July arts, music and events calendar

We have arts and music events all over the BART map this month — Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, Fremont, West Dublin and Orinda! Visit one of the Bay Area’s world class museums for some great summer exhibitions, or see classic stories brought to life on stage at some local theaters. Maybe dancing or bike riding is more of your thing . . . there are events for that too! Here are some great July activities to put on your calendar, just an easy walk or shuttle ride from BART.

SF Ethnic Dance Festival

Photo courtesy of SF Ethnic Dance Festival.

San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival (July 6-22) at Civic Center/UN Plaza

The San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival brings together world dance artists to broaden appreciation of world dance and music forms in the Bay Area.

Opening day starts on July 6 with a free Rotunda Dance Series performance at SF City Hall, which will include dance, music and spoken word. The festival will then continue July 14-15 and July 21-22 at the War Memorial Opera House with 21 various dance and music ensembles. Attendees can expect Afro-Cuban, Tahitian, South Indian, Liberian and Korean performances, among others.

World Arts West has put on the festival annually the past 40 years and has a vision to work with artists, organizations and communities to advance cultural understanding and achieve support of the world’s diverse dance traditions.

Tickets range from $25-$45 and can be purchased online. Take BART to Civic Center/UN Plaza and walk 6 minutes to San Francisco City Hall, or 9 minutes to the War Memorial Opera House.

Quixote Nuevo (Ends July 7) at Orinda

Visit California Shakespeare Theater and take a journey to the fictional modern-day border town of La Mancha, Texas, where Don Quixote embarks on chivalrous escapades and a quest of imagination, adventure and Tejano music. Celebrated Latino playwright Octavio Solis has created this new version of Don Quixote, which will be played by Sesame Street’s Emilio Delgado. Tickets range from $20-$62 and can be purchased online. Take BART to Orinda and catch the free shuttle to the Cal Shakes amphitheater.

Fremont Fourth of July

Photo courtesy of Fremont 4th of July Parade's website.

Fremont 4th of July Parade at Fremont

It’s the Fremont 4th of July Parade’s 20th anniversary, and this year’s theme is “Journey Across America.” There will be a national anthem singer, parade Grand Marshal and parade judges to give awards for Overall Appeal, Creativity/Uniqueness, Parade Themes, Patriotic and People’s Choice. The parade kickoff is at 10am. Take BART to Fremont and walk 12 minutes to the Fremont library, where the parade begins.

Oakland Art Murmur (OAM) is a nonprofit that has connected thousands of artists to over a million visitors through its various local programs. Two of its most famous programs are the “First Friday Art Walk” and “Saturday Stroll.” First Friday Art Walks are held every first Friday of the month, so in July it will fall on July 6. OAM Galleries across Oakland are open from 6 to 9pm, rain or shine. For Saturday Stroll, OAM member galleries are collectively open from 1 to 5pm every Saturday. During Saturday Stroll many galleries hold artists talks, receptions, film screenings and more. You can find OAM’s list of venues here. Admission to both events are free.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (July 7-Aug. 5) at 16th St. Mission

Bay Area Musicals is presenting the classic story of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, written by Victor Hugo and also popularized by the Disney animated film. The musical was written from the Academy and Tony-award winning writers of “Wicked,” “Aladdin” and “Beauty and the Beast.” It will feature songs from the Disney film, including the score that was nominated for an Academy award. Tickets can be bought online. Take BART to 16th St. Mission and walk 1 minute to Victoria Theatre.

Photo courtesy of Bill Pickett Rodeo's website.

Bill Pickett Rodeo (July 14-15) at West Dublin

The Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo (BPIR) isn’t your typical rodeo — it specifically celebrates and honors black cowboys and cowgirls and their contributions to building the west. BPIR hopes to share stories about the black western subculture and also serve as a cultural event and opportunity for families to enjoy and embrace cowboy culture. Some events to look forward to are bare back riding, bull riding, calf roping and more. Tickets range from $18-$30 and can be bought online. Take BART to West Dublin and take a shuttle to Rowell Ranch Rodeo.

