres
New Conservatory Theater Center (NCTC), regarded nationally and internationally as San Francisco’s premier LGBQI and allied theatre company, continues its 2016 season, featuring exhilarating U.S., regional and world premieres, as well as two extraordinary musicals.  Highlights include:

Mothers and Sons
Regional Premiere
By Terrence McNally
March 4 – April 3, 2016

Buyer and Cellar
By Jonathan Tolins
March 18 – April 24, 2016

On a Clear Day You Can See Forever
West Coast Premiere
Music by Burton Lane
Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner
New book by Patrick Parnell
Based on the original book by Alan Jay Lerner
May 13 – June 12, 2016

For information and tickets, visit www.nctcsf.org. Media contact: Kate Jones Butler, 415-694-6141, kate@nctcsf.org 

Leo Villareal’s Buckyball at the Exploratorium, March 5-Sept. 11, 2016
Buckyball,a towering 25-foot illuminated sculpture that features two nested geodesic spheres will be on display at the Exploratorium, Pier 15, March 5-Sept. 11, 2016. Inspired by the shape explored by futurist and inventor Buckminster Fuller, Buckyball is the creation of New York–based artist Leo Villareal, celebrated in San Francisco for his monumental public sculpture The Bay Lights.

Comprised of 4,500 LED nodes arranged along a series of pentagons and hexagons, Buckyball is animated by custom software programmed by Villareal to display more than 16 million distinct colors. The lights dynamically shift and fade in both sequenced patterns and random order, generating vibrant hues that will enliven the Exploratorium’s public space in both daylight and moonlight.

The spherical, soccer ball–like form of Buckminster Fuller's geodesic domes, which informs Villareal's work, was discovered in a carbon molecule by scientists in 1985. It was coined the "Buckminsterfullerene" or "Buckyball" in homage to him and has since been avidly researched by scientists and material engineers. The installation is free and publically-accessible on Pier 15 along The Embarcadero throughout the exhibition. 

For more information, see www.exploratorium.edu.  Media contact: Shannon Eliot, seliot@exploratorium.edu, 415-528-4444.

Bad Kitty on Stage Comes to San Francisco, Saturday, March 5-26, 2016 
Get ready for hilarious high jinks when Bad Kitty on Stage opens March 5, 2016 at the Children’s Creativity Museum Theater, 221 Fourth St.  The show plays weekends, March 5-26, with performances at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.  Bad Kitty on Stage—a brand new Bay Area Children’s Theatre (BACT) production based on author-illustrator Nick Bruel’s wildly popular “Bad Kitty” books— brings to life the comic adventures of Kitty and her quirky animal friends, not to mention a few zany humans, like Uncle Murray.  The show lasts 60 minutes, with no intermission, and is recommended for ages four and up. BACT has co-commissioned the play with the Oregon Children’s Theatre.  

For information and tickets, visit  www.bactheatre.org or call 925-973-3343  Media contact:  Vivian Auslander,  vivian@vivianauslander.com, 510-524-2941. 

Oscar de la Renta: The Retropective at the de Young: March 12 – May 30, 2016 
The world premiere retrospective of Oscar de la Renta’s work celebrates the life and career of one of fashion’s most influential designers. The exhibition at the de Young Museum will include more than 130 ensembles produced over five decades, and is presented in collaboration with the house of de la Renta and curated by former American editor-at-large for Vogue André Leon Talley. The garments are organized into several thematic sections: early work; Spanish, Eastern, Russian and garden influences; daywear and eveningwear; and ball gowns and red carpet ensembles. The presentation traces his rise and role as designer for many of the most influential and celebrated personalities of the 20th and 21st centuries. Gowns worn by former First Lady Laura Bush, former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Clinton, Sarah Jessica Parker, Taylor Swift, Penélope Cruz and Amy Adams will be among those on view.

For more information, visit www.deyoung.famsf.org.   Media contact: Erin Garcia, egarcia@famsf.org, 415-750-8904.   

CounterPulse Opens in a New Location on March 12, 2016  
CounterPulse provides space and resources for emerging artists and cultural innovators, serving as an incubator for the creation of socially relevant, community-based art and culture.  Their 24th season culminates March 19, 2016, with the Grand Opening Celebration at their new location, 80 Turk St.   Experience a packed season of gutsy, experimental performance from the Bay Area and around the globe.  

Learn more at www.counterpulse.org.  Media contact: Shamsher Virk, 415-626-2060, info@counterpulse.org

Minnesota Street Project Opens onMarch 16, 2016 
Minnesota Street Project will offer affordable space for art galleries, artists and related nonprofits and retail, as well as a location in the heart of the historic Dogpatch district to put down roots and build a dynamic arts hub. Phase 1 of Minnesota Street Project will open March of 2016 at 1275 Minnesota St. in the city’s Dogpatch Neighborhood. While the first building is under construction, Minnesota Street Project will present rotating visual arts exhibits three blocks away at 2291 Third St., which will serve as Minnesota Street Project’s temporary headquarters. 

