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San Francisco Street Fairs

A Guide for Free Summer Fun

If you’re on the lookout for fun, frugal summertime activities while the rest of the world waits for the economy to pick up, San Francisco is home to a variety of free outdoor street fairs. From the leather-loving Folsom Street Fair to the people-watching extravaganza at the Haight Ashbury Street Fair, these free parties are sure to keep your weekends full of fun.

May 29-30th: San Francisco Carnaval
Take advantage of the long Memorial Day weekend and head to the Mission for San Francisco Carnaval 2010. Don’t miss the multi-cultural parade on Mission Street on May 30th, and take in the sights, sounds and taste of the street fair on Harrison Street.

June 5th-6th: Union Street Fair
This is the party to see and be seen for the Marina crowd. In addition to art, food and boutique booths, the Union Street Fair is making a commitment to green living with eco-friendly exhibitors, business and educational displays. Held annually on San Francisco’s chic and stylish Union Street, take a break from the street scene with one of the many food, drink and shopping distractions that surround the fair.

June 13th: Haight Ashbury Street Fair
As one of San Francisco’s most internationally recognized neighborhoods, the Haight-Ashbury Street Fair has a long history that draws a diverse crowd. Soak in the scene of hipsters, hippies, punks, tourists, and more. Now in its 30th year, the fair was first developed in part by famed San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk. Today it hosts dozens of food vendors, arts and crafts areas, two stages and plenty of opportunities for community groups and street merchants to interact.

June 19th-20th: North Beach Festival
Now in its 56th year, the North Beach Festival takes place on Washington Square. As one of SF’s oldest outdoor festivals, North Beach opens up its streets to festivalgoers for two days with a variety of arts and crafts booths, gourmet food stands, three stages and a variety of other activities.

June 26th-27th, Pride Weekend
The cornerstone of San Francisco outdoor parties, San Francisco Pride celebrates its 40th year in 2010. Catch the parade with more than 200 contingents, and 300 exhibitors and 19 stages and venues. The party continues all day at the Civic Center! With its theme “Forty and Fabulous,” Pride Weekend will welcomes a variety of artists, musicians (Lady Gaga performed in 2008!), and dance stages.

July 3rd-4th: Fillmore Jazz Festival
Held on Fillmore Street between Jackson Street and Eddy Street, Fillmore Jazz Festival organizers boast that this festival is the largest free jazz event on the West Coast. With a heavy emphasis on jazz, the lineup spans several genres on multiple stages. This year, the festival welcomes Lavay Smith, Bobbie Webb and the Smooth Blues Band, Spencer Day, and dozens more. Local favorites include Bayonics and Sila and the Afrofunk Experience.

August 7th-8th: Aloha Festival
San Francisco’s Aloha Festival pays tribute to the city’s Pacific Islander community with a two-day celebration. Held at the parade grounds by the San Francisco Presidio Main Post, the festival is an alcohol-free, family-friendly event with arts and crafts vendors, live music and dance, delicious island cuisine, games, and educational exhibits and workshops.

September 26th: Folsom Street Fair
Don’t let its innocent name fool you; there’s little to nothing innocent about this outdoor spectacle. Covering 13 city blocks with little to no shame, the Folsom Street Fair is a smorgasbord of leather and rubber fetish attire, covering (or uncovering, as the case may be) everything from naughty police outfits to itsy-bitsy leather jock straps.

October 1st-3rd:Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass reportedly attracted nearly 500,000 music fans to San Francisco’s gorgeous Golden Gate Park last year. Featuring more than 350 bands on six stages, this feel-good festival is the perfect place to hang out with a picnic basket, knock back a brew (or three), and bask in San Francisco’s legendary Indian summer.

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