Richard III (July 14-29) at Civic Center/UN Plaza

One of Shakespeare’s most fascinating and complex anti-heroes comes to life in “Richard III.” Richard is a character who has his eyes on the crown — and his path to glory is marked by seduction, murder and betrayal. African-American Shakespeare Company Artistic Director L. Peter Callender stars as the unapologetic king you love to hate. Performances will run on Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased online. A discount code for BARTable followers can be found here. Take BART to Civic Center/UN Plaza and walk 9 minutes to the Taube Atrium Theater.

Sunday Streets Mission at 16th St or 24th St. Mission

Sunday Streets transforms one to four miles of normally congested streets into car-free spaces where kids can play and adults can stroll and mingle. There are often activities for visitors to do as well. On July 15 there will be Sunday Streets in the Mission from Duboce Ave. to 26th St. and Valencia St. Visitors and residents have a chance to roll, walk or pedal to local institutions like The Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, Puerto Alegre and Dog Eared Books.


The event runs from 11am to 4pm and admission is free. For Sunday Streets Mission, ride BART to 16th St. Mission or 24th St. Mission and walk one block from the Sunday Street route on Valencia Street.

“Everybody” explores one of the most universal of truths: when Everybody faces imminent death, which companion — Beauty, Friendship, Stuff or Love — will make it to the final destination? Each night’s cast of actors will be decided by lottery, letting fate guide the journey as they play out a new riff on an ancient morality tale. Written by Branden Jacobs-Jenkin, described by The New York Times as “one of this country’s most illuminating writers.” Tickets range from $20-$60 and can be bought online. Take BART to Orinda and catch the free shuttle to the Cal Shakes amphitheater.

Photo courtesy of Pedalfest's website.

Pedalfest (July 28) at 12th St./Oakland City Center

Bike culture is alive and well in the Bay Area, and that means there are events like Pedalfest to look forward to. The event is presented by Bay Area Bicycle Law and Drake’s Brewing Co. It will be a day featuring bicycle shenanigans like an amphibious bike race and daredevil stunts. The first 1,000 RSVPs get a free Ben & Jerry Ice cream — RSVP here. Admission is free. Take BART to 12th St./Oakland City Center and walk 18 minutes to Jack London Square.

Soft Power at Curran Theatre.

Photo courtesy of Curran Theater.

Soft Power (Ends July 8) at Powell Street

"Soft Power" is a first-time collaboration between Tony Award winners David Henry Hwang ("M. Butterfly") and Jeanine Tesori ("Fun Home"). It is an East-meets-West musical based on the story of a Chinese executive in America, circa 2016, who falls in love with a U.S. leader. Their romance starts to shift the power balance between the two countries, with a potential new order in the future. The piece is inspired by inauthentic portrayals of Asia that are often put forth by the West, and is what the LA Times describes as "smart, splashy and wonderfully funny." Go see what The Hollywood Reporter calls “the most creatively ambitious new musical of the year!” and what Entertainment Weekly says is a "form-busting examination of the American dream." Tickets range from $29-$165 and can be bought online. Take BART to Powell Street and walk 8 minutes to the Curran Theater.

The Contemporary Jewish Museum exhibitions (Ends July 8, 29) at Powell Street

The Contemporary Jewish Museum hopes to show the diversity of the Jewish experience to a modern audience through exhibitions and educational programs. Some of its current exhibitions are:

  • "Kutiman: Offgrid Online" runs through July 8. It focuses on Kutiman, a young Israeli musician and composer, who utilizes audio and video from the web to focus on themes of assemblage, cut-up literary technique, appropriation and found art into the realm of music and sound composition.
  • "The Art of Rube Goldberg" also runs through July 8. It explores the career of the celebrated cartoonist and is the first retrospective exhibition of his work since 1970. Visitors can see never-before-exhibited original drawings, sketches, rare photographs, films, letters and memorabilia from his family archives.
  • "Contraption: Rediscovering California Jewish Artists" runs through July 29. It is a group show from 16 California-identified artists of Jewish descent that are both historical and living. From the living artists there will be large-scale mechanical installations, as well as ceramics, drawings, sculpture and paintings.

