50 Best Annual Events in San Francisco: Fireworks, Beer Festivals, Road Races, and More!

Jill on a windy day at the Golden Gate Bridge

by Jill Loeffler  •

Updated: September 6, 2023

You will find dozens of fun events each week in SF. However, there are a few that stand out above the others.

This list features 50 of the best annual events in San Francisco from January to December. It includes everything from wine tasting events to road races and everything in between.

Taiko Dojo Drummers during the Cherry Blossom Festival in SF.

Disclaimer: I receive a small commission from some of the links on this page.

1. NYE Fireworks Over the Bay

Start the New Year right by heading down to the waterfront, near the Bay Bridge and the Ferry Building, for the New Year's Eve Fireworks display. It starts at 11.59 pm on New Year's Eve.

>> Find out more

2. SF Sketchfest

Enjoy two weeks of comedy performances all around SF at this annual comedy festival in January and/or February.

>> Find out more for SF Sketchfest

3. ZAP Wine Festival

Sample new Zinfandel wines at the annual ZAP Wine Festival. It's held at the beginning of the year in either January or February.

>> More about the ZAP Festival

4. SF Giants Fan Fest

Celebrate with the SF Giants during Fan Fest at Oracle Park. It's a full day of autographs and family-friendly activities. You can also pick up tickets for any home games or buy gear for the upcoming season. This event is in February.

>> More about this events and a schedule of upcoming games

5. Chronicle Wine Tasting Event

Another popular February event is the Chronicle Wine Tasting Event. It's the largest competition of American wines in the world. It's at the Fort Mason Center.

>> Details for this year's event

6. Chinese New Year Parade

The Chinese New Year celebration offers a full month of activities. The most popular is the Chinese New Year Parade.

The event follows the lunar cycle, so the date changes each year. It is in January, February, or March.

>> Tips to attend

7. Pacific Orchid Expo

The Pacific Orchid Expo offers you the chance to see more than 150,000 orchids from around the world.

You can buy orchids during the expo, learn more during a workshop, or help raise money at the fund-raising auction. This event is in February.

8. Bay Area Brew Fest

The annual Bay Area Brew Fest is a great option for all beer lovers. Each January, they feature brews from more than 50 breweries. 

They also offer eats from local food trucks and music all day long. The even is held at the Fort Mason Center and features two sessions during the day (1 pm to 4 pm and 7 pm to 10 pm).

9. SF Theater

Every year, you will find dozens of top theater performances in San Francisco. They include award winning productions such as Wicked, the Lion King, and the Book of Mormon.

Almost any day of the week, you will also find small local productions at many of the theaters around SF. Performances run all year long.

>> Find a list of upcoming shows

10. Saint Patrick's Day Parade

Band playing in the annual St. Paddy's Day Parade in SF.

Head over to the Civic Center District for this year's Saint Patrick's Day Parade. The parade starts at 11:30am and offers about two hours of floats, bands, and other entertainment.

It's always the Saturday before or after Saint Patrick's Day.

>> Find out more about this year's event

>> Find fun things to do for Saint Patrick's Day

11. Giants Baseball

Opening day for the SF Giants is in April. They play 10 to 12 games at home every month through September.

They take on top teams such as the Los Angeles Dodgers, the San Diego Padres, and the Chicago Cubs.

All games are at Oracle Park.

>> Find details to attend a game and an upcoming calendar

12. Cherry Blossom Festival

Admire the cherry blossoms during this two-weekend long affair. It's held in Japantown and offers traditional cuisine, music, and other entertainment.

This event is in April.

>> Find out more about this year's event

13. San Francisco International Film Festival

One of the largest film festivals is held every April and May in San Francisco. The event features works from independent film makers from around the world.

>> More about this annual film festival

14. Cesar Chavez Parade & Festival

This annual event celebrates the life and work of civil rights lead Cesar Chavez. The event runs for one day in April and offers both a festival and parade.

You will find all activities in the Mission District in San Francisco.