For more information, visit  www.minnesotastreetproject.com.  Media contact: Press@minnesotastreetproject.com, 415-243-0825. 

Bill Graham and the Rock & Roll Revolution at the Contemporary Jewish Museum March 17-July 5, 2016
The first comprehensive retrospective about the life and career of legendary rock impresario Bill Graham (1931–1991) comes to the Contemporary Jewish Museum on March 17, 2016.  Recognized as one of the most influential concert promoters in history, Graham launched the careers of countless rock and roll legends in the 1960s at his famed Fillmore Auditorium. He conceived of rock and roll as a powerful force for supporting humanitarian causes and was instrumental in the production of milestone benefit concerts such as Live Aid (1985) and Human Rights Now! (1988). As a promoter and manager, he worked with the biggest names in rock, including the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, Santana, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones.  

Learn more at www.thecjm.org Media contact: Nina Sazevich, nina@sazevichpr.com, 415-752-2483.

WOMEN: New Portraits by Annie Leibovitz Launches in The Presidio March 25-April 17, 2016  
WOMEN: New Portraits, an exhibition of newly commissioned photographs by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz, will open to the public in the Presidio of San Francisco on March 25, 2016 as part of a 10-city global tour. Commissioned by UBS, the exhibition of new photographs will be on view at Crissy Field at 649 Old Mason St. through April 17, 2016. Access to the exhibition will be free.

Leibovitz's new work is a continuation of a project that began more than fifteen years ago when her most enduringly popular series of photographs, Women, was published in 1999. Susan Sontag, with whom the original project was a collaboration, called it "a work in progress." The WOMEN: New Portraits exhibition will reflect the changes in the roles of women today and will evolve over the coming year as Leibovitz photographs women in each of the host cities and regions.

Unveiled in London in January, the new portraits feature women of outstanding achievement including artists, musicians, CEOs, politicians, writers, and philanthropists. In addition to the new photographs, the exhibition includes work from the original series, as well as other unpublished photographs taken since. 

Following the Presidio appearance, WOMEN: New Portraits will travel to Singapore, Hong Kong, Mexico City, Istanbul, Frankfurt, New York and Zurich in 2016.  

Learn more at www.ubs.com/annieleibovitz. Media contact: Dana Polk, DPolk@presidiotrust.gov, 415-561-2710.

Bouquets to Art 2016 at the de Young: April 5-10, 2016 
Peonies and Picasso, hydrangeas and Hockney. Art and nature come together to spectacular effect during the annual Bouquets to Art. See arrangements by some of the most innovative floral designers in the Bay Area and beyond, inspired by works from the permanent collection and the architecture of the de Young in this annual fundraiser, now in its 32nd year.

Learn more at www.deyoung.famsf.org/bouquets. Media contact: Erin Garcia, egarcia@famsf.org, 415-750-8904.  

Sonoma International Film Festival Gears Up to its 19th Year 
Now in its 19th year, the Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF) takes place in the heart of Northern California's wine country, and will feature more than 90 hand-selected films, including independent features, documentaries, world cinema and short films. All films are shown in intimate venues and within walking distance of Sonoma's historic plaza. The festival, March 30-April 3, 2016, is dedicated to promoting independent film, supporting filmmakers around the world and inspiring film lovers.

This unique five-day event offers world-class cuisine from local artisans and exceptional wine from Sonoma vintners. Renowned filmmakers, celebrities and industry leaders such as Bruce Willis, Susan Sarandon, Danny Glover and the beloved Robin Williams have walked the festival red carpet and enjoyed the intimate ambiance.

New to this year's event is the SIFF Village, adding new levels of fun and engagement to the celebration. The Village will include a hospitality tent and a daytime screening room, which will transform to a live-performance and entertainment venue at night. Six screening venues will be located in and around SIFF Village, enhancing the festival's walkability. A food court and multiple food trucks will be available, along with a daily happy hour with music, local premium wines and festive cocktails.

For more information and for passes available for purchase, visit www.sonomafilmfest.org. Media contact: Claudia Mendoza-Carruth, claudia@sonomafilmfest.org

New App Guides Visitors at Legion of Honor
The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco have unveiled the official app for the Legion of Honor. Taking advantage of Apple’s latest developments in indoor positioning, the app serves as a personal tour guide for museum-goers, allowing visitors to wander the galleries as if on a private curatorial tour. This is the first app for the Legion of Honor.

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco collaborated with Guidekick, a local start-up that offers a mobile application platform focused on visitor experiences. The first result of the collaboration debuted in October 2015 with an app for the Legion of Honor’s sister institution, the de Young museum. The de Young was the first museum to take advantage of this new technology.

