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Fashion, fun and philanthropy: The fall fundraising season begins

Superstar pianist Yuja Wang performs at the San Francisco Symphony’s Opening Night Gala. photo: san francisco symphony

Summer’s over. You’re back from that final vacation, you’ve finished that last novel, and your tan is finally fading. It’s back to work, back to school, back to reality. But here in San Francisco, with the autumn season comes yet another great reason to socialize and celebrate: the fall fundraising galas.

From now through the holidays, the city is awash in spectacular soirees designed to raise money for some truly important organizations. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to purchase a ticket to one of the most charitable — and glamorous — seats in town, consider it. Whether you have a favorite cause or strongly believe in supporting the arts, there’s no more festive way to welcome fall while also helping folks who really need it. So put on that suit or dress, put on those dancing shoes, and get ready for some philanthropic fun.

San Francisco Symphony Opening Night Gala (Sept. 3): Kick off the season with the San Francisco Symphony’s annual black-tie gala, benefitting the symphony’s award-winning education and community programs that serve more than 75,000 students in the Bay Area. This year, the celebration honors Michael Tilson Thomas’s 20th anniversary as music director. The evening begins at 8 p.m. and includes a pre-party, a concert featuring singer-songwriter Bonnie Raitt, and superstar pianist Yuja Wang performing alongside the symphony, and an after-party with entertainment, dancing, cocktails, and treats from favorite San Francisco restaurants. A variety of ticket packages are available at

San Francisco Opera’s Opening Night Gala (Sept. 5): Celebrate the start of the opera’s 92nd season at Bravo! Club’s Annual Opening Night Gala. This elegant black-tie affair begins at 6:30 p.m. with a formal pre-performance reception on the outdoor balcony of the War Memorial Opera House, followed by the opening-night performance of Bellini’s masterpiece Norma. After the opera, an after-party at Jardinière restaurant includes hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, music, and dancing (415-865-3330,

Macy’s Passport Presents Glamorama 2014: Fashion Rocks (Sept. 12): Glamorama is a high-end fashion show and musical production benefitting the AIDS Emergency Fund, Glide Foundation and Project Open Hand. This year’s event celebrates 32 years of fashion and compassion for HIV/AIDS. The event kicks off on the red carpet at the SHN Golden Gate Theatre at 7 p.m. The evening also includes a fashion show starring award-winning designers such as Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Weekend Max Mara, and Diesel, performances by pop star and headliner Jason Derulo and other musical acts, and a pre-party at the Warfield Theatre (888-346-1799,

Bay Area Arthritis Auxiliary Fashion Show (Oct. 1): Carmen Marc Valvo is bringing his 25th anniversary fashion show from the runways of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York to San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel for the Bay Area Arthritis Auxiliary. The event begins at 10:30 a.m. with a champagne reception and continues with a luncheon, live auction and, of course, a runway show featuring cocktail dresses, couture gowns, and more of the designer’s stunning fall 2014 silhouettes (415-356-5484,

San Francisco Performances 35th Season Gala (Oct. 17): San Francisco Performances celebrates the start of its fall season with its annual gala featuring cocktails, dinner, a Fund-A-Need drive, and a jazz concert starring the Kenny Barron and Stefon Harris Duo. The party takes place at the Julia Morgan Ballroom at the Merchant’s Exchange Building from 6–10 p.m. All proceeds from the event benefit San Francisco Performances’ award-winning arts education programs (415-677-0326,

Ronald McDonald House Home Away From Home Gala (Oct. 17): This year marks the silver anniversary of the annual gala benefiting Ronald McDonald House of San Francisco. This national organization supports critically ill children and their families by providing them with temporary housing during the child’s medical treatments. The black-tie-optional 20th annual event takes place at the Four Seasons Hotel starting at 6:30 p.m. The evening includes a reception and silent auction, dinner, live auction, and entertainment until midnight (415- 673-0891,

This Old Bag: The Power of the Purse (Oct. 17): Benefitting the Breast Cancer Emergency Fund, the 10th Annual This Old Bag Gala celebrates a decade of handbags and philanthropy. Designers, retailers, fashionistas, and celebrities gather at the Bently Reserve at 6:30 p.m. for a great cause: to help low-income women maintain life-extending medical care and living expenses while they’re fighting cancer. At the silent and live auction, guests will have the chance to bid on beautiful bags, vacation packages, and more (415-558-6999,

San Francisco Fall Antique Show Preview Gala (Oct. 22): Recognized as the oldest and most prestigious continuously operating international art and antiques show on the West Coast, the San Francisco Fall Antique Show holds its annual Preview Gala to benefit Enterprise for High School Students. This year’s show will be open to the public from Oct. 23–26 at Fort Mason’s Festival Pavilion. The preview gala will be held from 7–10 p.m. on Oct. 22 (415- 989-9019,

Root Division’s 13th Annual Art Auction Fundraiser (Oct. 23): Root Division’s mission is to improve appreciation and access to the visual arts by providing subsidized studio space to working artists in exchange for their service in “creating shared learning opportunities for the community.” The organization hosts its 13th Annual Art Auction Fundraiser to support its after-school art classes for Bay Area youth. The evening begins at 6 p.m. with a VIP cocktail hour, and includes both silent and live auctions featuring original artwork from more than 100 established and emerging artists (415-863-7668,

Lamplighters Annual Champagne Gala & Auction (Nov. 2): The fall fundraiser benefitting Lamplighters Music Theatre, held at the Palace of Fine Arts Theater, features an original satire set to the music of Sir Arthur Sullivan (415-227-4797,

San Francisco Ballet Encore! Opening Night Gala (Jan. 22, 2015): Held at San Francisco City Hall and the historic War Memorial Opera House, this black-tie event is one worth waiting for. The evening starts with a cocktail reception and dinner at City Hall, ramps up with a Prosecco Promenade in the Opera House lobby and an opening-night ballet performance, and culminates with an after-party at City Hall (415-865-2000,

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