San Francisco Events in October 2021

Jill on a windy day at the Golden Gate Bridge

by Jill Loeffler  •

Updated: September 27, 2021

Proof of vaccination is now required for certain indoor activities. Learn more here

Top San Francisco events in October include concerts, festivals, and family-friendly things to do. You will also find Broadway shows, opera, and other theater performances. 

Some of the biggest this month include Fleet Week, the Outside Lands Music Festival, and the Castro Street Fair. You also don't want to miss Litquake, Brews on the Bay, and the Italian Heritage Parade.

You will also find some great tours, cruises, and other activities to help you explore the gorgeous City by the Bay.

Read on for a full calendar of what's happening this month around SF and the Bay Area.

Halloween Activities

Fun Halloween cemetery in a local San Francisco districtHalloween decorations around San Francisco.

Date: 10/31

San Francisco is one of the best places to celebrate Halloween each year. You will find activities that range from trick-or-treating to 21+ party cruises around the SF Bay. 

This year, Halloween falls on a Sunday. You will find plenty of activities the day of the holiday as well as on the Friday and Saturday before.

My insider's guide will include the best options for all dates and some of the biggest San Francisco events in October.

>> Visit the Halloween page for a full list of this year's activities

Fleet Week

Blue Angels and the Parade of Ships during Fleet WeekBlue Angels and the Parade of Ships during Fleet Week, One of the best San Francisco events in October!

Dates: October 3 - 11, Blue Angels Perform on October 8, 9, and 10

Location: Fisherman's Wharf & waterfront

Join the crowds that come out to the waterfront every year for SF's Fleet Week to be wowed by the Blue Angels roaring by in formation just overhead. The Blue Angels will perform on Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

Festivities will kick off with the Parade of Ships and throughout the week you can watch airshow practices and tour military ships as well. It's by far the biggest of the San Francisco events in October.

>> Get the full Fleet Week schedule and photos of what to expect

Sporting Events in San Francisco in October

Artwork outside the Chase Center for the Golden State WarriorsArtwork outside the Chase Center for the Golden State Warriors

Golden State Warriors

Dates: Preseason, 10/6, 10/8 & 10/15 -- Regular season, 10/21, 10/28 & 10/30

Location: Chase Center in SF

Catch the Golden State Warriors in pre-season and season play this October. 

They play at the brand new Chase Center in SF and a game at their home arena is a must for all basketball lovers. 

They play around a half dozen games this month at home.

Their tickets sell out early, so don't miss your chance to see one of our top sports teams from around the SF Bay.

>> Find more details on seeing a Golden State Warriors home game

49ers Football

Date: 10/3 & 10/24

Location: Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara

Tickets: Find tickets online for both games

Get in on the action at Levi's Stadium, as the San Francisco 49ers play their seventh season in Santa Clara, just an hour south of the city. 

This month, the 49ers have two home games.

The first is on 10/3 against the Seattle Seahawks. Their second game is on 10/24 against the Indianapolis Colts. Go Niners! 

>> Click here for the full schedule, how to get to the stadium, and more

Bay Area College Football

Cal Bears: The Cal Bears play in Berkeley which is about an hour north east of SF. They play three home games this October against Washington State, Colorado, and Oregon State. Learn more here

Stanford: Stanford plays down south about 45 minutes away from SF. This month, they play two home games this month against Oregon and Washington. Learn more here

San Jose Sharks

Dates: Preseason, 10/4 & 10/9; Season, 10/16, 10/28 & 10/30

If you love hockey, you can also head south for some NHL action. Our San Jose Sharks start play this month and offer about a half dozen home games this month. 

They play about an hour south of SF and the SAP Center offers easy access from locations all around the SF Bay.

>> Get this year's Sharks schedule

Theater Performances in October

Dates: 10/13 - 11/7

This month's big Broadway performance is Jesus Christ Superstar! It follows the story of Jesus during his final week of life. 

It includes other top people in his life as well including Pontius Pilate, Mary Magdalene, and others. It's very different from other performances as it shows both his strengths and his weaknesses. It makes him feel very human as he get advice from those around him as well as accepts others for the lives they lead. 

The show is at the Golden Gate Theater with several performances each week.

>> Get a calendar of additional theater performance this month

Museums: Free Days, Exhibits, & Other Museum Events

An exhibit at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.An exhibit at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.

Free Museum Days: SF boasts a number of world-renowned museums, but visiting all of them can be pricey. Luckily, each month there are several free admission days! These free admissions include access to these museums' permanent collections and you will need to pay extra for any special exhibits. Some require that you book tickets in advance online as they are some of the most popular San Francisco events in October. Find out which dates are offered at which museums.

