Best SF Bay Area
Events, Weekends & Festivals 2016
We limit our picks to only the best events in the SF Bay area in 2016, personally handpicked for local insiders. Many are unique world-class affairs. A few are just a lot of local fun. The events below are organized by month & regularly updated including local Pacific Coast time. Also see this month’s regularly scheduled weekly events and recently past events.
MAY 2016 — SF Bay Area Events & Weekends
NBA Playoffs 2016 – Round 2
#1 seeded Golden State Warriors won their first round versus Houston. They will compete in the second round against the #5 seed Portland Trail Blazers. First winner of four games wins this round as well.
- Round 1 Win/Loss record: Warriors 1 Trail Blazers 0 as of the end of Game 1
- Game 2: Trail Blazers at Warriors, Tuesday 5/3/16, 7:30 pm, TNT tv
- Game 3: Warriors at Trail Blazers, Saturday 5/7/16, 5:30 pm, ABC tv
- Game 4: Warriors at Trail Blazers, Monday 5/9/16, 7:30 pm, TNT tv
- Game 5, 6 and 7 will be played if needed on 5/11/16, 5/13/16 and 5/16/16 at times to be determined.
- Cinco De Mayo, Thursday 5/5/16
- Mothers Day, Sunday 5/8/16
- Harvey Milk Day, Sunday 5/22/16
- Memorial Day, Monday 5/30/16
- More Holidays
Harvard Glee Club Alumni Chorus, Calvary Presbyterian, 2515 Fillmore St, SF
Friday 5/6/16, 7:30 pm, Free
An evening of secular & sacred men’s choral music provided jointly by the Harvard Glee Club and the Kyoto University Men’s Glee Club. See more details.
The Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky. Free on TV (NBC sports)
Saturday 5/7/16, 3:34 pm race start
May 2-7 is the biggest week of the year for horse racing culminating in what is known as the “fastest two minutes in sports.” The Kentucky Derby is the country’s premier race for 3-year old thoroughbreds (1-1/4 miles). See Derby week’s details.
Cinco De Mayo Festival, Valencia St. between 21st & 24th Streets, Mission District, SF
Saturday 5/7/16, 10 am-6 pm, Free
The actual Cinco De Mayo holiday this year is Thursday, 5/5/16. It celebrates the contributions made by Latinos to the United States and commemorates the anniversary of a victory by Mexican forces over French forces in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. See the 5/7/16 festival details.
Bay to Breakers Race, San Francisco Bay to Pacific Ocean Breakers
THE EXPO Friday-Saturday 5/13/16-5/14/15, Pier 35, 1454 The Embarcadero
THE RACE Sunday 5/15/16, Start time 8 am at Main & Howard St. to Ocean Beach Parking Lot
THE FINISH LINE FESTIVAL Sunday 5/15/16, Ocean Beach Parking Lot
The Bay to Breakers 12k run and walk is probably the biggest foot race in the world (over 50,000 runners in 2015) and includes everyone from world-class runners to a wide range of costumed runners including corporate centipedes and fat old nude walkers. It is also the oldest consecutively run annual footrace in the world, dating back to 1912.If you don’t want to run in it (like we and probably half of the SF Bay Area population has already done) then just go to Golden Gate Park to watch the finish and join the festivities held afterwards. See details. See pictures.
Polynesian Festival, Leo Ryan Park Amphitheater, 650 Shell Blvd/Hillsdale., Foster City, CA
Saturday 5/14/16, 10 am – 5 pm, Free admission
Unique day of activities celebrating the Polynesian culture. There will be award-winning professional Polynesian dance performances, food booths, arts and crafts booths and even free outrigger canoe rides. See more.
San Francisco Carnaval, Mission District, San Francisco
Festival, Saturday-Sunday, 5/28/16 – 5/29/16, Free. Harrison St. between 16th & 24th Streets.
Parade, Sunday 5/29/16, 9:30 am, Free. The parade moves west on 24th St. then north on Mission St.
A big, crowded Latin American/Caribbean Street festival and parade in the Mission District. The easiest way to access it is probably via the 24th/Mission BART station which is located near the center of the parade.
Indianapolis 500, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indiana
Sunday, 5/29/16, 9:15 am-3:00 pm, Free on TV
One of the most famous motor car racing events in the world. It’s a 500 mile race where top lap speeds can get over 236 mph (this is the record made in 1996, in 2014 the top speed for a full lap was over 225 mph). See more details.
