The San Francisco Bay Area boasts a stellar array of annual music festivals and concert series, and the list keeps getting longer with new festivals joining the lineup.
New on the scene this fall is the Portola Music Festival in San Francisco and Breakaway California in Oakland. These join heavyweights such as the acclaimed Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park and BottleRock Napa Valley.
Incredibly, many of San Francisco’s music festivals and concert series are free – including the Stern Grove Festival, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass and the Fillmore Jazz Festival. San Francisco Opera and San Francisco Symphony’s only free performances take place at outdoor concerts during the summer.
To help plan lyrical getaways this summer and fall and in 2023, San Francisco Travel has curated a list of music festivals and concert series in the Bay Area.
SUMMER – FALL 2022
Yerba Buena Gardens Festival, through October 2022.
With over 100 free outdoor concerts as well as theatre, circus shows, dance, poetry and kids’ programs, the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival has a unique place in the cultural landscape of San Francisco. Outdoor concerts range from the world premiere of the Marcus Shelby New Orchestra’s Blues in the City (Sept. 3, 2022) to lunchtime performances each Thursday. The annual festival runs from May through October.
Golden Gate Park Bandshell Concerts, through November 2022
Built 122 years ago, the Golden Gate Bandshell features free outdoor performances in Golden Gate Park from March through November. More than 100 free shows are taking place in the park’s Music Concourse this year. The lineup of performers is diverse and local, with occasional international flourishes. The season includes rock bands and singer/songwriters, R&B, soul, jazz, big band musicians, reggae, string ensembles and dancers, and many homegrown stars.
Stern Grove Festival, 12 June – 14 August, each Sunday
One of the nation’s oldest running music festivals, Stern Grove is celebrating its 85th summer concert season this year with acts including Toro Y Moi, LeAnn Rimes, Cold War Kids, Cat Power, Old Crow Medicine Show, Taj Mahal and the San Francisco Symphony. The beloved free San Francisco festival features different bands each Sunday during its 10-week run at the Sigmund Stern Recreation Grove, a historic park and concert meadow in the city’s Sunset District. Grateful Dead founding member Phil Lesh will help close out the concert series on Aug.14. Lesh’s set at Stern Grove marks the first time in 50+ years that a member of the Grateful Dead has played a free concert in San Francisco. Although admission is free to the shows, fans must first RSVP in advance to reserve their spot. At 2 p.m. PT precisely 12 days before each event, an online portal through www.sterngrove.org opens to offer free passes on a first-come, first-served basis.
“People in Plazas” Market Street Music Festival, through September
Each year from July through September, the “People in Plazas” free summer music festival produces more than 130 concerts in 15 different venues on or near Market Street from the Embarcadero to Fourth Street. The lunchtime concert series features a variety of genres and local musicians.
Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival, 5-7 Aug
One of the top music festivals in the U.S, Outside Lands boasts a world-class lineup of the hottest music on seven stages as well as cutting-edge food, beverage and cannabis programming. Over three days in Golden Gate Park this August, headliners include Bay Area pop-punk dynamo Green Day, rapper, singer, and songwriter Post Malone and recent GRAMMY winner SZA. The lineup is dynamic and diverse, with a mix of genres and artists from all over the world. Household names like Weezer, Jack Harlow, Phoebe Bridgers, Illenium, Lil Uzi Vert, Kali Uchis, Disclosure, Mitski and more will be joined by some of the best new talent as well as fan favourites, including Anitta and Polo & Pan. Over 90 artists are scheduled to perform. This year the festival also has a record 91 restaurants participating in its Taste of the Bay Area program, 35 wineries and 30 breweries at Wine Lands and Beer Lands, cannabis products at its Grass Lands, and an ultimate luxury festival experience via its Golden Gate Club.
Petaluma Music Festival, 6 Aug
The 15th annual Petaluma Music Festival at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds features 14 bands on four stages, including nationally recognized artists. The lineup includes Jackie Green, Anders Osborne and Dustbowl Revival.
Jerry Day, 13 Aug
Jerry Day is a civic and cultural event that celebrates one of the greatest rock guitarists of all time and San Francisco native son – Jerry Garcia, the leader of the Grateful Dead and a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This year’s Jerry Day concert at the Jerry Garcia Amphitheatre in McLaren Park celebrates its 20th anniversary. Special guests at the free concert include Melvin Seals and JGB and Stu Allen and Mars Hotel. Visit https://www.jerryday.org for more information.
Due South, 27 Aug, 17 Sept and 8 Oct
Due South, a returning free concert series by Noise Pop and the SF Parks Alliance, takes place at the Jerry Garcia Amphitheatre in McLaren Park. It launches 27 Aug with headliner Deafheaven, a San Francisco rock band. Oakland’s Marbled Eye will open. Indie Thao, formerly of Thao & Get Down Stay Down, plays 17 Sept, with Bay Area rapper Ruby Ibarra as the first act. The series’ final concert takes place on 8 Oct and features Latin rock legends Ozomatli alongside Oakland cumbia group La Misa Negra. Each show is free, but reserved seating can be secured by purchasing an SFPA membership.
San Francisco Opera in the Park, 11 Sept
As part of its centennial season, San Francisco Opera returns on its opening weekend to the Robin Williams Meadow in Golden Gate Park. Music Director Eun Sun Kim conducts the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and soloists in this free al fresco concert on 11 Sept.