The Legion of Honor app features a 3D map of the building that pinpoints a visitor’s location to ease navigation and way-finding. The app allows a user to select a thematic tour that leads them to a curated selection of works, or to navigate the galleries more freely, as location-aware alerts notify them when they pass by key artworks. The app also offers thematic tours of the permanent collection using images and audio from the museum’s curatorial team, as well as special features on the unique architecture of the building. This original content is available exclusively through the app, and will soon expand to offer information on special exhibitions,

To download, look for Legion of Honor - Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco in iTunes. Media contact: Erin Garcia, egarcia@famsf.org, 415-750-8904. 

ATTRACTIONS & ACTIVITIES NEWS

The Hunger Games: The Exhibition Opens at the Palace of Fine Arts Exhibition Hall for 2016 Run 
The Hunger Games: The Exhibition,” the highly anticipated new traveling exhibition based on the blockbuster movie franchise, opened in the Innovation Hangar at San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts on Feb. 13, 2016 (the closing date has not been announced).

The exhibition invites visitors to step inside and explore the world of Panem as created by the films. Hundreds of authentic costumes and props, high-tech and hands-on interactives and detailed set recreations reveal the amazing artistry and technology that brought these incredible books to life. Visitors will follow Katniss Everdeen's inspirational journey, from her humble beginnings in District 12 to her emergence as the Mockingjay, sparking curiosity and excitement. The exhibit will feature seven galleries including District 12, Tribute Train, The Capitol, Making the Games, District 13, Fan Gallery and Katniss’s Journey.

Highlights include iconic costumes from the films, such as the Girl on Fire dress, the Mockingjay dress and the Mockingjay armor; key artifacts including the Mockingjay pin, Cinna’s sketchbook and Katniss’s bow; and interactives, including an explorable map of Panem, gamemaker’s control table and a stunt choreography interactive.

The San Francisco engagement follows a successful New York premiere at Discovery Times Square.

The blockbuster “The Hunger Games” franchise, one of the most successful motion picture franchises of all time, has already grossed more than $2.8 billion at the global box office and sold 82 million books around the world.  The fourth and final chapter, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2,” has grossed over $500 million worldwide in more than 90 countries and is currently playing on over 30,000 screens around the world.

For more information on the exhibition or to purchase tickets, visit www.thehungergamesexhibition.com.  Media contact: Andrea Bertolini, ABertolini@alliedim.com, 415-591-9614. 

Women’s History Month Celebrated at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park in March 2016
San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park has scheduled several events to celebrate Women’s History Month in March 2016.  Located at the west end of Fisherman’s Wharf, the park includes a magnificent fleet of historic ships, Visitor Center, Maritime Museum, Maritime Research Center, and Aquatic Park Historic District. In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016, the park seeks to connect with and create the next generation of park visitors, supporters and advocates and invites visitors to join in celebrating the centennial milestone.  

Petticoat Progressives and Lost Masters: Women Artists of Aquatic Park
Saturdays, March 12 and 26, 1 p.m. in the Maritime Museum, 900 Beach St.
Discover the unique aspects of this historic district’s architectural and artistic design and learn about one of the first political contests in San Francisco, which pitted the organized women’s vote against the captains of industry. Rangers will also explore the “lost” women artists who worked on the Maritime Museum building for the New Deal’s Federal Art Project.

Women and the Sea: A Singers’ Circle
Saturday, March 19, 1-2 p.m. aboard Balclutha, Hyde Street Pier. Ship admission fees apply.
Join a singers’ circle of songs about women and their many portrayals in maritime history and folklore. Bring songs to share in this ranger-facilitated program. 

Living History Suffragette March
Saturday, March 12, noon and 3 p.m. on Hyde Street Pier. Wheelchair accessible.
Turn back the clock to 1901 and experience a costumed Living History reenactment of a suffragette march in support of women’s right to vote. Join the march or express your support from the sidelines!

World Storytelling Day
Sunday, March 20, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. in the Small Boat Shop on Hyde Street Pier.
In celebration of World Storytelling Day, storytellers, artists, musicians, park staff and partners will take to the stage at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. Touching on this year's theme of Strong Women, a diverse range of storytellers will share their distinctive narrative styles, from film to chanteys to poetry. World Storytelling Day is a day set aside for people across the globe to celebrate the storytelling tradition, foster learning, share inspiration and create connections.

Exhibit: Women Who Changed Maritime History
Throughout March, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Visitor Center, 499 Jefferson St.  Wheelchair accessible.
A photo exposition of the often-overlooked impact of women on maritime history.

Admission to the Hyde Street Pier, Visitor Center and Maritime Museum is free. Admission for historic ships: Adults $10, ages 15 and under free (with adult supervision). Free with national park passes and for active military with I.D.