Museum Exhibits: San Francisco has a wealth of interesting, beautiful, and diverse museums, offering fascinating exhibits throughout the year. Check out the complete list and exact dates for the top museums

Live Music & Concerts

One of our largest music festivals will take place this October, Outside Lands. It's typically in early August, but this year, it will be held over Halloween Weekend.

This three day festival includes almost a dozen performers on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Headliners this year include The Strokes, Lizzo, and Tame Impala. The festival is in Golden Gate Park. Learn more about it here

In addition to the festival, most venues are fully open in San Francisco. You will find shows at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, the Masonic Center, the Chase Center, and the Fillmore.

In addition to these San Francisco events in October, you will also find dozens of amazing concerts throughout the Bay Area. 

>> Check out the complete list of upcoming concerts

More Live Music & Performances Around SF

SF Symphony: The world renowned San Francisco Symphony offers more than one hundred events each year, and people from all over come to the elegant Davies Symphony Hall to see their most anticipated San Francisco events in October. This month, you can enjoy Kendall, Chin, & Beethoven (10/7 - 10/9), Exotic Birds: Dubussy, Messiaen, & Saariaho (10/14 - 10/17) and Bronfman Plays Beethoven (10/28 - 10/30). See the complete schedule of performances.

SF Opera: Going to the San Francisco Opera is an unforgettable experience. This month, you can catch a performance of Fidelio, by Ludwig Van Beethoven. It's the story of what one woman will do in an attempt to find why here activist-husband disappeared. Find more information about this and other operas this season.

Comedy Performances

If you're looking for a lighthearted night of comedy, you'll find plenty of shows in San Francisco almost every night of the week. 

These shows include famous stand-up comedians, local stars, improv troupes, and comic musicals. It's a great way to spend an evening in the City by the Bay.

>> Get more info about comedy performances this month 

Festivals & Street Fairs

Rainbow flag at Castro and Market StreetsThe Rainbow Flag at Castro & Market Streets, the location for the large, annual Castro Street Fair.

Aloha Poly Fest (10/16): This year's annual Aloha Polyfest takes place along the Marina Green West in SF's Marina District. This free event is a great place to learn more about Polynesian, Melanesian, and Micronesian cultures through music, food, and other activities. You can also visit the Marketplace for unique and rare items for sale. The kids zone offers face painting and several hands on activities. It runs from 11am to 5pm.

Italian Heritage Parade & Festival (10/9 & 10/10): San Francisco is home to the country's oldest Italian American Parade, which takes place every year as part of the Columbus Day celebration. Follow the parade of floats, bands, and traditional Italian musicians from Fisherman's Wharf to the heart of North Beach (SF's Little Italy), where it will conclude at a small festival in Washington Square Park. It's one of the top family-friendly San Francisco events in October. Find more details about the parade

Urban Art Market (10/3): Urban Air Market is the biggest outdoor design festival in the US, with events all over the country. At each event, the marketplace focuses on sustainable design, building community, promoting independent artists, and supporting the local economy. For the fall SF market, head over to Hayes Valley and check out the unique fashion design, accessories, body products, home décor, and other types of art. This is one of the San Francisco events in September that runs from 11am to 6pm. Visit the organization's website for event details

Noise Pop's 20th Street Block Party (10/16): Join the diverse community of SF's colorful Mission District for the fifth annual 20th Street Block Party--a free celebration of summer, music, and great food. Noise Pop, which also co-hosts the Treasure Island Music Festival, is one of the leading independent music promoters in the country, bringing the best emerging bands to stage. Some of the featured artists from previous years include Miami Horror, Chicano Batman, Hazel English, and Spooky Mansion. 

Litquake (10/7 - 10/23): Every year, SF's longest running literary festival brings light to great reads and the world of literature through a variety of venues, including churches, bookstores, and even popular bars. For over a week, you get to engage with authors, participate in workshops, attend panel discussions and groups readings, and more. Check out the full schedule of events and locations.

Castro Street Fair (10/3): This year is the 47th anniversary of the Castro Street Fair, which was started by Harvey Milk to celebrate the LGBT community and their supporters. The all-day (11am-6pm) fair features gourmet food, live music on two stages, lots of dancing in the streets, and more. Join in on the fun at Market and Castro Streets, in the heart of the colorful, lively Castro district. It's one of the most talked about San Francisco events in October every year! Read more details about this festival.

Eat Drink SF (10/15 - 10/24): This year's event is a 10-day foodies dream. It will include prix-fixe menus at restaurants all around San Francisco. There are also specific dining events as well as neighborhood nights. Visit their site to learn more.