>> Find out more about this year's event

15. International Beer Festival

Sample beer and help raise money for a great cause at the International Beer Festival. It features brews from more than 100 breweries and all ticket proceeds go to the Telegraph Hill Cooperative Nursery School.

It's in May each year.

16. How Weird Street Faire

Head to the South of Market District for this annual one of a kind event! It features 10 stages with live entertainment, dancers, music, and so much more.

It's in October each year.

17. Bay to Breakers

Participate in a San Francisco tradition, Bay to Breakers. Whether you are running, walking, or just watching on the sidelines, you will appreciate the colorful, quirky costumes by other runners.

This is in May.

>> Details about this year's Bay to Breakers

18. Carnaval Celebration

On Memorial Day Weekend, head over to the Mission to celebrate Latin and South American cultures at Carnaval. It includes a two-day festival with music, food, and dancing in the streets.

The vibrant parade is on Sunday morning.

>> More about this annual event

19. Yerba Buena Gardens Festival

This yearly summer festival in SOMA is dedicated to providing free artistic community programs.

The variety of activities available reflects the social diversity of the city and region: contemporary to traditional dance, theater, and music that ranges from classical to world and jazz.

20. North Beach Festival

Listen to live music, sample local foods, and admire street art at the annual North Beach Festival. This two-day event is in June.

>> More about this annual event

21. Union Street Festival

Another popular street fair in June is the Union Street Festival. It offers live music, wine tasting, a fashion show, and almost 200 arts and crafts booths.

>> Tips to attend

22. Haight-Ashbury Street Fair

One of the most anticipated annual fairs in San Francisco takes place in the iconic neighborhood where people to this day celebrate the 60s spirit of free love through art and music.

Enjoy local food, beer tents, and other merchants in all their psychedelic glory.

This event usually takes place in September.

>> Find out more

23. Stern Grove

Listen to free music in the park every Sunday afternoon at 2pm between mid-June and mid-August. You will find everything from world renowned artists to local favorites.

>> More about this year's event

24. Escape from Alcatraz

This triathlon starts with a swim from Alcatraz to the shores of San Francisco. It then includes a bike ride and run around the hilly streets of SF. It's every June.

>> Visit their site to learn more

25. Juneteenth

The Juneteenth event celebrates the abolition of slavery with a one-day festival. It's held on Fillmore Street every June and features live music, an auto show, and a health and wellness pavilion.

>> More about this annual festival

26. Pride Parade & Festival

Celebrate the LGBT community at this lively festival and parade. This two-day event is in the Civic Center District near City Hall. The well attended parade is on Sunday morning starting at 10:30am.

>> More details about this year's parade and festival

27. Fourth of July Fireworks on the Bay

Fireworks over the boats in Pier 39 SF.

Watch fireworks over the bay just after dark on Fourth of July. You will find them along the northern waterfront near Fisherman's Wharf. Stop by earlier in the day to enjoy other family friendly activities and live music.

>> Fourth of July fireworks

28. Fillmore Jazz Festival

One of the biggest jazz festivals in the US is the Fillmore Jazz Festival. It's held the weekend of Fourth of July and offers two-days of free, live jazz music in the Pacific Heights District.

>> Fillmore Jazz Festival details

29. San Francisco Marathon

Run through the streets of San Francisco during this annual marathon. It's every July.

30. Outside Lands Music Festival

The largest music festival here is Outside Lands. For three days, thousands of music lovers enjoy live music in Golden Gate Park. It's in August.

>> Details about this year's festival

31. Eat Drink SF

Savor delicious cuisines from top local chefs at Eat Drink SF. Participating restaurants offer special meals and deals throughout this event.

It lasts for ten days in October.

32. 49ers Football

Cruise south of the city to catch a San Francisco 49ers game in Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara. Pre-season starts in August and the season ends in December.

>> More about this year's season

33. Renegade Craft Fair

This fair actually takes place twice a year, in the spring and winter, featuring unique and creative goods by local and national artists. In addition to the craft booths here, you'll also find fun installations as well as food and drink at this Fort Mason Center event.

