September arts, music and events calendar

It’s already the last month of summer. (I know, what summer?).

Before the weather starts to turn, there are still plenty of events to enjoy — like dancing, outdoor music, watching theater in the woods, indulging in yummy food, admiring local art and more.

Festivals, block parties and other summer festivities are still around, so don’t cozy up at home too much just yet.

Maybe you always ride BART to San Francisco and Oakland — but now’s your chance to show some love to Berkeley, Millbrae, Concord, Lafayette, Walnut Creek and Orinda. Plan a new adventure, switch up your normal BART routes and explore new areas around the Bay.

Photo courtesy of Millbrae Art and Wine Festival’s website.

Millbrae Art and Wine Festival (Sept. 1-2) at Millbrae

Come over to Millbrae to partake in the “Last Blast of Summer.” The Millbrae Art and Wine Festival is celebrating its 48th year and will be offering Mardi Gras-style fun during Labor Day weekend. For food and drinks, there will be artisan specialty food, premium wine, the Hops Haven microbrew tasting tent and the Forty Creek Whisky sampling lounge. There will also be “Art Explosion,” a juried show with 250 professional artists and craft makers.

The music lineup includes 10 bands playing a mix of genres like 70s disco, hip-hop, 80s pop, 90s party hits and R&B. There is also a Kids’ Playland that will have a zipline, climbing wall, bungee jump and carnival rides. Hours are 10am to 5pm both days. Take BART to Millbrae and walk three blocks to the festival.

First Sundays (Sept. 2) at Civic Center/UN Plaza

The Civic Center Commons hosts weekend block parties on every first Sunday until Nov. 4. Visitors can enjoy food, recreational activities, an open-air bazaar and more. Off the Grid will curate a selection of street foods and Bonneville San Francisco KMVQ 99.7 FM will provide the tunes. The open-air bazaar will feature one-of-a-kind goods created by local SF Etsy artisans, and there will be an area for making DIY arts and crafts. On Sept. 2 there will be street soccer with prizes, a Friends of the SF Public Library book sale and a game of giant Scrabble. Admission is free. The event is from 11am to 3pm and will be located on Fulton Street between the Asian Art Museum and San Francisco Main Public Library. Take BART to Civic Center/UN Plaza and walk 5 minutes to the Fulton Street.

Photo courtesy of Walnut Creek Downtown’s Facebook page.

First Wednesday (Sept. 5) at Walnut Creek

This is the final First Wednesday event this year for Walnut Creek, and what better way to kick off the last month of summer than enjoying a street fest filled with live music, dancing, outdoor eats, wine and beer, art, shopping and a Kids Fun Zone for families? This year, First Wednesdays is partnering with the Contra Costa Certified Farmers Market to show a Chef’s Demo so visitors can stop by and enjoy some yummy recipes. Jesse Daniel will be providing the evening’s entertainment. Admission is free and the event runs from 5:30 to 8:30pm. Take BART to Walnut Creek and walk 13 minutes to Cypress Street.

Music & Market Series (Sept. 6 and 13) 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 Sept. 6 and 13 from 6:30 to 8pm to enjoy a lineup of local musicians playing salsa, jazz, zydeco, blues and more. The Sept. 6 show features the Lafayette Studio Big Band — a 17 piece Count Basie style jazz orchestra. On Sept. 13 you can catch Annie Sampson, Concord’s own Queen of Blues. Take BART to Concord and walk 8 minutes to Todos Santos Plaza.

Photo courtesy of Exit Theatre’s Facebook page.

SF Green Film Festival (Sept. 6-13)

This year mark’s Green Film Fest’s eighth year, and it returns with a week of new environmental films, discussions and special events that spark green ideas and connections. The festival comes in time to celebrate the Global Climate Action Summit (Sept. 12-14), which will bring global leaders together in San Francisco to support the Paris Climate Agreement. This year’s theme is elemental, based on water, fire, air and earth. Events will take place at venues across San Francisco, such as Castro Theatre, Cowell Theater at Fort Mason Center, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and Koret Auditorium at San Francisco Public Library. Check its website for further details.

