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Martin Luther King, Jr. Festival and Parade: Honor MLK in San Francisco in 2023

Jill on a windy day at the Golden Gate Bridge

by Jill Loeffler  •

Updated: October 10, 2022

Every year, the Northern California Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Foundation puts on a week-long festival to celebrate the life and work of MLK. It features a parade, film festival, arts festival, health & wellness festival, and more.

This year's event runs from Monday, January 11 - Monday, January 16. 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.

2023 Schedule of Events

These are the events planned for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday.

King & Faith Symposium and Events

Dates: 1/14

This is now just on 1/16 at 4pm. This important discussion will be about Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy and will discuss where we go from here. 

It will include four panelists.

It will be held online only.

Liberation Film Festival

Dates: 1/14

This year's Martin Luther King, Jr. Festival also includes the Liberation Film Festival starting at 12 pm. It features both short-format cinema and human interest documentaries aimed at reaching new and diverse audiences.

The film screenings are free and open to the public. They will take place at the Yerba Buena Center Theater and Screening Room, and the Freedom Theater at the Museum of the African Diaspora.

The Black and Brown Comix Arts Festival

Dates: 1/14 - 1/16

This three day event features the creative works by people of color. It includes comic arts, pop culture and hundreds of other pieces.

It's a great place to find pieces from talented up and coming artists.

This event is free and is at the Yerba Buena Gardens.

Events Only on Monday, January 16

Health & Wellness Festival

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. It runs from 11 am to 5 pm at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts gardens, which is outdoors.

Labor and Community Breakfast

The 2023 Labor and Community Breakfast will be held on January 16 from 8 am to 10 am at the Marriott Marquis. 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 is a ticketed event, I recommend picking up your tickets in advance.

Parade/March

The largest event this weekend is the parade/march. It will be on Monday, January 16 at 11 am.

This 1.5-mile march starts at SF's Caltrain Station (4th and King) and crosses over the Lefty O'Doul Bridge near Oracle 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. This is where you can enjoy several other events that will take places throughout the day.

Music Festival

This year's music festival on the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday will feature a live taping for the show I Remember That Song.

It will take place outdoors at the Yerba Buena Gardens. In attendance will be their host Gerry Dove with some special guests including Russell Gatewood, DJ Flash of "The World Famous Rick & Russ Show," and other DJs, radio personalities, and artists.

These performances will take place on the Esplanade Stage.

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

Best Places to Stay in San Francisco

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.

Other Fun Events this Month in SF

SF Sketchfest: One of the largest comedy festivals in the area offers several avows 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.

SF Museum Exhibits: Every month, San Francisco museums house some of the best traveling exhibits in the world. Click here for the full January calendar.

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