Stern Grove Festival San Francisco: 2020 Calendar & Tips to Attend This Popular Festival

This year the Stern Grove Festival in San Francisco celebrates its 81st anniversary. The 2020 season runs from June 14 to August 16.

Note: The Stern Grove festival will be held online this year. Since they are unable to welcome everyone in person, each Sunday from June 14 to August 16, they will play the Best of the Fest. They will also have some special guests throughout the season. You can watch these performances at anytime (after their launch dates) on their site. Visit their site for details.

Every Sunday at 2pm during the summer months, you will find a free concert in the park. The shows usually last two to three hours and are wildly popular.

Stern Grove Festival with crowd and stageLocals and visitors enjoying the afternoon at Stern Grove. Photo courtesy of

2019 Schedule (2020 Announced on April 2)

Here are the events and performers planned for Stern Grove 2019.

  • 6/16: Digable Planets and Bang Data
  • 6/23: Los Van Van and Banda Sin Nombre
  • 6/30: Galactic and Baby & The Luvies
  • 7/7: San Francisco Symphony with Edwin Outwater Conductor
  • 7/14: Mitski and Madeline Kenney
  • 7/21: Toots and the Maytals, Lee Fields and The Expressions
  • 7/28: San Francisco Ballet with Helgi Tomasson, Artistic Director
  • 8/4: The Psychedelic Furs and James
  • 8/11: Pink Martini and Barrio Manouche
  • 8/18: The Big Picnic with The Isley Brothers

The Big Picnic

This year, the Stern Grove Festival end their season with the Big Picnic, which is their annual fundraiser, and the only event each summer that requires a ticket to get in. You will then be able to enjoy the concert from this special area. The Big Picnic precedes the opening concert from 11:30am and 2pm.

The concert itself is free and open to the public, and starts at 2pm. This last concert is one of the largest event of the season and seating can be hard to find. Since it's on a first-come, first-served basis, the only way to guarantee yourself seating is buy purchasing tickets to the Big Picnic.

For all events in the series, 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: Neither pictures nor video is 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 free music and other cultural programs all summer long. Performances are held 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 on one Sunday each month. This allows pedestrians to bike, run, or walk without worrying about traffic. Each event also provides live music, free health screenings, and other community activities. Click here for this year's schedule.

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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