For more information, call 415-447-5000 or visit www.nps.gov/safr.   Media contact: Lynn Cullivan, lynn_cullivan@nps.gov, 415-561-7006. 

SPiN, a Ping Pong Social Club, Coming to San Franicsco in Late April, 2016
SPiN is an international network of ping-pong social clubs providing consumers with an alternative to the status quo and an outlet for those who prefer to share experiences with others. From a culture that bred surfing and skateboarding, ping-pong offers the element of accessibility to players of all ages, gender or skill to have the opportunity to participate, capturing the juxtaposition of sport and the atmosphere of a night on the town.  SPiN began amidst the lofts of Tribeca and grown onto the streets of New York, LA, Toronto and soon Chicago.  

SPiN draws an eclectic crowd from hedge fund managers to models to lawyers to designers and everyone in-between including celebrities and athletes. Notable influencers often come in to play a game or two with co-founder/owner Academy Award-winning actress Susan Sarandon.

In late April, SPiN will open in San Francisco, south of Market at the corner of Third and Folsom streets.  The new club will offer 12,000 sq. ft. with 19 ping pong tables, a patio with two tables and lounge seating,  a full-service bar and a la carte menu and room to accommodate more than 500 guests overall. 

SPiN venues offer professional Olympic ping-pong tables, VIP private ping pong lounge space, on-site event sales planners (also known as ping pong provocateurs). They also offer access to professional ping pong players to enhance the event experience, organize tournaments or simply for instructional lessons. 

For more information, visit www.wearespin.com.  Media contact: Amy Chan, amy@wearespin.com, 415-636-5995.

Get Rolling With the 2016 Sunday Streets Season
Sunday Streets events encourage recreation, community activities and fun in San Francisco. Sunday Streets closes stretches of city streets to automobile traffic, and opens them to people for several hours on a various Sundays throughout the year so participants can enjoy a large, temporary, public space to bike, walk, run, dance, do yoga, or do any other physical activity. Non-profit and health organizations offer free activities and share information about their services during the event.  Here is the 2016 schedule: 

  • April 10 – Mission District
  • May 1 - Bayview and Dogpatch
  • June 12 - Sunset District
  • July 10 - Tenderloin 
  • Aug. 21 – Mission District
  • Sept. 11 - Western Addition 
  • Oct. 16 – Excelsior
  • Nov. 13* - The Embarcadero (*subject to change until May 1): 

For details, visit www.sundaystreetssf.com.  Media contact: Scott Reinstein; Scott@Livablecity.org, 415-344-0489.

HOTEL NEWS

Westin St. Francis Completes $6 Million Renovation of Meeting and Event Space
San Francisco’s iconic Westin St. Francis has completed an extensive renovation of 50,000 sq. ft. of meeting and special event space. Thirty rooms were renovated including the Grand Ballroom; the Colonial Room appointed with classic Italian murals, elaborate candelabras, and gold-leafed columns separating regal opera balconies; the elaborate Italian Room; the Borgia Room with its jewel-like ceiling was originally the hotel chapel; and the sophisticated St. Francis Suite, the former home of the Pope Family for many years.   

Originally opened on March 21, 1904, the Westin St. Francis offers 1,195 guestrooms, including 41 suites. The hotel consists of two buildings - the historic Landmark Building and the contemporary Tower, which completed a $20 million renovation in 2014. Guestrooms in the Landmark Building showcase San Francisco’s history and charm with high ceilings, chandeliers and ornate woodwork supplemented by modern furnishings and premier views of Union Square. Tower guestrooms offer spacious accommodations with contemporary finishes, marble bathrooms and large bay windows, plus breathtaking views of famous San Francisco icons.
 
Learn more at  www.westinstfrancis.com. Media contact: Gena Egelston, gena.egelston@westin.com, 415-774-0118. 

Hyatt and San Francisco International Airport Announce Plans for a Grand Hyatt Hotel    
Hyatt Hotels Corporation and San Francisco International Airport (SFO) have officially announced that a Hyatt affiliate has entered into a management agreement with SFO to brand and manage a 350-room Grand Hyatt hotel. Located on the airport grounds, Grand Hyatt San Francisco International Airport is anticipated to open in mid-2019.  Hyatt Hotels Corporation CEO and President Mark Hoplamazian and SFO Airport Director John L. Martin participated in a signing ceremony on Jan. 21, 2016 at the SFO Aviation Museum in International Terminal A.

“Realizing a brand new hotel at our world class San Francisco International Airport has long been part of SFO’s Capital Plan, and I am pleased with this new relationship with Hyatt,” said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. “The construction and operation of Grand Hyatt San Francisco International Airport is a major economic win for the entire San Francisco Bay Area region, creating jobs, revenue, and an even better world-class experience for travelers at SFO.”