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass (Virtual on 10/1 - 10/3, Live event postponed to 2022): Don't miss the 19th year of this huge free bluegrass festival. For three days, several stages in Golden Gate Park will feature the biggest names in the genre. Pack your own refreshments for a picnic in the park, or check out the more than 50 gourmet food and beverage vendors, in addition to the great music. Find out who's playing this year and how to get there.

Potrero Hill Festival (10/16): If you're looking for a fun weekend activity for the whole family, head over to the Potrero Hill Festival on 20th Street between Missouri and Wisconsin. On a beautiful fall day, this is the perfect place to enjoy two stages of live entertainment, food stalls, bouncy houses, a petting zoo, and more. In addition, you'll find arts and crafts for sale as well as information from various non-profit organizations. 

San Francisco Wharf Fest (TBD): Fisherman's Wharf is excited to announce the return of Wharf Fest, San Francisco's beloved waterfront festival, as well as their first-ever open-air benefit concert which includes eight hours of musical performances from four up-and-coming local bands and performers. The festival will be the first venue in San Francisco to host musical supergroup The Side Deal, comprised of Grammy-winning artist Charlie Colin of Train, Stan Frazier of the chart-topping band Sugar Ray, and brothers Joel and Scott Owen of The PawnShop kings.  The famed Chowder Competition will also now include food and beer tastings. Visit this page for more details.

Brews on the Bay (TBD): If you enjoy artisanal brews and Saturday afternoons soaking in a sea breeze with great views, you won't want to miss this unique beer festival. This popular craft brew tasting features over 60 beers on tap, and you'll have the opportunity to mingle with the brewers and ask them questions. There will also be gourmet food trucks on hand. The event is held aboard the historic S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien, a ship that served in WWII and is now docked at Pier 45 in Fisherman's Wharf.

Pinots & Plaid (TBD): Head over to Hiberia Bank for Pinots & Plaid hosted by Emily Martin Events. This wine tasting event features 25 Pinot Noir producers from Northern California. These fine wines will be paired with high-end cuisine in the restored, historic Hiberia Bank. Celebrity Chef Ryan Scott of Ryan Scott 2go Catering will be serving up his delicious creations. Other partners serving dishes for the event include Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company, Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates, B Patisserie & The Caviar Co (for VIP guests). VIP tickets are $185 and General Admission is $115. All food, drink and culinary programs are included with your ticket. This is a 21+ event and IDs will be checked at the door.

San Francisco International Tea Festival (TBD): This year's International Tea Festival is scheduled for Saturday, November 6 at the Fort Mason Center. At this event, you will get the chance to sample a variety of teas from around the world. You will also receive your own teacup to sample during the event. All of the teas will be on sale too, so you can easily pick up anything you want! 

Fiesta On the Hill (TBD): Head over to the Bernal Heights district for this year's Fiesta on the Hill. This family-friendly event will feature live music, dancing, food trucks, and family activities. The event takes place on Cortland Avenue. 

Film Festivals in San Francisco in October

SF International Festival of Short Films (10/7 - 10/9): Though short in length, short films can be quite powerful and profound. Over the course of three days, the SF Shorts Festival offers six different programs of films from 17 countries, each set revolving around a different theme, for example: "being fearless in discovery," "the push and pull of passion, obsession, and desire," and "our impact on others." Catch the screenings at the Roxie Theater in the Mission District.

United Nations Association Film Festival (10/21 - 10/31): Each year, the UNAFF features a selection of over 60 documentary films about important issues from all over the world. The theme for this year's festival is Compass for a Better World. Screenings will take place in SF, East Palo Alto, and Stanford University. 

Japan Film Festival of San Francisco (TBD): This nine-day festival of films about Japan and the Japanese community will take place at the NEW PEOPLE Cinema in Japantown. It is a great opportunity to gain insight into Japanese culture. The film festival is a prominent feature of the J-POP Summit, an annual cultural festival that highlights Japanese film, music, fashion, technology, and more. Get more details about this year's festival.

>> Get the full calendar of all SF film festivals

Other Events

Wine & Spirits Magazine's Top 100 Tasting (10/14): Head over to City View in the Metreon for this year's Annual Wine & Spirits Magazine's Top 100 Tasting event. Sip on wine from the Top 100 Wineries of the Year as you meet some of the world's top producers. Small bites from some of the best Bay Area restaurant will also be on hand serving up items such as fresh oysters, local cheeses and an array of artisan specialties. You will also be supporting a wonderful cause. The Wine & Spirits Magazine's Top 100 Tasting benefits San Francisco Baykeeper. They work hard locally to protect water resources. They also provide support to initiatives fighting water pollution. Tickets are on sale now and range from $135-185.