Portola Music Festival, 25-25 Sept
The inaugural Portola Music Festival in September at San Francisco’s Pier 80 brings together new, buzzing electronic artists, metaverse pop stars, and legendary names all over the same weekend, including Flume, Kaytranada, Jamie xx, The Chemical Brothers, James Blake, and Lane 8. The festival’s namesake is an ode to the Portola Festival of 1909, which was a celebration of the re-opening of San Francisco three years after the earthquake of 1906 decimated the city. It was set up to publicize to the world that San Francisco was back open and ready to host tourists. It’s presented by Goldenvoice, creators of Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival and Stagecoach: California’s Country Music Festival.
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, 30 Sept – 2 Oct
This free celebration of music in the park includes a who’s who of top entertainers in the heart of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. The festival features a lineup of country, soul, folk and more performing across stages. As yet, the 2022 line-up has not been announced.
Sonoma Harvest Music Festival, 8-9 Oct
After a two-year hiatus, the intimate Sonoma Harvest Music Festival is back in October on the grounds of the historic B.R. Cohn Winery in Glen Ellen, Sonoma County. Produced by BottleRock Presents, the lineup includes headliners Gary Clark Jr. and Portugal. The Man as well as Thievery Corporation, Anderson East, MAGIC GIANT and Lily Meola, be Phantogram, K.Flay, The Wrecks and Yoke Lore.
Halloween Meltdown, 8-9 Oct
The Halloween Meltdown festival returns to Oakland’s Mosswood Park for its second year, featuring more than a dozen underground and punk rock acts with John Waters as host. It’s billed as a costume extravaganza, and performers include Amyl & the Sniffers, Shannon & the Clams, Fuzz, Sheer Mag, the Spits, and Lydia Lunch. Find more details on ticketing at http://halloweenmeltdown.net/.
InterMusic’s SF Music Day, 9 Oct
SF Music Day was founded fourteen years ago to celebrate the Bay Area music community and to encourage local audiences to explore and savor the region’s diverse range of music. This year, a second SF Music Day was added to the roster following a successful spring event. The free daylong festival will present dozens of ensembles performing a staggering array of repertoire, from Baroque and classical works to contemporary compositions. The music festival takes over four stages of the War Memorial Veterans Building in Civic Center.
Breakaway California, 14-15 Oct
Prime Social Group is partnering with Another Planet to host their fifth event in the multi-city, genre-blending Breakaway Music Festival with Breakaway California. Set October 14 and 15 at Oakland Arena Grounds in Oakland, the west coast Breakaway will feature live music from Gryffin, Louis The Child, Big Wild, Said The Sky, Tycho and more. This is the first Breakaway California festival and features diverse programming from pop to electronic.
Most of the festivals and concert series listed above are slated to reoccur in 2023, along with the following annual events:
Noise Pop Music & Arts Festival, February
From its humble beginnings—one night, five bands at The Kennel Club (now The Independent) in 1993—to the present: one week, 160+ bands, 80+ events, 25+ venues—the Noise Pop Music & Arts Festival has become a San Francisco staple. Featuring non-stop music from electronic to jazz to good ol’ rock n’ roll, the festival offers an opportunity for everyone and anyone to enjoy the celebration. A champion of independent culture, it’s complemented by art shows, film scores, talks, happy hours, after hours and more.
BottleRock Napa Valley, 26-28 May
The three-day BottleRock Napa Valley features the world’s top musicians on six music stages and the BottleRock Culinary Stage showcasing one-of-a-kind culinary and celebrity mashups. Master Sommeliers, celebrity chefs and dozens of the region’s finest vintners, restaurateurs and brewers rub shoulders with guests. In 2022, the festival featured over 75 music acts, including Metallica, P!nk, Twenty One Pilots and Luke Combs.
Mill Valley Music Festival, Mid-May
The Mill Valley Music Festival returns in May 2023 following its launch in 2022. The one-day music, arts and culture event is presented by the Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce and Noise Pop Industries and features a multi-genre mix of diverse national acts and local lights.
San Francisco Jazz Festival, June
For more than 30 years, SFJAZZ presented the San Francisco Jazz Festival in venues around the Bay Area. With the opening of the SFJAZZ Center in 2013, the festival is now concentrated in the Center and the surrounding neighbourhood and offers more than 40 shows over 12 days. For more information, visit www.sfjazz.org.
Phono Del Sol, June (San Francisco)
After a one-year hiatus, Phone Del Sol returned to Potrero del Sol Park in 2022. The free one-day festival hosts nationally renowned bands and local acts on its outdoor stages. For next year’s event, follow updates at https://www.phonodelsol.com/.
San Francisco Fillmore Jazz Festival, July (San Francisco)
Slated to return in 2023, the Fillmore Jazz Festival is the largest free jazz festival on the West Coast, typically drawing over 100,000 visitors over the Independence Day weekend. From sunup to sundown, visitors can groove to the sounds of live music from multiple stages, browse the offerings of over 12 blocks of fine art and crafts and enjoy gourmet food and beverages.
Mosswood Meltdown, July
Mosswood Meltdown returned in 2022 with Bikini Kill and more than 15 other acts at Oakland’s Mosswood Park. Other than a two-year pandemic hiatus, the outdoor punk celebration (previously called Burger Boogaloo) has taken place since 2009.