Fringe Festival (Sept. 6-15) at Powell Street

Fringe festivals occur around the world, with the first starting in Edinburgh, Scotland 71 years ago. The festivals allow performers to debut new, experimental and challenging work, develop their reputations, hone their craft and tour the globe as independent artists. EXIT Theatre and 21 local and national theatre companies produce San Francisco’s Fringe Festival in the heart of the city’s theatre district. The festival is celebrating its 27th year in 2018; it’s the oldest grassroots theater festival in the Bay Area, and the second-oldest Fringe in the country. Solo performances, storytelling, comedy, drama, musicals and mind-reading will all be a part of this year’s Fringe. Tickets range from $45-$85 and can be bought online. Take BART to Powell Street and walk 3 minutes to EXIT Theatre.

Oakland Art Murmur (Sept. 7)

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 September it will fall on Sept. 7. 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.

SF Love Our City Day (Sept. 8)

Back in February 2013, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and the San Francisco Giants launched Giant Sweep, a citywide campaign to build a team of local schools, residents, businesses and community groups to come together and clean the city. On Sept. 8, participants can bring their own supplies or grab tools from Public Works and clean the area in their neighborhood, or join a neighborhood kickoff location. There will be designated sites for cleanup in every SF district. The event will be held from 9am to noon.

Pittsburg Seafood & Music Festival (Sept. 8-9) at Pittsburg

We all know the Bay has some great seafood to offer. To celebrate the area’s yummy treats from the ocean, Pittsburg throws an annual two-day seafood and music festival filled with nearly 200 booths sponsored by restaurants, civic organizations, school groups and churches. Head over to the Pittsburg Marina to enjoy ocean views, grub on some dishes like crawfish boils and BBQ oysters, listen to live music, compete in jet ski races and more. Hours each day are from 10am to 7pm. Tickets can be bought online. Take BART to Pittsburg Center and hop on a shuttle to the event.


Photo courtesy of Cal Shakes.

The War of the Roses (Ends Sept. 9) at Orinda

Come enjoy a Shakespeare-filled evening like no other by attending “The War of the Roses” at Cal Shakes. It will be a monumental theater experience, spanning four historical Shakespeare plays: The “Henry VI” trilogy and “Richard III.” The evening will be fast-paced and offer a vivid theatrical depiction of two powerful families as they battle for the English throne. Artistic Director Eric Ting notes, “At the heart of this production are a series of questions: What makes a tyrant? What combination of circumstances paves the way for tyranny? And how is a society—a nation—culpable?" Tickets range from $20-$92 and can be bought online. Take BART to Orinda and catch the free shuttle to the Cal Shakes Bruns Amphitheater.

Oakland Pride (Sept. 9) at 12th St./Oakland City Center or 19th St./Oakland

Oakland Pride celebrates the cultures and diversity of the LGBTQ community and Oakland and the East Bay. In 2008 the city of Oakland established Oakland Pride for the long term. Since then, the event has been held annually and includes a parade, festival, exhibitors and a family fun zone. The parade kicks off at 10:30am and the festival runs from 11am to 7pm. Admission is free. To watch the parade, take BART to 12th Street./Oakland City Center or 19th Street/Oakland. The festival’s main entrance is at Broadway and 20th Street.

Photo credit: JImmy Chin.

Coal + Ice (Sept. 9-12) at Montgomery Street

COAL + ICE is a documentary photography exhibition and climate festival hoping to amplify the discussion around climate change. Magnum photographer Susan Meiselas and exhibition designer Jeroen de Vries have co-curated the exhibition, which features works of over 40 photographers and global video artists. The event in San Francisco is the U.S. premiere of COAL + ICE. Attendees can expect a 3-week climate festival filled with dance, music, spoken word, food, family activities, films, educational programming and creative dialogue aiming to spark conversation about climate change. The exhibition hours are Sunday through Thursday, 10am to 5pm, Friday 10am to 9pm and Saturday, 10am to 6pm. Take BART to Montgomery Street station and hop on MUNI, walk or take a rideshare or cab to Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture.

