San Francisco Travel Guide


If you like partying and dress-ups, San Francisco could be just the ticket. Chinese New Year (late January/early February) is celebrated in Chinatown with colour and verve similar to Chinese centres in Asia. In late April, Cherry Blossom Festival is celebrated in Japantown with martial arts demos, tea ceremonies and other Japanese events. Also in April is San Francisco's International Film Festival, the oldest in the USA. On the third Sunday in May, over 100,000 joggers take part in the Bay to Breakers run, many of them in silly costume (and sometimes in nothing at all).

June is a celebratory month for San Francisco's gay community, with a film festival and Gay Pride Week leading up to the last Sunday in June, when the outrageous Gay Freedom Day Parade is held. The evening before the parade is the Dyke March and the Pink Saturday party on Castro St, attended by up to half a million people. Carnival is celebrated in the Mission District over Memorial Day weekend in May.

Stern Grove, a woodsy park in the Sunset District, teems with music lovers on weekends during its free June-through-August concert series. Cable car drivers compete to be the loudest or most tuneful in the late June/early July Cable Car Bell-Ringing Championship. September is chock full of festivals: there's free Opera in the Park, free Shakespeare performances, a blues festival and the Folsom St Fair, the sexiest S&M street fair in the city. San Francisco really turns it on for Halloween (31 October): this may be the most crazed night of the year, with hundreds of thousands of costumed revellers taking to the streets, particularly Castro St.

third Monday in Feb - Presidents' Day
last Monday in May - Memorial Day
third Monday in Jan - Martin Luther King Jnr Day
11 Nov - Veterans Day
4 Jul - Independence Day
second Monday in Oct - Columbus Day
25 Dec - Christmas Day
fourth Thursday in Nov - Thanksgiving
first Monday in Sep - Labour Day
1 Jan - New Year's Day
Mar/Apr - Easter

When to Go

Pick a month of the year and there's always a festival or street party on somewhere in San Fran. Unless a bit of fog or a brisk morning perturbs you, you can't go too wrong visiting the city. The best months to come are either side of the summer peak season, with the September to November period being particularly festive.

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