It's a singular San Francisco summer tradition: the Stern Grove concert series. Amazing artists, beautiful scenery, and best of all, it's free!

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June 11, 2021

How to Experience Stern Grove's 2021 Summer Concert Series

Stern Grove is a San Francisco summer tradition. For more than 80 summers, visitors and locals alike have seen legendary performances in one of the most beautiful spots in the city for free. Yes, you read that right—free!

The Stern Grove Festival has released their lineup for the upcoming season of Sunday concerts, happening June 20 to Aug. 29, 2021. Here’s everything you need to know.

The History of Stern Grove

Today, Stern Grove, a natural amphitheater surrounded by giant eucalyptus, redwood, and fir trees, is one of Northern California’s favorite concert sites. But it wasn't always like this. Back in the 1840s, it was just a wild stretch of sand dunes and marshes. George Greene and his family are the first known San Franciscans to tame this patch of land.

Decades later, in 1931, the land was purchased by Rosalie M. Stern, who gifted it to the city in memory of her husband, Sigmund. Mrs. Stern declared that the site must be preserved as a park in which the public could enjoy free music, dance, and theater performances. Nearly 90 years later, her promise has been upheld!

All proceeds of Stern Grove Festival concerts benefit the continuation of this special tradition.

How to Visit Safely

The Stern Grove Festival will gladly welcome guests back this summer, but with some noticeable changes.

Admission to each concert will continue to remain free to the public, but a new online ticket reservation system will be required to comply with capacity limitations. At 2:00 p.m. 12 days prior to each event, an online portal will be opened through to offer free passes on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Attendance for each concert will be adjusted over time in order to comply with local, state, and federal regulations. Limited seating should be expected for the first few concert events.

Additional changes to the visitor experience include new temporary fencing and other key infrastructure to help maintain proper social distancing.

Guests are welcome to bring their own food and beverages to enjoy.

Not ready to join the crowds just yet? Not to worry; all the concerts will be livestreamed

For more details, click here.

Concert Dates & Performers

All concerts for the 2021 season will begin at 2 p.m. Performers are subject to change without notice.

June 20

The 2021 concert season begins with a headline performance from 2021 Grammy Award winner and R&B singer/songwriter Ledisi. Also performing this day will be The Seshen, La Doña, and LadyRyan.

June 27

Perfume Genius, the critically-acclaimed indie-rock project from the mind of the accomplished singer/songwriter and creative artist Mike Hadreas, will perform this week. Also performing this day will be Madame Gandhi, Honey Mahogany, and LadyRyan.

July 4

Stern Grove will hold a special Independence Day holiday performance from the San Francisco Symphony, led by conductor Edwin Outwater. This is annual tradition stretching back more than 80 years.

July 11

Thievery Corporation, the DC-born electronica group, celebrates 25 years since the release of their debut album with their Stern Grove appearance this day. Also performing will be Dessa and DJ Shorkut.

July 18

St. Paul & The Broken Bones, an eight-piece Birmingham, Alabama-based rock and soul band that is best known for its gospel-tinged and soulful southern sound, take the stage on this day. Also scheduled to perform are The Dip and DJ Omar.

July 25

Legendary punk rockers and musical trailblazers X will perform at Stern Grove this day. Also scheduled to perform are The Avengers and DJ Omar. 

August 1

Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Joan Jett & the Blackhearts will perform hits from the band’s nearly 50-year career, including “I Love Rock N Roll,” "I Hate Myself For Loving You," and "Crimson and Clover.”

August 8

R&B singer/songwriter Thundercat will play Stern Grove after having won "Best Progressive R&B Album" at the 2021 Grammy Awards. Also scheduled to perform this day are Cassowary and DJ Shortkut.

August 15

Indie pop and neo-soul band Fitz & The Tantrums will perform this day, as will Devon Gilfillian and DJ Omar.

August 29 - The Big Picnic

The 2021 season concludes with the Festival’s annual fundraiser, The Big Picnic, featuring a very special performance from two legendary Bay Area artists: the iconic soul/funk/R&B outfit Tower of Power and multi-platinum selling emcee Too $hort. 

Additional Stern Grove Tips

Want to make the most of your Stern Grove experience? Here are a few insider tips:

  • While the main entrance at the corner of 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard is easy to find, there are additional entrances along Wawona Street to the north. These less crowded entrances may allow you to get in quicker and find a seat.
  • You'll want to be on your best early bird game, since seating at Stern Grove is general admission. All entrances open at noon on concert days.
  • Did you know Stern Grove has a bike valet? They do! Forget the hassle of parking your car and take your bike there instead. Plus, when the concert is over, you can go for a scenic ride along the nearby Great Highway.
  • If you'd rather not sit on a blanket or low-profile lawn chair, there are picnic tables that can be reserved. Picnic table seating is available with a donation of $1,500 or more, available for all concerts except The Big Picnic on August 29.

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