The best new San Francisco festivals you’ve never heard of

Just another lazy Sunday in San Francisco (photo: Bhautik Joshi / flickr)

Just being lucky enough to live in San Francisco makes every day seem like One Big Lovefest. Even the dense fog of winter — spring, summer, and fall — can’t put a damper on our glee. But the most excellent time to be in the city is during the true San Francisco festival season.

Beginning in April, we San Franciscans stumble out of our overpriced apartments, condos and houses like bears waking from hibernation, flow into the city streets, and stuff our faces with 72 percent dark chocolate-covered kale bars, kombucha “salami,” and bacon-on-a-stick. The Cherry Blossom Festival in Japantown provides the kickoff to the season, quickly followed by the Bay to Breakers, the Gay Pride festival, the Fillmore Jazz, Union Street and the North Beach festivals, just to name a few fan favorites.

In fact, this being San Francisco, where there’s something for everybody, there are also several micro-niche festivals that always seem to fly under the radar. So here are a few that you might want to put on the calendar for this summer and fall:

Fleece Week Festival: Don’t mistake this one for October’s Fleet Week, where brave Navy and Marine Corp jet pilots risk their lives just to see us smile. This is Fleece Week, the one week when wearing those insanely popular 2-for-$15 “San Francisco” fleeces that are sold at Fisherman’s Wharf and Chinatown is deemed illegal. Come watch the tourists get fleeced — and enjoy the lamb soulvaki while you’re there!

Google BusPub Crawl Festival: In an attempt to appease angry San Franciscans for the additional bus traffic they have created in the city, Google offers this drunkfest to prove that techies are real people, too. Hop aboard their sleek luxury buses for a pub crawl that offers Wi-Fi, so your relatives in Poughkeepsie can watch you get hammered in real time; receive a complimentary 72-ounce Google Glass of beer (after pounding a few of these, you’ll have new meaning to the term “beer goggles”); and enjoy the virtual barf bags for when you actually do get sick.

Food Truck-Hook-Up Truck Festival: You’ve probably heard about San Francisco’s new mobile “hotel” for very short-term rentals, aptly called the Hook-Up Truck. This festival combines San Franciscans’ two favorite things, food trucks and sex. Just think: You won’t have to wait for the Chinese food to arrive after you’ve worked up an appetite. Just be sure to leave the kids at home.

In Search of the Illusive Parking Space Festival: This is quite the daredevil event as participants rev up their engines starting on a Saturday at around 6 p.m. and circle the Marina to look for a parking spot. Whoever finds a space first wins a full-time job with FedEx. So far, no one has ever won the prize, but in this economy, there should be a lot of motor-vation.

Specialty Cocktails Under $10 Festival: This mixology fest should be a blast for people who like drinks like a Black Russian Hill, Sex On Ocean Beach and KamiKezar shots, but only beer and wine are served here as everyone knows there is no such thing as a fancy cocktail under $10 in San Francisco.

Mad Men In Heels Festival: This is not what you’re thinking. It’s actually a women’s appreciation day where the men in suits of our fair city are required to wear at least three-inch heels to navigate the hills of San Francisco, run for buses, and sidestep cable car tracks. Quick tip for the first-time festivalgoer: Leave your Christian Louboutins at home.

My Spouse Didn’t Want To Travel This Summer, So All I Got Was This Lousy Festival Festival: This is just perfect for those of you who are stuck in the city this summer, but still want to purchase a funny t-shirt. Finally, a reason to toss that I’m With Stupid t-shirt you got last summer.

So who cares about vacationing in Cuba, Iceland, or Botswana this summer when you can hop into a pink-mustachioed car with your loved ones and hit all of those off-the-grid festivals you never knew existed. And don’t miss the new Thank You, Global Warming! Festival coming next year. Everyone says it’ll be a hot one.

Send to a Friend Print

Upcoming Events

more »

SFMOMA | Yayoi Kusama: Infinite Love

Feb-Sep 1-7
Info »

Download the Current Issue: May 2024

Follow Us