Eat Real Festival (Sept. 14-16) at 12th St./Oakland City Center

Oakland’s Eat Real Festival has been held in Jack London Square for the past 10 years, and combines the vibes of a state fair, a street-food festival and a block party to celebrate some of the area’s best local food.

The nonprofit Food Craft Institute’s premier educational program is Eat Real. Eat Real provides a way for the community to learn where food comes from, who grows it and how to prepare it. All food at the festival costs $10 or less, and incorporates regionally-sourced and sustainably-produced ingredients. Some of the food featured will be BBQ, falafel, salads, noodles, ice cream and more. There will also be 40+ craft beers, wines and cocktails available.

Admission is free. Take BART to 12th St./Oakland City Center and walk 15 minutes to Jack London Square.

Photo courtesy of Lafayette Art & Wine Festival’s Facebook page.

Lafayette Art & Wine Festival (Sept. 15-16) at Lafayette

Visiting the Lafayette Art & Wine Festival is a way to see more than 250 fine arts and crafts booths, along with indulging in food from local restaurants and quality wines and microbrews. There will also be three stages playing continuous music such as rock, blues, country and jazz throughout the two-day event. The event begins on Saturday, Sept. 15 from 10am to 7pm and continues on Sunday, Sept. 16 from 10am to 6pm. Admission is free, but tickets for the Kids Zone and drinks for those 21 and over range from $1-$7. Take BART to Lafayette and hop on a free shuttle that will take you to the festival.

Photo courtesy of Autumn Moon Festival.

Autumn Moon Festival (Sept. 15-16) at Montgomery Street

The Autumn Moon Festival in San Francisco’s Chinatown celebrates one of the oldest holidays around: the 1,000 year-old Chinese and Vietnamese holiday of honoring the moon’s symbolic relationship with the fall harvest. Visitors and locals can unite at this festival which celebrates the rich heritage of the city’s Chinatown. Chinese performers and booths stocked with Asian arts and crafts will be present. There will be the best of Chinatown’s culinary offerings along with different varieties of mooncakes — which are traditionally made with red bean or lotus seed paste and yolks or salted duck eggs. They are the staple treat of the holiday, so don’t forget to try some.

Admission is free. Take BART To Montgomery Street and walk four blocks north along Montgomery Street. Turn left on California and walk two blocks to Grant Avenue.

For Colored Girls (Sept. 15-30) at Civic Center/UN Plaza

Ntozake Shange’s Obie Award-Winning choreo-poem is coming to the African-American Shakespeare Company, and the piece speaks proudly of what it means to be a woman of color in the 21st century. Actress, teacher and director Elizabeth Carter will helm the opening production. Tickets are $35 and can be bought online. Take BART to Civic Center/UN Plaza and walk 11 minutes to Taube Atrium Theater.

The Cat in the Hat/ El Gato Ensombrerado (Sept. 15-Nov. 4) at Downtown Berkeley
The Cat in the Hat's outrageous antics and Dr. Seuss's wondrous rhymes are being brought to life in both English and Spanish at The Osher Studio. Guests can expect to see a brother, a sister, a much put-upon goldfish, some Things and tons of clowning around in this new production of Seuss’s classic tale. Recommended for ages 3 to 12. Tickets range from $17-$28 and can be bought online. Take BART to Downtown Berkeley and walk 2 minutes to Bay Area Children's Theatre Osher Studio.

Third Thursdays (Sept. 20) at Civic Center/UN Plaza

Did you know the Civic Center Commons hosts monthly block parties every third Thursday until October? It’s a chance to hang out by Civic Center and grab food and drinks from Off the Grid, listen to music curated by Another Planet Entertainment and play games for all ages such as “beach” volleyball, corn hole, giant chess and more. Admission is free and the event runs from 5 to 9pm. Take BART to Civic Center/UN Plaza and walk 5 minutes to Civic Center Plaza.

Photo courtesy of Freight & Salvage’s website.

