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Shakespeare | © Al Go/YouTube
Shakespeare | © Al Go/YouTube

How To Celebrate Shakespeare In The Bay Area

Picture of Courtney Holcomb
Updated: 26 July 2016
The anniversary of Shakespeare’s death may have passed in the spring, but the Shakespeare 400 celebration continues on all year. From plays and festivals to Shakespeare-inspired landmarks and restaurants, read on to find out the best ways you can celebrate the Bard’s legacy around the Bay Area this year.

Attend the SF Shakespeare Festival

San Francisco’s Shakespeare Festival is a non-profit theater company that puts on a well-known production of Free Shakespeare in the Park. The festival’s mission is ‘to make the words and themes of Shakespeare accessible to everyone, regardless of age, ethnicity, financial status, or education level.’ This year’s festival programs include Free Shakespeare in the Park, Shakespeare On Tour, Tailor-Made Residencies, The Bay Area Shakespeare Camps, Midnight Shakespeare, and Shakespeare for All. Check out the season’s calendar and see details about what’s playing.

Visit SF’s Shakespeare Garden

The Garden of Shakespeare’s Flowers is a garden in Golden Gate Park filled with plants and flowers that are mentioned in Shakespeare’s works. The garden contains over 200 of these plants, accompanied by bronze plaques engraved with the quotations associated with the plants. Weddings are often held in this romantic setting, filled with serene greenery and colorful flowers. The garden features a cobblestone pathway lined with trees, leading to a sundial in the middle of the garden.

Catch a Shakespeare Play

A number of Bay Area theater companies are hosting Shakespeare plays this season, so plan on a night out at the theater. The Silicon Valley Shakespeare Company will be hosting a production of Julius Caesar from July 29th to September 2nd at Sanborn Park in Saratoga. The Marin Shakespeare Company will be hosting a production of Twelfth Night from July 22nd to August 21st and Othello from August 26th to September 25th. The Pacific Repertory Theatre will be hosting King Lear from October 20th to November 6th and Twelfth Night from September 29th to October 16th. Santa Cruz Shakespeare Company will be hosting A Midsummer Night’s Dream from July 12th to August 28th and Hamlet from July 26th to August 28th.

Enroll in a Shakespeare Camp

The San Francisco Shakespeare Festival hosts annual summer camps for kids and teens. These consist of two-week sessions in which kids study Shakespeare’s works and participate in a variety of interactive classes and workshops. Each session closes with campers putting on an abridged performance of a Shakespeare play. The various camps include the Sprites Camp for ages 4-6, Shakespeare Players Camp for ages 7-13, Upstart Crows Camp for ages 12-18, and the Advanced Shakespeare Workshop for ages 12-18.

Visit the Shakespeare Society of America

The Shakespeare Society of America has hosted over 6,000 visitors from over 50 countries at the New Shakespeare Sanctuary. The SSA has a mission: ‘To provide Public Benefit Programs which inspire education and personal development Through the Works of William Shakespeare Relating to history, culture, literature, theatre and art in America.’ To that end, SSA preserves a collection of over 3,000 rare books and references, a collection of over 1,000 museum and memorabilia pieces, a collection of over 1,000 visual art pieces, and a theatre arts archive featuring over 10,000 items.

Shakespeare Society of America, 7981 Moss Landing Rd, Moss Landing, CA, USA, +1 831 633 2989

Take Part in a Renaissance Fair

The Bay Area is home to two major renaissance fairs. The Northern California Renaissance Fair will take place on the weekends between September 17th to October 16th. It will feature over 200 artisan booths, a Celtic rock concert series, and nine stages hosting actors, musicians, and more. Watch the trailer here. The San Jose Renaissance Fair will take place August 6-7th, featuring 800 costumed performers, three stages, music, dancing, jesters, battles, storytelling, archery, over 100 merchants, plenty of food and drink, and more.

Visit the California Shakespeare Theater

The California Shakespeare Theater is located in Berkeley, CA. It thrives with this mission: ‘With Shakespeare’s depth of humanity as our touchstone, we build character and community through authentic, inclusive, and joyful theater experiences.’ Come visit and see one of the plays they have on tap this season or attend one of the theater’s special events. There are also a variety of educational experiences to participate in put on by CalShakes, including workshops, residencies, conservatories, matinees, and internships.

California Shakespeare Theater, 701 Heinz Ave, Berkeley, CA, USA, +1 510 548 9666