Located at the entrance to SFO, Grand Hyatt San Francisco International Airport will sit on a 4.7 acre site close to terminal buildings and parking garages with direct accessibility via an AirTrain station to the terminals.  The hotel is being designed with approximately 350 rooms, 17,500 square feet of flexible meeting space, 24/7 business center, health club and spa, indoor heated pool, whirlpool and sauna. Additionally, the food and beverage offerings will include both full-service and casual restaurants, wine and sushi bar, and a rooftop cocktail lounge. 

Construction on the project is expected to begin in the fall of 2016, with completion expected in mid-2019. The facility is being designed to achieve both a four-star designation and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) “Gold” certification for environmentally sustainable design and operation.

Media contact: Doug Yakel, Doug.Yakel@flysfo.com, 650-821-4000. 

SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (SFO)

New SFO Airport Traffic Control Tower Receives Engineering AwardfromAmerican Council of Engineering Companies
The new Airport Traffic Control Tower at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has been honored as the top engineering project in the State of California in 2015.  The tower was recognized with the annual “Golden State Award” by the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) for its innovative and collaborative approach to design and construction.  The new tower is the tallest structure in the United States to employ a cutting-edge vertical post-tensioned system, enabling the tower to remain upright and fully operational after a major earthquake.

The tower officially becomes operational on July 28, 2016.  The facility includes office space for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) personnel as well as passenger walkways connecting Terminals 1 and 2 both pre- and post-security.  Designed to achieve LEED Gold status from the U.S. Green Building Council, the facility features include photovoltaic panels, natural daylight in offices and the public lobby, a roof garden, low-flow plumbing fixture, energy-efficient heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) systems, programmable LED lighting; electric vehicle charging stations, and sustainably-produced interior finish materials.

WOW Introduces Service to Iceland with $99 Fares
WOW air, the ultra-low-cost transatlantic airline from Iceland, will begin flying to the U.S. West Coast in summer 2016 with San Francisco confirmed as their sixth destinations in North America. 

The routes will be serviced by three new Airbus A330-300 aircraft, the first wide-body planes in the WOW air fleet, which will each carry 340 passengers in a single-class configuration. The routes will connect with daily flights to Keflavik from London Gatwick (and other WOW air destinations in Europe), allowing Brits to travel with the airline to Los Angeles four times per week and San Francisco five times a week, all year round. 

Wow Air is offering flights starting June 10 from San Francisco International Airport to Iceland for as little as $99 each way and to many European cities, with a stop in Iceland, starting at $199 each way.  For more information, visit www.wowair.us

Airberlin Airline to Launch Five Flights per Week in Summer 2016
Airberlin, Germany's second largest airline and member of oneworld©, is expanding its route network to the United States, adding San Francisco to its network in May 2016.  Airberlin will fly five times from San Francisco to Düsseldorf, the airline's main long-haul hub.

The Düsseldorf – San Francisco route will return as of May 6, 2016 and initially feature three flights per week, then increase to five weekly flights starting in June, operating every day except Tuesday and Saturday. 

As airberlin is a network carrier with an extensive route network in Europe, special fares for various destinations such as Berlin, Milan or Zurich are also available and accessible with only one stop and convenient connection times.  Visit airberlin.com for more information. 

United Adds Three Major International Destinations
United Airlines, the U.S. airline with the most comprehensive route network and the most trans-Pacific service, will further expand its global reach with new nonstop service from San Francisco to: 

  • Tel Aviv, Israel, with service three times each week beginning March 30, 2016;
  • Auckland, New Zealand, with service three times each week beginning July 1, 2016, expanding to daily service in October; and
  • Xi’an, China, previously announced, three-times-weekly service beginning May 8, 2016, for the summer season.

Each new service is subject to government approval. The airline intends to operate the new flights with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the world’s most advanced passenger airplane.

SFO Welcomes Fiji Airways
Fiji Airways, voted Best Airline in the South Pacific as awarded by Global Traveler, has announced plans to commence seasonal twice-weekly direct services from San Francisco to Nadi, Fiji this summer and next December starting June 16th, 2016.  The flights will operate from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Fiji (NAN) on Thursdays and Sundays, with flight times to provide easy connectivity within Fiji, to Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific Island nations.  Flights will be available for purchase on www.fijiairways.com.

The new services will allow more Americans to visit Fiji and experience the natural beauty of its islands and the world-renowned hospitality of the Fijian people.  The flights will also make it convenient for the Fijian, Samoan and Tongan communities living in San Francisco, to take trips back to their homeland to see family and friends.

The Exploratorium Cleared to Land at SFO
The San Francisco International Airport Commission has approved plans for the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to award a pop-up concession contract to the Exploratorium, an internationally-renowned museum of science, art, and human perception.  The “Exploratorium @ SFO” store, slated to open April 2016, will be an extension of the museum experience which has been a San Francisco favorite since opening its doors at the Palace of Fine Arts in 1969.