Tickets range from $5-$14. Admission is free for members and visitors age 18 and younger. There is also free admission on every first Tuesday of each month. Take BART to Powell Street and walk 6 minutes to the museum.

BAMPFA exhibitions at Downtown Berkeley

BAMPFA is UC Berkeley’s visual arts center, and its mission is to inspire the imagination and ignite critical dialogue through art and film, not just amongst audiences from the UC Berkeley campus but the Bay Area and beyond. These are some of its exhibitions in July:

  • “Art Wall: Karabo Poppy Moletsane” runs through July 15. Karabo Poppy Moletsane is a street artist and designer from Johannesburg, South Africa. She is known for her strikingly vibrant style inspired by diverse sources, ranging from traditional African patterns to science fiction. Her commissioned art wall presentation for BAMPFA is based on portraits of people she met on the streets of Johannesburg and Pretoria.
  • “Master Traces, Transcultural Visions” runs through Sept. 16 and is an exhibition that examines how Buddhist power was virtually expressed and transmitted throughout Asia. It features works from South, Southeast and East Asia as well as the Himalayas dating from the second through the twentieth centuries.
  • “Alicia McCarthy and Ruby Neri / MATRIX 270” runs through Aug. 26. It convenes two artists who have had a strong collaboration over the last several decades, starting when they were students at the San Francisco Art Institute. For MATRIX 270, Neri puts forth ceramic sculptures that upend how the female nude is traditionally represented, and McCarthy contributes a new group of her paintings that explore motifs such as grid weavings, double rainbows and colored bars.

Tickets range from $11-$13, and admission for all is free on the first Thursday of each month. Admission is always free for BAMPFA members, UC Berkeley students, faculty and staff, and anyone 18 and under. Take BART to Downtown Berkeley and walk 3 minutes to the museum.

Dry Powder (Ends July 22) at Downtown Berkeley

Does a play centered around the topic of high finance have you intrigued? If so, “Dry Powder” may be the show you need to see. After his private equity firm forced job cuts at a national retailer, Rick is facing some harsh backlash. He must decide between two very different solutions  — one from his Managing Director that’s more ideal, or one from a firm partner that is more controversial. “Dry Powder” — which Time Out New York calls “...lacerating...nuanced...extraordinarily timely” — is celebrating its Bay Area premiere at Aurora Theatre. Tickets are $38 and can be purchased online. Take BART to Downtown Berkeley and walk 2 minutes to the theater.

Photo courtesy of Visit Concord.

Music & Market Series (Ends September) at Concord

The Music & Market Series is celebrating its 30th year in Concord, and it’s a great way to enjoy the city’s farmers’ market along with free concerts. Head to Todos Santos Plaza on Thursday nights from 6:30 to 8pm until Sept. 13 to enjoy a lineup of local musicians playing Salsa, jazz, zydeco, blues and more. Admission is free. Take BART to Concord and walk 8 minutes to Todos Santos Plaza.

Pete the Cat (Every weekend in July) at Downtown Berkeley

The Bay Area Children’s Theatre presents Pete the Cat, a hilarious romp based on the books by James and Kimberly Dean. This musical adventure invites the audience to jam out with Pete, his band and his buddies. Family-friendly and purr-fect for ages 3 to 8. It’s rated one of the best shows for kids this summer by Bay Area Parent, so treat your young ones and take them to this show! Tickets range from $24-$28. Take BART to Downtown Berkeley and walk 2 minutes to the BACT Berkeley Center, The Osher Studio.

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