Every year, the Northern California Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Foundation puts on a weekend-long festival to celebrate the life and work of MLK. It features a parade, film festival, arts festival, health & wellness festival, and more.
The majority of the events will be on the day of the holiday on Monday, January 16, but you will also find a handful of events on the days prior.
Note: The following details are from the 2016 event. Please check back for 2017 updates!
These are the events planned for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday. The celebration will last from about 8am to 7pm on Monday.
All events, unless noted, will be at the Yerba Buena Gardens and the Yerba Buena Center for Performing Arts.
The 2016 Labor and Community Breakfast will be held on January 18 from 8am to 10am at the Holiday Inn Golden Gateway. In addition to breakfast, you get the chance to hear from San Francisco's labor unions, as well as political, civic, and community leaders.
This year's Martin Luther King, Jr. Festival also includes the Liberation Film Festival from 10am to 6pm. It features both short-format cinema and human interest documentaries aimed at reaching new and diverse audiences.
This is the fifth year for this film festival. The film screenings are free and open to the public. They will take place at the Yerba Buena Center Theater and Screening Room, the Freedom Theater at the Museum of the African Diaspora, and the Creativity Theater.
The largest event this weekend is the parade/march. It will be on Monday, January 18 at 11am.
This 1.5-mile march starts south of the Lefty O'Doul Bridge near AT&T Park. It then stops in the Willie Mays Plaza to commemorate the Edmunds Pettus Bridge crossing of the famous Selma-to-Montgomery, Alabama march, a symbol of violence and victory during the civil rights era.
After stopping for a few minutes, the march will continue north to the Yerba Buena Gardens.
The one-day Health and Wellness Festival offers free screenings, activities, and other free services by local providers, including the American Red Cross, the San Francisco chapter of The Links, Incorporated, SFEnvironment, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation BBE program, and more.
Here you'll learn more about ways to improve your health, from exercise to nutrition.
Beginning January 16, there will be a series of free lectures meant to spark contemporary contemplation of Dr. King, his message, and his symbology.
In addition, the MLK Interfaith Commemoration invites people from all walks of life to come together in reflection.
Celebrating African American creativity in the comic arts, the Black Comix Arts Festival includes a grand expo, kids activities, film screenings, panels and conversations, cosplay events, and more.
This part of the festival has several events running from January 17 to 18. It begins on Sunday with screenings at the Main San Francisco Library in the Civic Center at 1pm, and continues on Monday at the Yerba Buena Center at 10:30am.
The Music Festival is an afternoon of music and poetry on the lawn in the Yerba Buena Gardens.
Teach your children ages 5 - 12 more about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement at this year's Children's Discover Hunt. This fun and educational quest incorporates age-appropriate activities and a free prize at the end.
Three museums will offer an additional free admission day on Monday, January 18. The three museums are:
To attend this festival, I recommend staying in either San Francisco's Union Square or Downtown Districts. Both are close to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Festival and Parade activities. The options in these areas vary from two-star budget-friendly hotels to luxury five-star hotels. Click the links below for my recommendations in both districts.
You can also find some great deals on TripAdvisor. They offer discounts such as 10% off your room rate, free parking, and free wifi. You will find these discounts at hotels all over the city. Click here to check out the special offers this weekend in San Francisco.
SF Sketchfest: One of the largest comedy festivals in the area offers several ahows this weekend, too. SF Sketchfest features top comedians from around the US and includes everything from skits to solo stand-up performances. Click here for this year's schedule.
25th Anniversary of the Sea Lions Arrival at Pier 39: One of the most popular attractions in San Francisco these days is the sea lions on Pier 39. These loud and lovable animals live on several platforms next to the pier. Stop by this weekend to celebration their arrival more than 25 years ago. Click here for details.
Savings Tip: You can also find additional events on Goldstar.com. They offer a large selection of tickets at up to 50% off. I use them all the time for walking tours, San Francisco bay cruises, and other popular annual events. Click here to find a list of events for this weekend.
SF Museum Exhibits: Every month, San Francisco museums house some of the best traveling exhibits in the world. Some of the top exhibits this month include: "Elephants Without Number" at the Asian Art Museum and "Garden Railway" at the Conservatory of Flowers. Click here for the full January calendar.