F&S Music Festival (Sept. 22) at Downtown Berkeley

Freight & Salvage’s 50th anniversary is this year, and it’s throwing a free indoor and outdoor music festival with multiple stages, dancing, food trucks and family-friendly activities. The festival celebrates and fosters connections that keep traditional music thriving. There will be musical performances featuring funk, Cajun, folk, Latin cumbia, hip-hop and more. The event runs from 11am to 6pm. Take BART to Downtown Berkeley and walk 3 minutes to Freight & Salvage.

Photo courtesy of Sunday Street’s Facebook page.

Sunday Streets Western Addition and Tenderloin (Sept. 9 and 23) at Civic Center/UN Plaza

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 Sept. 9, the Western Addition will have its Sunday Streets event. Visitors can learn about the area’s history — like how it earned the nickname “the Harlem of the West” back during World War 2 — and also enjoy local establishments such as the music venue Boom Boom Room and Miyako Old Fashioned Ice Cream for deli lunches.

On Sept. 23 is Sunday Street Tenderloin. The event will be held around Larkin Street, Ellis Street, Jones Street and Golden Gate Avenue. Guests will be able to roam car-free and choose from a variety of food spots like banh mis or bubble tea. There are also many nonprofits opening their doors to the public, such as the Tenderloin Museum and Tenderloin Community Garden.

Each event is from 11am to 4pm and admission to both is free. Ride BART to Civic Center/UN Plaza and walk, bike, take a cab or rideshare to Western Addition’s main corridors on Fillmore, Fulton or Baker Streets. For Sunday Streets Tenderloin, take BART to Civic Center/UN Plaza and walk 7 minutes to Fulton Street.

black odyssey (Sept. 25-Oct. 7) at Orinda

Gulf War veteran Ulysses Lincoln struggles to get back home to his wife, Nella, and son, Malachi, after being lost at sea and presumed dead. Along his way, a host of Gods control his fate — Deus, Paw Sidin and Aunt Tina. The Gods force Ulysses to confront his ancestral past, to therefore embrace his present. Come see Ulysses' journey on stage at Cal Shakes. Oakland-native Marcus Gardley's "black odyssey" combines Greek mythology and African-American folklore, and is a new take on Homer's classic. It's back by popular demand for a special limited engagement at the Bruns. Tickets range from $27-$60 and can be bought online. Take BART to Orinda and catch the free shuttle to the Cal Shakes Bruns Amphitheater.

For one day only, visitors to the Oakland Museum of California can explore five engaging pop-up projects within a three-block radius of OMCA. Artists and community organizers will be putting on dynamic and interactive events involving shared storytelling, literature, dance, art, performances and photography. Sites like the Laney College quad, Lake Merritt BART Plaza and Oakland Public Library's main branch will have some of the day's activities.
Visitors are encouraged to listen, learn, and contribute their own stories to the discussions about some of Oakland's most important issues today — such as cultural legacy, gentrification, homelessness, and processing emotions around loss of life. Go beyond the walls of the OMCA and be part of a special one-day celebration of Oakland's culture. The event runs from 11am to 5pm and admission is free. Take BART to Lake Merritt and walk 2 minutes to the museum. 

Kiss (Extended until Sept. 30) at Ashby

“Kiss” is celebrating its West Coast Premiere at The Shotgun Players Club, and it’s about a group of actors who discover a script set in Damascus, Syria. What appears to be a romantic melodrama turns into something very different. “Kiss” compels its audience to continually question reality; come and see the mystery hidden underneath what’s masked as a love story. Tickets range from $8-$40 and can be bought online. Take BART to Ashby and walk 4 minutes to Shotgun Players at the Ashby Stage.

Detroit ‘67 (Ends Sept. 30) at Downtown Berkeley

It’s 1967 in Detroit, during the age of Motown, and Chelle and her brother Lank host after-hours dance parties in the basement of their house so they can make some extra bucks. The siblings start clashing, however, when Lank shelters a battered white woman, leading to conflicts that go beyond the family business and the riots destroying the black neighborhoods around them. Watching “Detroit ‘67” means watching a redemptive story of family and survival. See the play that has won the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History. Take BART to Downtown Berkeley and walk 2 minutes to Aurora Theatre.

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