Street festival season in the city

The North Beach Festival is considered the country’s oldest street fair. (photo: lexie lee)

Summer in San Francisco brings not only chilly weather but also our favorite neighborhood street festivals. You’ll find arts, crafts, food, music, and more as well as some neighborhood personality.

The 39th annual Union Street Festival kicks off the street festival season on Saturday and Sunday, June 6–7, from Gough to Steiner Streets. Following the format that debuted last year, there will be several “worlds,” one to a block, with a unique theme: Fashion, Tech, Local, Craft, Culinary, and Health and Fitness.

We can also look to the return of the wine and craft beer tasting pavilions — and at a reduced price: $15 advance and $20 on site for a ticket of 10 tastings in a compostable sampling cup (outside alcohol is not allowed).

The ever-popular fashion show at Gough Street promises to be kicked up a notch this year. Clothing and jewelry from Union Street’s finest and trendiest boutiques will be featured in two shows each day, with — wait for it — a pet fashion show between each set.

Traditional festival offerings include over 100 boutique artists from across the country offering their specialty arts, crafts, and products, and of course, dozens of food vendors. Live music will be featured on several stages; visit for the schedule.

Up the following weekend, June 13–14, is the North Beach Festival, now in its 61st year and considered the country’s original street fair. Over 150 booths will feature fine arts, crafts, gifts, food, and drink, spanning several streets (Columbus Avenue between Broad-way and Green; Vallejo and Green Streets between Grant and Columbus; and Grant Avenue between Columbus and Filbert). Multiple stages will feature live music (visit for entertainment line-up), and you can enjoy beer and wine in the beverage gardens.

Fair favorites are the traditional Italian street painting with chalk, where you can also buy space for your kids to create their own masterpieces on Vallejo Street (between Grant and Columbus) and the ever-popular traditional animal blessing at the Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi (610 Vallejo Street) each day from 2–3 p.m.

The first weekend in July, July 4–5, ushers in the 31st annual Fillmore Jazz Festival, the West Coast’s largest free jazz festival, attracting more than 100,000 visitors to the neighborhood rich in jazz history. The 12-block festival from Jackson to Eddy features booths of fine arts and crafts from paintings to photography to pottery as well as gourmet food and beverages. Several live jazz performances from multiple stages are scheduled, including returning artist in residence Kim Nalley, performing a different program each day. For the complete lineup of musicians, visit

Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. for all festivals and admission is free, but leave your smokes at home because each venue is billed as a nonsmoking event.

Many of the local merchants will be open during the festivals, so make sure to visit them as well; after all, they make these vibrant neighborhoods what they are.

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