Since 1969, the Exploratorium has created a culture of learning through innovative environments, programs, and tools that help people nurture their curiosity about the world around them.  In addition to providing a wide array of educational product offerings, the store will include conceptual and architectural elements of the museum, with exhibits built into the store design.  Employees will not only be well-versed in a product assortment curated for all ages and an airport on boarding setting, but will also be able to facilitate exhibits for an optimal learning experience while visitors shop.

SFO opened its first pop-up concession space with the opening of the renovated Terminal 3, Boarding Area E in January 2014.  Move-in ready spaces were created specifically to encourage small business access to the Airport, reducing the initial start-up costs that traditionally deterred such concepts.  As series of six- or 12-month leases have since rotated through the spaces, adding expanded selection of locally-sourced concessions to the Airport’s nationally-recognized program of amenities.

Media contacts: Shannon Eliot, 415-528-4367, Maria Zilberman 415-528-4377, media@exploratorium.edu 

Renovated Boarding Area and Latest Terminal 3 East Club Now Open
SFO and United Airlines have unveiled the newly-renovated Terminal 3 East Concourse (T3E), featuring a dramatic 53,000-square-foot expansion that creates additional circulation space, new concessions, and enhanced amenities for airport guests.  The $253 million renovation is comprised of a concourse connecting Boarding Areas E and F, a consolidated central security checkpoint, three additional aircraft boarding gates and a new United Club location.

New features and amenities
T3E features eight new retail and dining outlets, including small businesses based in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Free Wi-Fi, 230 power outlets, and 200 USB outlets will allow guests to stay connected and productive. Four new art installations, provided through the San Francisco Arts Commission, along with lounge-style seating areas, transform the space into a relaxing, inspiring environment.  Guest restrooms even feature private changing rooms, an unexpected perk.

New United Club
At just over 6,000 sq. ft., the newest United Club at SFO offers a panoramic view of airport operations and a gallery of photos of United’s history.  Comfortable seating can accommodate more than 130 people who will be able to enjoy a complimentary menu with seasonal choices.

Green Building Design
Renovated through a design-build partnership comprised of Gensler and Hensel-Phelps, the T3E facility includes seismic enhancements to the original 400,000 square foot facility, originally built in 1979, and improvements to heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and electrical load centers to support anticipated LEED “Gold” certification for environmentally-sustainable facility design.

Media contact: Doug Yakel, San Francisco International Airport, Doug.Yakel@flysfo.com, 650-821-4000.

MAJOR ANNUAL EVENTS

FEBRUARY 2016

FEBRUARY 25–APRIL 16 (PRELIMINARY)
Annual Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam
Various locations throughout Bay Area, 415-255-9035
www.youthspeaks.org
Youth Speaks, one of the leaders in Spoken Word performances, works with 45,000 teens annually and is a presenter of local and national youth poetry slams, festivals, reading series and more. Preliminaries take place in March followed by the semi-finals and finals, climaxing with the Grand Slam Finals at Davies Symphony Hall on April 16.  

FEBRUARY 25-27
The Zinfandel Experience
Bentley Reserve and Pier 27
www.zinfandelexperience.org
Zinfandel, often called America’s heritage wine, is the draw here. Join in celebrating Zinfandel’s 25th anniversary. Savor the flavors of this authentically American varietal and experience its distinctly classic personality at several extraordinary events. More than 250 wineries participate in this food and wine tasting which draws some 10,000 wine lovers.

FEBRUARY 26-28
Pacific Orchid Exposition
Fort Mason Center, Festival Pavilion, 650-548-6700
www.orchidsanfrancisco.org
The annual edition of the San Francisco Orchid Society's show dazzles with 150,000 flowers including hundreds of award winners selected by the American Orchid Society. 

FEBRUARY 27-28
The Great San Francisco Crystal Fair
Fort Mason Center, 415-383-7837
www.crystalfair.com
More than exhibitors celebrating earth and spirit with a wide variety of gems and minerals (quartz, amethyst, tourmaline, etc.), jewelry, metaphysics, healing tools and the mystical arts.

FEBRUARY 28
Academy of Friends Academy Awards Night Gala
San Francisco Design Center Galleria, 415-995-9890
www.academyoffriends.org
A gala celebration benefiting Bay Area AIDS/HIV organizations.

MARCH 2016

MARCH 5
Black Cuisine Festival
www.bhpmss.org
Bayview Hunters Point, 1751 Carroll Ave at Third St, 415-822-1444
Kiddieland, dancing, a soul food contest, marketplace and live music are among the draws and this annual tribute to black cuisine.

