City at Large

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Reasons to stay in San Francisco in 2020
To help celebrate Chinese New Year, head to Chinatown for the Chinese Community Street Fair in February. Photo: Dawn Endico/Creative Commons

Having just gone through a busy holiday season, are you wondering what you’ll do in 2020 after you’ve caught your breath? In a city as busy and full of life as San Francisco, there are a lot of ways to enjoy living here. Let’s take a look at just some of the things you might want to note on your calendar for 2020.


San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park sprawls over 1,017 acres of land on the city’s west side, covering about 20 percent more space than Manhattan’s Central Park. It’s a major attraction for locals and visitors. This year, San Francisco will kick off a yearlong celebration of Golden Gate Park’s 150th birthday.

A highlight of the celebrations will be on Saturday, April 4 (which is apparently the park’s actual birthday, as such things are calculated), when a Community Day will be observed and we’ll get the first use of a new 150-foot observation wheel. This ferris wheel will be located on the park’s Music Concourse (near the de Young, the California Academy of Sciences, and the Japanese Tea Garden). The wheel’s 36 enclosed, climate-controlled cars seat six people apiece and will offer views of the city from downtown to the Pacific shore. A 12-minute ride will cost $18; $12 for seniors and children 12 and under. But if you can be there on April 4 for Community Day, the observation wheel rides will be free.

And that’s only one of the highlights of the birthday year. Find out about others at

Each year, Golden Gate Park attracts 24 million visitors. You can expect that number to be considerably higher in this anniversary year.

A rendering shows the 150-foot observation wheel that will open in April to mark Golden Gate Park’s 150th anniversary. PHOTO: Skystar

A rendering shows the 150-foot observation wheel that will open in April to mark Golden Gate Park’s 150th anniversary. PHOTO: Skystar


There’s another San Francisco legend with an anniversary this year. The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival is having its 20th anniversary gathering on Oct. 2–4. The free public music festival, created and subsidized by the late venture capitalist Warren Hellman, draws hundreds of thousands of people. They appreciate the live music and the rare opportunity to attend a music festival that isn’t sponsored by 101 corporations.


The city’s many street fairs and festivals are a great way to show off your own neighborhood or get to know another area of town. There are many festivals each year in the city, but some of the best are within easy walking/commuting distance of the Marina.

Chinatown is one of the neighborhood gems of San Francisco, and if you don’t get there often for food or shopping, you might want to go there Feb. 8–9 for the Chinatown Community Street Fair. Held around Chinese New Year, it’s a great time to take in Chinese folk dancing, opera, drumming, dragons, giant puppets, and much more. The same weekend will feature the Chinese New Year Parade.

Early June will see the 2020 Union Street Fair. This family-oriented festival features live music and other entertainment, delicious food, children’s activities, arts and crafts, and more. For many of us, this fair takes place in or near our front yards; but it is also a great time to show off Union Street to visitors from across the city and around the Bay Area.

Later in the month — June 20–21, to be exact — North Beach gets to strut its stuff with the North Beach Festival, the original and first street festival in the country. Along with gourmet food, enjoy two stages of live entertainment, the Blessing of the Animals, poetry readings, arts and crafts, children’s chalk area, and of course more.

On July 4–5, join more than 100,000 other visitors for the Fillmore Jazz Festival. Located — you guessed it — on Fillmore Street, it features 12 blocks of live music on multiple stages, plus of course gourmet food and drink and fine arts and crafts.

In early August, you can head to Japantown for the 46th Nihonmachi Street Fair. This volunteer-run event has a special commitment to mentor Asian-Pacific American youths, and you’ll find many young people participating in the fair’s public events. And, as the fair notes, San Francisco is a place “where dogs outnumber children,” so you can also take in its Doggie World Parade and Pageant.


It would seem like a sign of the times that the San Francisco Comic Con moved to . . . Oakland. But there are some San Francisco originals that are still here, showcasing the creativity and spirit of our local artists.

San Francisco Zine Fest started in 2001, and it is an annual expo (also with panel discussions and workshops) for independent writers, artists, and other creators. If you don’t like the over-hyped magazines and comics and books you find at your usual stores and online shops, then check out the Zine Fest for table after table of independently produced publications. It is one of my favorite places to be recharged with enthusiasm about the creativity of people of all ages and backgrounds. Some of them will always prefer to be working in the indie world; some of them will one day have their work featured in major publications and on the big screen. Either way, this is your chance to put some cash directly into their pockets and meet them face-to-face. Find out more about this Labor Day weekend event at


For more family fun, don’t forget the Union Street Easter Parade and Spring Celebration, which takes place of course at Easter time in April. It’s a fun and eclectic mix of children’s activities, pony rides, Easter bonnet competition, food and more, including a relaxed parade down Union Street.

Seafood lovers know that our local Dungeness crab season will be a mouth-watering time to take in (literally) this popular crustacean. It runs from late 2019 through mid-summer. This past fall, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife delayed the start of crab fishing due to “a significant risk of marine life entanglement,” in particular the presence of whales in the area. So just note that actual start/stop dates of the season are not written in stone.

One thing you can forget about happening this year is the long-anticipated opening of the Central Subway. Scheduled to take place this year, in September 2019 the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency announced that it will happen in mid-2021 instead. But that just gives us one more thing to look forward to next year.

This was just a small selection of the many fairs, celebrations, and additional events that will be taking place in 2020. You can find out more about these and other events that make San Francisco a special place to be by checking out our calendar pages (and at or by visiting any of these organizations online. Tell ’em the Marina Times sent you.

Send feedback to [email protected]. John Zipperer has perfect 2020 vision. Email: [email protected]

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