Memorial Day Monday 5/30/16
For good things to do just look around our website. The Bay area is blessed with hundreds of hidden gems open every day.
Gray Whale Migration Season, at numerous locations along the Pacific coast
12/20/15 – 5/31/16, Paid boat tours or Free from shore
Watch some 20,000 gray whales migrating from the Arctic to Baja, Mexico. Tour boats leave San Francisco, Half Moon Bay, Moss Landing and Monterey during this season. Or, watch them from on shore. See more details.
- Off The Grid at Fort Mason Center – Friday Nights through October, This is the largest food truck event in the U.S. with over 30 independent food vendors, music and considerable action. See details.
- Picnic at the Presidio, Main Parade Ground – Sundays, 11 am-4 pm. Off the Grid’s food vendors gather in this great venue. April 3, 2016 – October. See details.
- Golden Gate Park Band – Sundays, 1 pm-2:45 pm. Located at the Music Concourse in Golden Gate Park. See more details.
- Swing Dancing in the Park – Sundays, 11 am-2 pm. Free dancing & beginners lesson in Golden Gate Park. (year round)
- Bicycle Sundays – Sundays. Main roads are closed to cars on Sundays at both Golden Gate Park and Canada Road (off Hwys 280 & 92, Belmont) for bicyclists & skaters of all levels to enjoy (open year round subject to weather).
Month of May – Other
- Pro Sports: See Golden State Warriors, San Francisco Giants and San Jose Sharks.
- Golden State Warriors: The Warriors are in the playoffs.
- College Sports: In the Bay Area you can see a variety of interesting collegiate sports up close and at low cost. E.g., the sunken diamond at Stanford is one of the best places to watch college baseball in the country. Check Stanford’s schedules for baseball or all sports. Also see the Cal Berkeley, San Jose State and San Mateo Jr. College event schedules.
- FREE Monthly Museum Days:
Typically the first Tue/Wed/Thu, every month at many Bay Area locations
Many San Francisco Bay Area museums have free admission days once a month. See dates & links. Often these events are quite crowded but if you arrive early enough this is a way to see the best museums for free.
JUNE 2016 — SF Bay Area Events & Weekends
cityFEST, Leo Ryan Park, 650 Shell Blvd/Hillsdale, Foster City CA
Friday, 6/3/16, 5 pm – 11 pm; Sat, 6/4/16, 10 am – 11 pm; Sun, 6/5/16, 10 am – 7 pm.
FREE admission, $10 parking.
Foster City’s biggest event formerly known as the Arts & Wine Festival. A local family-oriented event which includes a Carnival, Festival, and Live Entertainment. Over 175 booths, 20 different carnival rides and 40,000 attendees expected. See more.
Jazz on the Hill, College of San Mateo, San Mateo, CA
Saturday 6/4/16 11 am- 6 pm, FREE admission.
This day-long community event near Foster City is sponsored by the jazz station KCSM 91.1 FM and San Mateo Jr College. It’s free, the setting is beautiful, and there will be plenty of good food by local vendors. Last year over 5000 attended. See more details.
Sunday Streets, Sundays, Free at different locations
These Sunday events close neighborhood streets to cars so people can enjoy a large, temporary, public space where they can freely bike, walk, run, dance, skate, yoga & meet neighbors. In our experience they do not get busy until later in the afternoon so there is no need to get there right on time.
- Sunday Streets Sunset & Great Highway (6/12/16, 11 am-4 pm) Golden Gate Park & the Great Highway running south along the beach.
- Every Sunday at Golden Gate Park and Canada Road (off Hwys 280 & 92, Belmont) – Main roads are closed to cars every Sunday year round subject to weather for bicyclists & skaters of all levels to enjoy.
- For more details see Sunday Streets.
As a final tip, we have noticed that new events are often more unique and pleasant before most of the “world” learns about them. Then they sometimes become more crowded, commercial, and less free wheeling. Also, go early in the day. So don’t wait if you see something you may like. If you have never lived in San Francisco you may not realize that it is definitely a public party town without peer! The inhabitants really do spend a lot of effort throwing outstanding, unique, and fun events. Enjoy these special things to do … only in San Francisco!