San Francisco Ballet performs at Stern Grove Festival
San Francisco Ballet performs at Stern Grove Festival
Photo by James Bachleda via Flickr

San Francisco has great concert venues, amazing food, and a pretty temperate (although sometimes chilly) climate. Now that it is summer, it also offers great parks for relaxing. The downside is that San Francisco can be pretty pricey. For those looking to save some money while enjoying the Bay, the Stern Grove Festival is perfect.

Held at Sigmund Stern Grove, the festival is about to start its 79th season on Sunday, June 19. Over the years the festival has brought some big names to the outdoor amphitheater, including The Doobie Brothers, Andrew Bird, and Boz Scaggs. They also frequently include performances by the San Francisco Symphony and the San Francisco Ballet.

All summer long the concerts are admission-free and start at 2:00 pm on various Sundays. Most Sundays have a headliner and a local band opening. This year the festival starts with The Big Picnic, their fundraiser to continue admission-free concerts and outreach programs in the Bay Area. Even if someone did not buy a ticket for The Big Picnic party, they can still attend the concert. Stern Grove Festival is kicking off their season with Janelle Monáe and Midtown Social.

Check out their full schedule below:

June 19 – Janelle Monae (and Midtown Social)
June 26 – George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic (and Bayonics)
July 3 – Hieroglyphics (and Mix’d Ingrdnts and Golden State Breakers)
July 10 – San Francisco Symphony
July 17 – Joan Osborne’s Soul Revue (and John Brothers Piano Company)
July 24 – Julieta Venegas (and La Misa Negra)
July 31 – San Francisco Ballet
August 7 – The O’Jays (and MJ’s Brass Boppers)
August 14 – Atomic Bomb! The Music of William Onyeabor featuring Jamie Lidell, Luke Jenner, Money Mark, Sinkane, and more special guests (and Afrolicious)
August 21 – The New Pornographers (and Astronauts, etc.)

While the concert begins at 2:00 pm, admission is first-come first-served, and they begin allowing people to enter for hand stamps starting around 10:00 am. So, if you are interested in going, it is best to arrive early.

People planning to go should bring a blanket or low-backed chair to sit on for the performance since it is an open space. Attendees can also bring picnics and alcohol. Note that no alcohol will be sold at the festival.

Individuals are also encouraged to use public transportation or bike to the event. There is no parking at Sigmund Stern Grove, but there is valet bike parking available.

Sound like a fun, relaxing way to spend a Sunday afternoon? Check out the bands and choose a weekend to attend. Or better yet, attend them all!