The last weekend of May brings one of the most anticipated weekends in the Bay Area. Not only is Memorial Day a time to remember and celebrate the lives of those who died in service to our country, but it’s also widely considered the first weekend of summer festivities, and the first acceptable weekend to wear white pants (if you believe in that sort of thing).
While you are paying your respects and enjoying that extra day off of work or school, take the opportunity to get outside and experience all that the Bay Area has to offer. There are plenty of festivals worth celebrating over the weekend, including the popular San Francisco Memorial Day Parade. Read on for details!
May 25 – 29, various times
Fiesta Days in nearby Vacaville is just what the name would suggest — an opportunity to celebrate life and the beginning of summer. Vacaville residents certainly take this party seriously (this year will mark the party’s 60th anniversary), but the festival has gained a reputation over the years and draws crowds from all over California. Expect a large parade, barbecues in Andrews Park, a beard-growing contest, costumes and camaraderie. Tickets are just $20 if purchased in advance, so hop to it!
May 26 – 28, various times
Venture south to Monterey to engage in one of the raddest music and art festivals on the coast. The California Roots Festival, inspired by a performance Jimi Hendrix gave on site in the 60s, delivers good vibes, good music and good feelings. Aside from a jaw-dropping musical lineup every year (2017 includes the Dirty Heads, Rebelution and NAS), guests can expect a lip sync battle, live painters on stage, and fantastic local vendors selling everything from food to knick-knacks.
May 26 – 29, Various times
This weekend welcomes the Bay Area’s longest-running science fiction convention, run completely by fans. If you love reading post-apocalyptic or out-of-this-world novels, viewing fan art, or simply have a broad imagination, this convention might be right up your alley. Guests of honor this year include Toastmaster Ty Franck, co-author of the New York Times bestselling Expanse series with Writer Guest of Honor Daniel Abraham, as well as Daniel Dociu, an award-winning fantasy artist. Check out the website for more information and to reserve a spot.
May 27, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
We don’t know about you, but just the name of this festival piques our interest. Essentially, it’s just what it sounds like — a large gathering of chefs, food trucks and taco-lovers celebrating everyone’s favorite Mexican street food. Enjoy your choice of taco from more than 25 Bay Area food trucks. All plates are $6 or less and include a selection of short rib tacos, nacho tacos, Vietnamese shrimp tacos, and even ice cream tacos. While you’re snacking, sip on flavorful craft beers, and engage in family-friendly games and performances.
May 27, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
This annual festival in downtown Felton has grown every year since its inception, and now includes a large parade, a great lineup of live music from local artists, fantastic food (hot dogs, BBQ and watermelon, oh my), local wines and beers, jump houses, vendor booths, and family-friendly games. If you live in the area, you already know it’s a big deal.
May 27, 1 – 2.30 p.m.
After lunch with the family, maybe head over to the beautiful Yerba Buena Gardens for an outdoor musical experience. While the festival will continue through the summer, Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend will welcome jazz artist and Bay Area treasure, Richard Howell & Sudden Changes. Howell has performed across the nation to raving reviews and is sure to put on a show in his home state.
May 27, noon – 9 p.m.
The annual Eastlake Music Festival is a completely free festival welcoming fans of all ages and backgrounds. EMF’s fourth year is expected to draw larger crowds than ever to enjoy a sampling of local music, dance, indir arts and crafts, local beers, and food trucks.
May 28, 1 – 2:30 p.m.
This free, patriotic concert is the perfect excuse to spend an afternoon lounging in Golden Gate Park on a Sunday (as if you needed an excuse). While the performer for the afternoon is yet to be named, you can expect a spectacular guest performer putting on a show that is truly American.
May 27 – 28, various times
Carnaval is highly anticipated year-round, but the time has finally come for this topsy-turvy event. The two-day festival includes a colorful lineup of global cuisine, international music and dance, street performers, art, and a grand parade with beautifully adorned, multicultural floats and performers.
May 27 – 28, various times
This free, family-friendly festival in Morgan Hill features arts and crafts, gourmet food, chef demonstrations, live entertainment, wine and beer gardens, and games for the kids — essentially, all of the makings of a great party. The only thing that differs is that the Mushroom Mardi Gras festival will also feature educational exhibits on everyone’s favorite fungus. Cool, right?
May 28 – 29, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
This unique celebration in San Ramon takes to the skies, literally, with extravagant kites in all shapes, sizes and colors. Watch national kite-flying champions face off in professional kite-flying demonstrations, including impressive tricks. While this will be the main attraction, attendees can also enjoy local vendor booths and hang gliding.
May 28, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
The Presidio Sunday Picnic brings together the best of the Bay Area’s food trucks, serving a range of cuisines from tacos to lobster rolls and international grub. But you can also take part in yoga classes, lawn games, bike riding lessons for the kids, arts and crafts, and a photo booth. While the picnic occurs every Sunday, the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend seems a particularly appropriate time to lay down a blanket and enjoy the day.
May 29, 10:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.
This commemoration event, established in 1868 on our nation’s first Memorial Day, is the largest of its kind on the west coast. It invites guests from near and far to come pay their respect to our fallen soldiers and informs the public of the remarkable sacrifice made by veterans and their families. The Grand March with Veterans will begin at 10:30 a.m. and will precede a formal ceremony, a gun salute, and a community picnic.
What is your favorite Memorial Day tradition? And how will you be celebrating this year? Let us know in the comments!