SF’s Best Events

By Damon Lewis

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There are many annual San Francisco events that make living in The City actually worth the cost. San Francisco is steeped in interesting history, and as a frontier gold town, public debauchery and the celebration of it are basically a city mantra. These roots of entertainment-seeking behavior could very well be the reason why every year there are so many uniquely San Francisco events that happen. Some may ask the question; what exactly makes for a purely San Francisco event? And the answer to that question is not at all cut and dried. The truth is, of the many San Francisco events that happen throughout the year, each is a unique occurrence all it’s own. But every year you find that in San Francisco, events are the blood that pumps throughout the heart of the city. The first San Francisco event that usually comes into the city is the annual MacWorld conference, held at the Moscone Center in the South of Market district in February. MacWorld is the “premier marketplace for companies that sell, market or promote products, services or solutions for the Mac OS platform.” This annual San Francisco event draws nearly 40,000 people to a 100,000 square foot exposition with upwards of 400 vendors that allows Mac users to test and evaluate all of the year’s upcoming Mac products. There is usually a keynote speaker every year, sometimes headlining none other than Steve Jobs, creator and Chief Executive Officer of Macintosh computers. For Mac users all across the West Coast, this is one San Francisco event that cannot be missed. Also in early February is potentially one of the more elaborate of San Francisco events that exists; Chinese New Year. This celebration consists of two separate celebrations; The Chinese New Year Flower Fair and the Chinatown Community Street Fair. People of all heritages line the streets for this San Francisco event that started in the 1860’s during the gold rush era and continues into today. This San Francisco event is the largest Asian event in North America and one of the Worlds top ten parades. The parade consists of floats, lots of firecrackers, bands, acrobats, martial artists and golden dragon as the grand finale. This is one of the San Francisco events that qualifies as a “must see” experience. As the spring begins to make ground against the wet winter months, there is one San Francisco event that is quite the “Only in San Francisco” type of occurrence. Every year in May, the annual foot race Bay to Breakers is the San Francisco event to be a part of. The race begins in downtown San Francisco near the waterfront on Embarcadero Street and finishes on The Great Highway at the Pacific Ocean; hence the name “Bay to Breakers.” This San Francisco event was started in 1912 and comprises roughly seven and a half miles across the northern peninsula. In the past, it has been a celebration of drunkenness and nudity, with floats ranging from enormous scenes of orgies to the shopping carts filled with kegs of beer. The race draws more spectators than participants, and the debauchery has been toned down considerably in the last year or so. However, this still remains as one of the quintessential San Francisco events. As summer makes its way to The Bay Area, the smell of fresh cut grass brings to mind that baseball season is in full swing. And with the onset of baseball season in June is the commencement of Inter-league play between the American League and National League Divisions. This is not only a San Francisco event, but a Bay Area event also as the Oakland Athletics meet the San Francisco Giants every year for the Bay Bridge Series. Since these teams alternate between playing in San Francisco and Oakland, it is not purely a San Francisco event. But everyone from the East Bay to The Avenues knows when the Giants and the A’s are playing, and this rivalry is generally a friendly meeting between two teams with mutual respect. Definitely a San Francisco event the whole family can enjoy. Also in June is the World-famous Haight-Ashbury Street Fair, which was started in 1978 as a daylong community celebration of peace, love and happiness. The Haight-Ashbury Street Fair is one of the San Francisco events that celebrate the particular culture and heritage of one of its best-known neighborhoods, whose ideals were founded on the “hippie” movement of the late 1960’s. This is a non-profit event meant to showcase up and coming artists on its two stages spanning from Masonic Avenue to Stanyan Street. In the past, such up and coming San Francisco bands such as Jefferson Airplane and Metallica have played the Fair making this San Francisco event that must be seen at least once while living in The City. Recently, The Outsidelands Music Festival has stolen the show of all of the San Francisco events, with headlining artists generally considered the best in the business. The festival spans across Golden Gate Park, once known as the “outside lands” due to its expansive desert environment on the outskirts of San Francisco, with stages at Polo Fields, Speedway Meadows and Lindley Meadow. The festival showcases all genre of music and generally draws over sixty bands for the three-day celebration. This San Francisco event is also setting the stage internationally for carbon-neutral festivities, as well as for amenities that accompany a festival of this stature. Accompanying the music is also a vending area where patrons can purchase local wines and organic sustainable food, making this yet another premier San Francisco event. Although there are many, many San Francisco events I have not mentioned; there is just not enough room to actually pen the hundreds and hundreds of great gatherings that take place in San Francisco. San Francisco events such as The Folsom Street Fair, Love Fest, The San Francisco Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender Pride Celebration, Fleet Week, The Fillmore Jazz Fest, The San Francisco International Film Festival, The San Francisco AIDS Walk, and The Macy’s Union Square Tree Lighting Ceremony are just a few of the higher profile events that take place annually here in The City. There is always something happening somewhere in San Francisco if one knows where to look; and luckily one must not look far to find some kind of fun San Francisco event happening every month. It seems that the longer you live in San Francisco and the more you attend these uniquely San Francisco events, the less you are shocked by anything you see in the movies or on television. In San Francisco, events certainly prove the rule that occasionally art does imitate life. And in San Francisco there is no better way to see this than by attending any of the great annual San Francisco events.