MARCH 5
San Francisco International Chocolate Salon
Herbst Pavilion, Fort Mason Center
www.sfchocolatesalon.com
Those with a yen for chocolate can indulge in artisan, gourmet and premium chocolate from more than 50 chocolatiers and confectioners. Non-chocolate exhibitors and artisans will be on hand as well including wineries participating in the San Francisco Invitational Wine Salon.

MARCH 5-22
Jewish Music Festival
Various locations throughout San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland, 510-848-0237 ext 126 or 800-838-3006
www.jewishmusicfestival.org
Oldest festival of Jewish world music in the U.S. will take its final bow.  

MARCH 10-13
Ocean Film Festival
Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center, 415-561-6251
www.oceanfilmfest.org
One of the largest and most diverse of its kind, the festival features documentaries, animations, narratives and other traditional screen fare on topics ranging from ocean adventures to island culture and more.

MARCH 10-20
CAAMFest (Presented by the Center for Asian American Media. Formerly San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival)
San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland, 415-863-0814
www.caamedia.org   
CAAMFest is the nation’s largest showcase for new Asian American and Asian films; annually presenting approximately 130 works in San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland. Since 1982, the festival has been an important launching point for Asian American independent filmmakers as well as a vital source for new Asian cinema.

MARCH 12
Bay Area Brew Festival
Pier 35, 415-345-7500
www.bayareabrewfestival.com
The event features dozens of international and domestic beers, and San Francisco’s best food trucks. 

MARCH 12
St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Second and Market to Civic Center
One of San Francisco's largest annual parades and one of the longest-running parades in the U.S. is celebrated with live music, dance, beverages and traditional Irish cuisine.

MARCH 18
ODC/Dance Downtown Gala
St. Regis Hotel and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, 415-549-8508
www.odcdance.org
ODC/Dance, San Francisco’s internationally acclaimed contemporary dance company, presents its 45th annual home season.  

MARCH 18
Dance Anywhere
Bay Area
www.danceanywhere.org
Dance Anywhere ® is a simultaneous worldwide public art performance in which people from around the world, of all ages and artistic capacities will stop at noon (PST) and dance.

MARCH 19
Earth Hour
www.earthhour.org
Major cities around the world, including San Francisco, show that the simple act of turning off lights for one hour can have a lasting impact on climate change starts at 8:30 p.m.

MARCH 20-APRIL 3
Macy’s Flower Show
Macy’s, Union Square, 415-397-3333
www.macys.com
This annual floral tribute is a spring tradition; the two-week celebration includes guest speakers and special in-store events.

MARCH 27
Union Street Spring Celebration & Easter Parade
Union Street between Gough and Fillmore, 800-310-6563
www.sresproductions.com
More than 30,000 people turn out for “the biggest little parade in San Francisco,” which features children’s activities, alfresco dining, the Easter Bunny, a petting zoo and flowers from local garden clubs.

MARCH 30-APRIL 3   
2016 Spring Book Sale
Festival Pavilion, Fort Mason Center
www.friendssfpl.org
Held at Fort Mason Center’s Festival Pavilion, the Spring Book Sale will feature more than 250,000 books, DVDs, CDs, books on tape, vinyl and other forms of media in more than 70 categories.

APRIL 2016

APRIL 1-3
Crossroads Film Festival
Victoria Theater, 2961 16th St., 415-552-1990
www.sfcinematheque.org
Cinematheque celebrates works of aesthetically radical cinema in Crossroads which showcases new film/video works by emerging and established filmmakers, including performance and works of “live cinema.”

APRIL 1-3
Food & Farm Film Fest
Roxie Theater
www.foodandfarmfilms.com
A film festival focused on food also includes a few tasty bits from local chefs who create pairings for each day’s films. Festival proceeds support Cooking Matters, a San Francisco-based nonprofit offering nutrition and cooking classes in low-income communities.

APRIL 3 
Transamerica Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon San Francisco
www.runrocknroll.com
“The views are worth the climb” on a course which starts along the Great Highway at the northwest corner of Golden Gate Park and traverses some of San Francisco’s most beautiful neighborhoods and the Golden Gate Bridge. 

APRIL 5-10
Bouquets to Art
de Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, 415-750-3504
www.deyoung.famsf.org
Annual event celebrates the beauty of flowers combined with fine art. Extravagant floral arrangements from some of California's top designers and lectures by several world-renowned floral designers. 

APRIL 7
Opening Day – San Francisco Giants
AT&T Park, 415-972-2000 (info), tickets at www.tickets.com
www.sfgiants.com
The San Francisco Giants open their season at AT&T Park with a four-game series against the LA Dodgers.   

APRIL 7-10
Disposable Film Festival
Castro Theater, 429 Castro St.
www.disposablefilm.com
Opening night is at the Castro Theater, followed by events and workshops throughout the city for the balance of the weekend. Selected by Moviemaker Magazine as one of the world’s “coolest film festivals,” the DFF has been for more than a decade a pioneer in bringing the best online video across the globe from the personal screen to the silver screen.

