Everything You Need to Know About the Castro Street Fair | San Francisco Travel

Everything You Need to Know About the Castro Street Fair

Your guide to one of San Francisco's biggest LGBTQ community events outside of Pride.

A city of different neighborhoods tucked among the rolling hills, San Francisco’s cultural diversity is built right into our geography. One of the city’s best examples of this is the Castro District, a bustling neighborhood famous for being the center of the known LGBTQ universe.

Many of San Francisco’s unique neighborhoods host their own annual fairs, showcasing local businesses and performances, and the Castro is no exception. In fact, the Castro Street Fair is one of the largest and is open to everyone, so put on your most colorful clothes and join in.

An Important Legacy

Started by legendary activist Harvey Milk in 1974 in reaction to the discriminatory policies of local merchants, the first Castro Street Fair drew over 5,000 attendees. In fact, the Castro Street Fair was one of the main reasons that the Castro transformed into the center of the LGBTQ community not just for San Francisco but for the entire country. As both a protest and a celebration, the Castro Street Fair became a flashpoint of the civil rights struggle, as well as a place for connecting with the community. 

Today, the Castro Street Fair is one of San Francisco’s most important festivals and contends with the annual Pride Festival and Parade as the top LGBTQ+ event in the city. It is a full-on street party that lasts all day, with multiple live music stages at key intersections and open-air dance parties on every block.

When and Where to Join In

The Castro Street Fair happens every fall and it lasts all day and well into the night. Bring your sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses, and prepare to have the time of your life.

The Castro Street Fair takes over the entire commercial heart of the Castro and is centered on Castro Street between Market and 19th streets. Check-in at the information booth at the corner of Market and Castro Streets for a map and local tips before heading to the Main Stage at 19th Street.

The Castro Street Fair also extends for four blocks along 18th Street. Don’t forget to duck into the Dance Alley at 18th and Collingwood streets to get your groove on. Many of the merchants and bars along Market St. will also be celebrating the Castro Street Fair, so be sure to check them out, too.

How to Get There

From downtown San Francisco, the Castro is easy to reach on public transit. Just take the westbound K or M Muni Metro trains and exit at the Castro St. Station. You'll be in the heart of the action. Alternatively, for a fun and scenic ride, take the F Market streetcar up Market Street to its terminus at Castro and Market Streets.

Sights and Sounds

The Castro Street Fair is also a huge showcase of the creative talent in the Castro District and the larger LGBTQ+ community of the Bay Area. There will be hundreds of different artisan stalls where you can purchase a wide range of one-of-a-kind and uniquely San Francisco items that will be on display.

Local DJs and bands will front the Main Stage and other smaller stages throughout the fair. Past performers have included The Whoa Nellies! and the San Francisco Lesbian Gay Freedom Band. 

Do Good in the Neighborhood

The Castro Street Fair is a charitable organization powered by over 20 local non-profit beneficiaries that provide essential services to the Castro and surrounding communities. The funds gained from the fair—a $10 donation is suggested—also go to maintaining the huge rainbow-colored flag that reigns supreme over Harvey Milk Plaza and serves as a source of pride for the LGBTQ community worldwide.

Check out the Castro Street Fair official website for more info.

Aaron Danzig
Aaron Danzig

Aaron is the Manager of Digital & Social Media Marketing at San Francisco Travel. He has lived in San Francisco for over 9 years and has worked in Travel & Tourism for over 7 of those. He is usually exploring the Bay Area hunting for that new and unique experience and good food too!