Fall Art & Antiques Show (10/15 - 10/24): If you have an appreciation for fine art and unique antique pieces, you'll love this large annual event at the Fort Mason Center. The show opens with a preview gala on October 2, followed by four days of viewing and buying beautiful pieces. Find out more on the organization's website.

Leap's Sandcastle Classic (10/23): The largest sandcastle competition in Northern California is not only fun for the family and a great excuse to get the community together out on the beach; it also raises money for a fantastic organization, Leap, that brings hands-on learning experiences to over 6,000 students across the Bay Area. Head on over to Ocean Beach between 11am and 4pm to witness some dazzling sand creations! Visit the event website to see pictures and find out more

Open Studios (9/16 - 10/17): Open Studios runs all month long, so you can take your time getting to know over 800 artists and their work all over the city. Each weekend will feature different districts, where you can wander in and out of the studios in that area to chat with the artists and purchase pieces on display. This one of the unique San Francisco events in October that gives you the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at the art scene in SF.

Fashion Week (10/24 - 10/30): As one of the world's leading hubs of innovation and a melting pot of cultures, it seems only natural that the theme of this year's annual SF Fashion Week be Innovating Fashion's Diverse Culture. This week-long convention will show how diversity became the battle cry of the fashion industry. Check out the full schedule of events and find out how you can launch your own fashion product. 

Hotel Deals in SF

Are you planning to stay a night or two (or more!) as you enjoy these San Francisco events in October. If so, then make sure to check out the great deals below before booking your room. You will find top deals in Fisherman's Wharf, Union Square, and other top districts around SF.

TripAdvisorWhat's the #1 hotel in San Francisco? Read reviews & find hotel deals on TripAdvisor!

Booking: Find great deals all around San Francisco for your upcoming stay

SF Cruises in October

Crusing the SF BayA cruise on the SF Bay

Head down to SF's beautiful waterfront for one of the top San Francisco events in October. This month, spend an hour or two on the water as you soak in the views around the SF Bay.

You will find more than a dozen cruises leaving SF daily. After leaving SF, many of them cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge, near Sausalito, and around Alcatraz. Some include food and drinks, some include narration, and all offer an unforgettable experience.

Here are just a few of the most popular.

SF Bay Cruise: This 60-minute Bay Cruise is by far the most booked cruise. It runs several times a day, which allows you to choose what time works best for your schedule. You'll cruise along the SF coast, under the Golden Gate Bridge, near Alcatraz, and back to Fisherman's Wharf. Find tickets for your upcoming stay

Sunset Sailing Cruise: This is one of the most popular cruises each month and one of my favorites in October. This 1.5 hour sunset catamaran cruise takes sail from Pier 39 nightly at 5:30pm this month. Make sure to arrive at least 30 minutes in advance. Find tickets for all dates.

Golden Gate Whale Watch: This month, head out to the Pacific Ocean to search for migrating whales nearby. Whales typically in migration this month include Blue and Humpback whales. You will also get the chance to see dolphins, sea turtles, birds and a variety of other sea animals. These 2.5 hours cruises leave three times a day from Fisherman's Wharf. Check for ticket availability.

Wine Tours from San Francisco

Ripe grapes on the vines in Napa Valley during harvest.Ripe grapes on the vines in Napa Valley during harvest.

One of the best San Francisco events in October is our wine tours. These tours take you up to two famous regions in Northern California: Napa Valley & Sonoma. 

This time of year, you will find both regions buzzing with last minute harvest activities. You can also get some great pictures of those last bundles of fully ripe grapes on the vines.

I love heading up on one of these tours as I don't have to worry about driving back to SF. It makes it a great way to do some tasting and not have to think about getting back to San Francisco afterwards.

In addition, you will learn quite a bit about one or both regions from your knowledgeable guide. 

Here are a few of my top picks this month.

Sonoma & Napa Wine Country Tour: This full day tour takes you to three wineries. It leaves SF at 9am daily. You will also have an hour for lunch on your own, so you can enjoy a tasty meal or do a little more tasting on your own. Find availability here.

Small Group Wine Tasting Tour: If you prefer to head up with a smaller group, then check out this tour. You will stop at three wineries in Napa including a tour of the Castello di Amorosa's medieval castle. Find availability here

>> Find additional tips for visiting these two popular regions

Additional Tips to Visit San Francisco in October

Things to Do: Are you looking for additional fun things to do during your visit? If so, then check out my full list of the best things to do this month in SF. It includes the top cruises, tours, and other activities. Additional things to do in SF in October

What to Wear in SF in October: Are you unsure of what you will need to pack for your stay in October? My guide to the weather in October is just what you need to prepare. It includes information on what to expect from the weather throughout each day and the month. Tips on what to pack for your stay in October

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