Top Hotels in Fisherman's Wharf

Are you looking for a great place to stay? Make sure to check out these top-rated options in Fisherman's Wharf.

34. Comedy Day in Golden Gate Park

Laugh the day away at this free comedy festival in Golden Gate Park. For one day, local comedians give back to the community for their support throughout the year. It's in September.

>> More about this year's event

35. Opera in the Park

Every September, the SF Opera offers a free show with the performers from their opening opera of the season. It's in Golden Gate Park and usually the second weekend in September.

36. San Francisco Greek Food Festival

Savor traditional Greek cuisines including Spanakopita, Moussaka, Kotopoulo, and Gyros. This three-day event is at the Annunciation Cathedral in the Mission every September.

37. Fall Antiques Show

The Fall Antiques show hosts 60 dealers with high-end antiques from the US and Europe. Items include silver, jewelry, ceramics, glass, furniture, and much more. It's held in the Fort Mason Center in October.

38. Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting

Each year the 100 wineries that have performed best in Wine & Spirits Magazine tastings gather in the Metreon, where guests get to mingle with the winemakers.

The evening offers the chance to taste exceptional wines and pairings with local artisan food.

39. Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival

Listen to free, live music at Golden Gate Park this October. Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is three days of music from both internationally recognized and popular local artists.

It's held in Golden Gate Park.

>> More about this year's line-up

40. Castro Street Fair

Have fun the first weekend in October at the Castro Street Fair. This long running festival includes live music, dancing in the streets, and some of the most colorful characters you will ever meet.

>> Details for this year's event

41. Fleet Week

Blue Angels flying over Pier 39

Spend the weekend along the waterfront during this October's Fleet Week.

The event includes a large airshow that ends with the Blue Angels, the chance to hop aboard a military ship to learn more about it, and plenty of live music, food, and fun.

>> More about enjoying Fleet Week

42. Open Studios

Step inside local artists' studios on this four-weekend long event. Each weekend, a new set of artists in certain districts open their doors to the public.

You can buy unique pieces and talk to the artists about their craft.

43. Leap's Sandcastle Classic

Head to Ocean Beach to watch artists create amazing sandcastles. Leap's Sandcastle Classic is a fundraiser as well as a great family-friendly event.

It's usually in mid- to late-October.

44. Litquake

Discover two full weeks of literary events during Litquake. It includes everything from author panels to workshops on how to write.

It's typically in October.

>> More about Litquake

45. SuperNatural at the Cal Academy

Have some Halloween fun with the family at San Francisco's renowned California Academy of Sciences.

In addition to the dinosaur bones and live, creepy-crawly animal demonstrations, this festive event includes costumes, a silent disco, trick-or-treating stations, magic shows, face painting, and so much more. 

46. Day of the Dead Festival of the Altars

Each November 2, the Mexican and Latin American community comes together to welcome the spirits of their deceased ancestors through colorful altars, prayers, poetry, performances, and dance.

This event is celebrated in Potrero del Sol Park in the Mission District.

>> Find more details here

47. SF International Auto Show

Check out next year's top models at the SF International Auto Show at Moscone Center every November. It features 38 of the world's top car manufacturers displaying their new cars, SUVs, and trucks.

48. Union Square Holiday Tree Display

Celebrate the season in Union Square by enjoying their annual Christmas Tree. Every year, they erect a towering Christmas Tree in the center of Union Square.

They typically light it first the first time the week before Thanksgiving. The tree is then lit every night though the end of December.

>> More great holiday events around SF

49. SF Ballet's Nutcracker Performance

The SF Ballet was the first US company to perform the Nutcracker in 1944. Each year, they offer several performances throughout the month of December. Stop by the War Memorial Opera House to take part in this holiday tradition.

>> Check out details for this year's performances

50. SantaCon

Throw on your best Santa costume and stroll around San Francisco with thousands of others dressed in red and white.

SantaCon is a non-political, non-violent, non-controversial day that is meant to be fun and entertaining for both the Santas and those they run into on the streets.

>> Find out more about this year's event

Comments? Questions? Suggestions?

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