APRIL 9-10, APRIL 16-17
Cherry Blossom Festival
Civic Center and Japantown, 415-563-2313
www.sfcherryblossom.org
This annual festival is one of California’s most prominent celebrations of Asian traditions. Two consecutive weekends of performances, crafts, food, martial arts and exhibitions.  A colorful parade will be held on Sunday, April 17 starting at the Civic Center and ending in Japantown.

APRIL 14-20
San Francisco Green Film 
Various venues, 415-767-1977
www.sfgreenfilmfest.org
Films, visiting filmmakers and guest speakers from around the globe cover environmental topics surrounding clean energy, green chemistry, food, housing, trash, water and art in the environment.

APRIL 18-24
Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic
Lake Merced Golf Course
www.swingingskirtslpgaclassic.com
A world-class golf tournament featuring the top players from the LPGA and showcasing some of the top international talent from Taiwan.

APRIL 21-MAY 5
San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF)
Various locations, 415-561-5000 
www.sffs.org
The 59th San Francisco International Film Festival is an extraordinary showcase of cinematic discovery and innovation. Last year's festival featured 263 screenings of 158 films from 51 countries.  

APRIL 22-MAY 1
Bay Area National Dance Week
415-920-9181
www.bayareandw.org
Bay Area National Dance Week is expecting its biggest festival to date, with an anticipated 600-plus free events including classes, performances, open rehearsals, lecture demonstrations, and the return of the popular Kickoff Event on Friday, April 22 in Union Square at noon.

APRIL 23
Earth Day SF Street Fest
24th Street between Mission and Bryant Streets
www.earthdaystreetfest.org  
Multicultural entertainment, keynote speakers, earth friendly exhibitors, eco educational workshops, organic food and drink, kids zone and much more.

APRIL 23-24
Spring Open Studios
Hunters Point Shipyard, 415-822-0922
www.shipyardartists.com
Hunters Point, one of America’s most art-centric neighborhoods, offers the opportunity for the general public to visit studios and purchase fine art from its makers.

APRIL 24 
Opening Day on the Bay
415-999-6422
www.picya.org
Kick off sailing season on San Francisco Bay with a festive boat parade and the blessing of the fleet.

APRIL 27-MAY 1
Art Market San Francisco
Festival Pavilion, Fort Mason
www.artmarketsf.com
The Bay Area’s only contemporary and modern art fair, Art Market San Francisco welcomes more than 70 established galleries, as well as innovative newcomers from across the country presenting a significant selection of contemporary and modern works of art.

APRIL 28-MAY 6
SFUSD Arts Festival
Asian Art Museum, San Francisco Civic Center, 415-581-3500
www.sfusdartsfestival.org
The Asian Art Museum teams up with the San Francisco Unified School District to present a celebration of student creativity and arts education showcasing visual and performing arts by 11,500 students from 250 schools.

APRIL 29-May 1
New Living Expo
San Mateo County Event Center, 415-382-8300
www.newlivingexpo.com
Each year more than 10,000 attendees flock to New Living Expo to learn, explore, and even be transformed by thought provoking speakers, stimulating workshops, and unique products and services that support wellness.

APRIL 29 – MAY 1
Progressive Insurance San Francisco Boat Show
McCovey Cove and Pier 48 adjacent to AT&T Park
www.sfboatshow.com 
Showcasing hundreds of boats for sale on land and in water, plus dozens of exhibits featuring the latest marine accessories and gear; visitors will also have an opportunity to take boating lessons, try stand up paddle boarding and attend sailing seminars.

APRIL 30-MAY 30
San Francisco Decorator Showcase
415-447-5830
www.decoratorshowcase.org
With more than 35 years of excellence in design and the decorative arts and 20,000 visitors annually, this event is nationally recognized as one of the premier showcase houses in the country.

The San Francisco Travel Association is the official destination marketing organization for the City and County of San Francisco. For information on reservations, activities and more, visit www.sanfrancisco.travel, read the Visitors Planning Guide or call 415-391-2000.  San Francisco Travel also operates Visitor Information Centers at Hallidie Plaza, 900 Market Street at the corner of Powell and Market streets and on the lower level of Macy’s Union Square.  For more information, visit www.sanfrancisco.travel.   

American Express® is the official Card partner of the San Francisco Travel Association.

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) offers non-stop flights to more than 39 international cities on 34 international carriers. The Bay Area's largest airport connects non-stop with 77 cities in the U.S. on 13 domestic airlines. SFO offers free upgraded Wi-Fi with no advertising. For up-to-the-minute departure and arrival information, airport maps and details on shopping, dining, cultural exhibitions, ground transportation and more, visit www.flysfo.com. Follow SFO on www.twitter.com/flysfo and www.facebook.com/flysfo

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