Fleet Week San Francisco is an annual event that draws thousands of people into the city. It began in 1981 to honor the US Armed Forces and to educate civilians and military personnel about best practices in humanitarian assistance. It's held every year in San Francisco on the first or second weekend in October.
This year, Fleet Week is October 2 - 9, 2017. Most activities and the large air show are over the weekend of October 6 - 8. You will find additional ship tours throughout the week.
The US Navy Blue Angels are set to perform on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoon from 3pm to 4pm. They will do some practice runs on Thursday also.
Other air show performers include the Navy Leap Frogs, Team Oracle, United Airlines, RCAF, USCG, Lucas Oil Air Shows, Air Force F16, and the Canadian Snowbirds.
You can also enjoy the Parade of Ships on Friday or head out on a cruise to watch the Blue Angels perform from the water.
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Here is the schedule of this year's Fleet Week activities:
Tuesday, October 3
Wednesday, October 4
Thursday, October 5
Friday, October 6
Saturday, October 7
Sunday, October 8
Monday, October 9
*Schedule of events is subject to change at anytime.
Red & White Fleet 2.5-Hour Fleet Week Cruise
Blue & Gold 2-Hour Cruise
Cruise on the SS Jeremiah O'Brien
Fleet Week Float
The northern side of San Francisco along the bay is CROWDED during the air show. If you want to sit down, you will need to arrive at least an hour before the Blue Angels perform.
Most of the Air Show takes place over the bay, around Fort Mason. You can find a place to watch on either side.
The view of the Blue Angels from the bottom deck at Pier 39.
Here are a few places to watch the Air Show with some additional notes to think about for each option:
Here are a few event and tour tickets for this weekend at up to 50% off on Goldstar.
*Small service fee at checkout.
As part of the Fleet Week celebrations, between October 1 - 9, the California Academy of Sciences is offering free admission to all active, reserve, retired and veteran military personnel. This museum is located in Golden Gate Park on the western side of San Francisco.
To get in for free, please provide them with your military ID or proof of service.
These are some of the other fun things to do during Fleet Week San Francisco.
Catch a theater performance during your time in San Francisco. Every year, the Golden Gate and Orpheum Theaters welcome hit Broadway musicals like Hamilton to the stage. In addition, smaller theater companies perform at a variety of venues all over town.
If you love literature, you will love Litquake. This two-week event focuses on literature and features presentations, panel discussions, and other events. You will find several events during Fleet Week San Francisco.
More: Find more details here
Every day of the week, SF City Guides offers free walking tours in different districts all over town. Learn more about the Golden Gate Bridge, Union Square, the Palace of Fine Arts, and more.
If you love to listen to live music, then you will find plenty of options this weekend in SF. We have venues large and small with everything from well known artists to popular local bands.
Since thousands of people attend Fleet Week each year, I highly recommend booking early.
I also recommend checking out the special deals on TripAdvisor.com. They offer discounts on dozens of hotels throughout San Francisco. You can get a special price on your room, receive free parking, and more. Click here to check out their current offers so you can save on your room today!
The tours of the ships are wildly popular. All tours are free and they encourage you to interact with the sailors on board. I recommend showing up well before they open their doors, as it's first come, first served and the lines get long fast.
Below are a few of my photos from previous years for each activity. They will give you an idea of what to expect this year.
The Parade of Ships is the official start of the Fleet Week celebrations in San Francisco. All of the ships for the event come in under the Golden Gate Bridge and head to their designated pier in San Francisco. You can tour all of these ships during the three-day celebration.
A couple of years ago, my mom, sister, and I were on Alcatraz Island during the Parade of Ships, which is one of the best places to be for this event. Here are just some of my pictures from that day.
The Parade of Ships is about ready to begin. The boats at the bottom of the picture are all waiting for the parade to start. In the background is the Golden Gate Bridge, which is where all the boats enter the San Francisco Bay for the event.
This is one of the first boats coming in for Fleet Week San Francisco. You can see the downtown San Francisco skyline in the background.
This is one of the largest ships that come into San Francisco for Fleet Week. It's an aircraft carrier and is open for tours all weekend. In the background are the Presidio and the Palace of Fine Arts.
This is a second look at the aircraft carrier heading into San Francisco. It's close to Alcatraz Island and making its way to its pier to set up for tours. You can again see downtown San Francisco including the Transamerica building in the background.
The event that most people come out for is the air show on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 12pm to 4pm. There are several performances during the four-hour show.
All three days, the air show finishes with an amazing performance by the Blue Angels. They always start their performance a little after 3pm. Even if you have watched them before, you will never get tired of seeing their performance over the San Francisco Bay.
Here are just a few of my Blue Angel photos from previous Fleet Week San Francisco performances. This is a shot of just four of the six Blue Angels doing a maneuver. This is another shot from Pier 39.
This is another shot of the Blue Angels, in the distance, performing over the San Francisco Bay. In front is a crowd of people and the sea lions near Pier 39.
The smoke trailing the Blue Angels as they perform another maneuver.
The Blue Angels get daringly close during their performance. My camera does not have a great zoom, so this shows just how close you will feel from the viewing area!
You can also head out to catch some of the practice sessions on Thursday, October 5 between 12pm and 4pm and on Friday, October 6 between 12:30pm and 4pm. There are fewer people around and they don't perform their entire show. However, it's a great way to catch the action if you are not going to be around on Saturday or Sunday.
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