Stern Grove Festival
2016 Calendar & Tips to Attend This Popular San Francisco Event
This year the Stern Grove Festival in San Francisco celebrates its 79th anniversary. The 2016 season lasts from June 19 to August 21.
Every Sunday at 2pm, you will find a free concert in the park. The shows usually last two to three hours and are wildly popular.
The Big Picnic and opening performance on June 19th this year stars Janelle Monae and features Midtown Social.
Note: The rest of the 2016 festival line-up will be announced May 1. Please stay tuned! Below is the list of artists who performed in 2015.
- June 14: The Big Picnic - Opening Day Benefit and Concert featuring The Doobie Brothers and The California Honeydrops
- June 21: Pacific Mambo Orchestra with Sheila E and Marlow Rosado Salsamania
- June 28: Randy Newman, Hot Club of San Francisco
- July 5: San Francisco Symphony, Edwin Outwater, Conductor
- July 12: Amy Hanaiali'i and the Stern Grove Festival Orchestra, Halau 'o Keikiali'i
- July 19: tUnE-yArDs, DakhaBrakha
- July 26: San Francisco Ballet, Halgi Tomasson, Artistic Director
- August 2: Mary Chapin Carpenter, Bhi Bhiman
- August 9: Morris Day and The Time, Con Brio
- August 16: Talib Kweli, Zakiya Harris featuring Elephantine
Click here for a list of other top festivals in San Francisco this month and throughout the year!
The Big Picnic
Each year, the Stern Grove Festival opens with The Big Picnic. This is the annual fundraiser and it starts at 11:30am. You need tickets to attend the picnic fundraiser between 11:30am and 2pm.
The concert starts at 2pm and is open to the public and free. It's always the largest event every year and seating is on a first come, first served basis. Although it is free to get in this day, buying a ticket to The Big Picnic guarantees you seating.
Locals and visitors enjoying the afternoon at Stern Grove
For this and all events, I recommend showing up early to secure a place to sit.
What to Bring
Since these concerts are free, there are very few amenities. Here are just a few of the items you will want to bring with you.
- Blanket or Camping Chairs: You won't find chairs or other seating, so I recommend bringing along something to sit on.
- Food & Drinks: There is a small cafe on site that sells a limited amount of food and beverages. You can also bring along your own and have a nice picnic lunch in the park during the concert.
- Alcohol: The cafe does not sell alcohol, but the park does allow you to drink beer and wine during the shows in the Concert Meadow and West Meadow.
- Warm Jackets & Clothing: Since Stern Grove is closer to the Pacific Ocean, it does get cooler here. Make sure you bring along a jacket or wear warm clothing in case the temperatures are cool during the show. You want to be prepared for the wind, fog and even a little sunshine.
Other Things You Need to Know
Since the concerts are crowded, here are just a few other things you need to know before you arrive.
- Arrival Time: I recommend heading over to the shows early. They only allow a certain number of people in, so you want to get there early enough to grab a seat. I like to head over no later than 1pm or so in order to get a good spot.
- Pets: No pets are allowed in this area of the park during the concerts. There are other areas open for pets, but they will not allow any within the concert seating area.
- Personal Belongings: Make sure you keep an eye on your personal items at all times. It gets crowded (and is free!), so can attract people looking to pick up a few unattended items.
- Recording/Photography: Both are not permitted during the shows. I recommend leaving your camera at home or the place you are staying, so you don't have to worry about it during the performances.
Other Popular Festivals This Summer
Union Square Live: From April to October, you can catch free cultural performances at SF's Union Square. These events are usually every Wednesday and Sunday. Click here for this year's festival.
Yerba Buena Gardens Festival: The Yerba Buena Gardens festival also offers month of free music and other cultural programs all summer long. This event offers performances several days a week between May and October. Click here for more details.
Sunday Streets: The annual Sunday Streets event features blocks of car-free streets in a specific district one Sunday a month. This allows pedestrians to bike, run or walk without worrying about car traffic. Each event also includes community activities such as live music, free health screenings and other activities. Click here for this year's schedule including details about the June Sunday Streets event.
Union Street Festival: The Union Street Festival is typically the kick off to SF's famous summer festival season. This lively event features live music, gourmet food and dozens of merchant booths with unique arts and crafts. You will also find a premium craft beer and wine tasting pavilion. Click here to learn more.
North Beach Street Festival: Another popular SF Street Fair is the North Beach Festival. This one also features live music, amazing street food and several fun activities for the kids. Click here to learn more about this year's festival.
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Tips to Get To Stern Grove
Stern Grove Park is on the corner of 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard in the city's Outer Sunset neighborhood.
Your best bet is to take public transit, since parking is very limited in this part of the city.
From Union Square
- Light Rail Trains: The fastest way to get here from Union Square is by taking either the M Ocean View or K Ingleside light rail trains. You can pick them up at the underground station at Powell and 5th Streets. Make sure you hop on an 'outbound' train.
- Stop: Take either of these to the stop at St. Francis Circle. You will then walk one block west to the park. There will be plenty of other people on these trains, so just follow the crowds.
- Timing: Allow for at least 35 to 40 minutes to get to the park.
From Fisherman's Wharf
- F Streetcar: Take this streetcar to the Embarcadero Station at Market and Drumm Streets.
- Light Rail Train: Head to the underground Embarcadero Station on this corner. Take either the M or K (outbound) trains to the St. Francis Circle stop. Walk one block west to the park.
- Timing: Allow at least 50 minutes to an hour to get here from Fisherman's Wharf.
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