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Seasonal Guide To Free Music Festivals In San Francisco
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Seasonal Guide To Free Music Festivals In San Francisco

Picture of Brie Shimada
Updated: 11 December 2015
San Francisco not only offers the best of food, fashion, art, and culture but also music. Many people are unaware of the numerous free music festivals the city hosts throughout the year. Lucky for you, we’ve created a guide to help you navigate through each season so that you don’t miss any of these marvelous jubilees! Check out our guide for annual music festivals that won’t cost you a single dime.
Stern Grove Festival | © kennejima/Flickr
Stern Grove Festival | © kennejima/Flickr

Stern Grove Music Festival

The annual Stern Grove Festival recently celebrated their 78th season of summer concerts, which are free of charge for all Bay Area residents and visitors. The Stern Grove was purchased in 1931 by Rosalie M. Stern who gave the Stern Grove as a gift to the city of San Francisco in honor of her husband Sigmund. In 1938, Stern created the nonprofit Stern Grove Festival Association that hosts musical performances consisting of diverse genres and seasoned artists. Next year’s festival will be taking place from June 19 through August 22, 2016. The Stern Grove has brought over seven decades of admission-free performances to the city and remains one of Northern California’s favorite concert sites.

Fillmore Jazz Festival | © Yolanda Cotton-Turner
Fillmore Jazz Festival | © Yolanda Cotton-Turner

Fillmore Jazz Festival

The Fillmore Jazz Festival blends art, music, and soul into the largest free jazz festival on the West Coast in San Francisco’s very own neighborhood, the Fillmore. Visitors are welcome to groove through 12 blocks of festivities, including fine art and crafts, gourmet soul food, and traditional and new school jazz bands. The festival takes places from 10am-6pm over the Fourth of July weekend between Jackson and Eddy Street and draws more than 100,000 visitors each year. Don’t miss out on one of the most historical and cultural music festivals our country has to offer!

Yerba Buena Gardens Festival

The Yerba Buena Gardens Festival brings the sounds of classical, jazz, and world music to the cultural landscape of San Francisco with free concerts, dance and theatre performances every year from the end of April through October. Come one and come all as the event has no ticket system, designated seating, or RSVP list. The majority of the seating is open lawn, so we recommend you bring a blanket or low lawn chairs to enjoy these performances. The Yerba Buena Garden Festival hosts concerts throughout the day and evening, so there are many opportunities for you to attend a performance. Check out their event calendar online to see what the final month of the festival has in store for you!

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival | © Tom Bennett/Flickr
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival | © Tom Bennett/Flickr

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival

The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival is one of the most anticipated music festivals in the USA and features over 100 musical artists on seven stages in the heart of Golden Gate Park. The festival was founded by Warren Hellman who held the first event in 2001, which drew over 750,000 people over the course of the three-day festival. Hellman passed away in 2011, but the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival continues to live on in his memory. This iconic festival takes place this weekend from Friday, October 2nd (10:30-7pm) through Sunday, October 4th (same hours as Saturday, 11-7pm). The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival is a gift to the world of music and should be enjoyed by everyone at least once in their lifetime! Don’t miss out on this incredible experience.

By Brie Shimada

Brie Shimada, a Sacramento native, is currently studying Communication Studies at San Francisco State University. She can either be found capturing photos of the city, reading a good book at Blue Bottle, or shopping local at one of the many farmer’s markets in San Francisco.