August arts, music and events calendar

Photo courtesy of Oaktown Half's Facebook page

We promise — you’re going to love August. How could you not enjoy a month filled with events like street festivals, wine tasting walks, a Janet Jackson headlining set, blues music, a half marathon, contemporary dance, a celebration of Filipino culture and epic Shakespearean plays? We’ve included some new, first-time events and others that have become Bay Area traditions. See what’s happening in your side of town this month, or let BART take you on a route less traveled.

Note: BART will be making major repairs on the track and other infrastructure between 19th Street/Oakland and West Oakland stations on several weekends in August and September, including Labor Day weekend. Read the full story here

First Wednesday (Aug. 1) at Walnut Creek

On every First Wednesday of the Month from 5:30 to 8:30pm through September, Walnut Creek Downtown is throwing 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. On Aug. 1, Cut Loose will be providing the evening’s entertainment. Admission is free. Take BART to Walnut Creek and walk 13 minutes to Cypress Street.

Visit Concord's Music and Market series is a summer series featuring live music and a farmers market.

Photo courtesy of Visit Concord's Facebook page

Music & Market Series (Aug. 2) 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. On Aug. 2 is James Clark Presents Elvis, Elton and Mick — The King of Rock ’n Roll meets the British Invasion. Other music this month features a tribute to English band The Police, Spanish guitar virtuosos and indie rock. Admission is free. Take BART to Concord and walk 8 minutes to Todos Santos Plaza.

Oakland Art Murmur at 19th Street/Oakland

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 August it will fall on Aug. 3. 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.

Fremont Festival of the Arts (Aug. 4-5) at Fremont

The largest free outdoor street-festival west of the Mississippi covers more than four walking miles and attracts nearly 400,000 guests — and is right here in the Bay Area, in Fremont. Visitors to the 35th annual Fremont Festival of the Arts can expect to see one-of-a-kind pieces ranging from paintings and drawings to household decorations and furnishings. There will also be a Gourmet Marketplace with specialty foods, along with gourmet food trucks, beer, wine, margaritas and more. Enjoy food and drinks while perusing more than 500 artist booths and listening to the continuous live music on two stages. the Admission is free and the event runs from 10am to 6pm. Take BART to Fremont and walk 8 minutes to Walnut ave and Paseo Padre Parkway.

Commons Block Party on 1st Sundays (Aug. 5) at Civic Center/UN Plaza

Did you know the Civic Center Commons hosts weekend block parties? On every first Sunday from from now until Nov. 4th you can hang out by Civic Center and grab food from Off the Grid, listen to music by Bonneville San Francisco KMVQ 99.7 FM, shop for one-of-a-kind goods created by local SF Etsy artisans, make DIY arts and crafts and more. Aug. 5’s event will feature street soccer, 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.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Ends Aug. 5) at 16th St. Mission

Bay Area Musicals presents 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 features 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.

Everybody is a play at Cal Shakes in Orinda.

Photo courtesy of Cal Shakes' Facebook page

Everybody (Ends Aug. 5) at Orinda

“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 Bruns Amphitheater.

Pete the Cat (Ends Aug. 5) 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.


Photo of Outside Lands, a three day festival in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Jorgensen

Outside Lands (Aug. 10-12) at Civic Center/UN Plaza

Outside Lands is the Bay Area’s biggest music festival, with last year’s lineup attracting over 200,000 guests. This year there are two female headliners on the list — Florence + the Machine and Janet Jackson — an Outside Lands first. Other big-name artists are The Weeknd, Beck and Portugal. The Man. Beyond just music, Outside Lands also offers attractions focused around food, wine, beer and art, such as the popular “Wine Lands” and “Chocolate Lands.” There’s even a Barbary Coast tent that hosts comedy sets, in case you need a break from music or just want some good laughs. Jeff Goldblum and Nick Kroll were Barbary Coast performers last year.

There are single-day and 3-day tickets available, which are available to purchase online. Single day tickets are $149.50 and a 3-day ticket is $325. Take BART to Civic Center/UN Plaza, transfer to the SF Muni outbound N Judah, ride to 34th and Judah and walk two blocks north to Golden Gate Park. Alternatively, ride BART to Civic Center/UN Plaza, transfer to the Muni 5 Fulton at McAllister and Jones outbound to 25th and Fulton.

Oaktown Half (Aug. 11-12) at 12th St./Oakland City Center

Get your running shoes on and join the Oaktown Half Marathon, now celebrating its 5th anniversary. The 2-day event will feature a #RootedInOakland Festival, 5K, Youth Mile, Kids Stomper’s Stomp presented by the Oakland A’s and a half marathon. Runners will be able to get a taste of Oakland’s soul, from City Hall to Jack London Square to Uptown and then Lake Merritt. Registration prices are $15-$125. Take BART to 12th St./Oakland City Center and walk 4 minutes to City Hall.

Pistahan is a Filipino cultural festival and parade held every August in San Francisco.

Photo courtesy of Pistahan Festival and Parade

Pistahan 2018: Filipino Cultural Festival and Parade (Aug. 11-12) at Civic Center/UN Plaza

The Filipino American Arts Exposition organizes the annual Pistahan Festival and Parade, which is billed as the largest celebration of Filipino Americans in the U.S. On Saturday, there will be a parade down Market St. to 4th St. displaying Filipino culture and traditions with marching bands, cultural dance groups and even Stormtroopers. The festival, which will run on both Saturday and Sunday at the Yerba Buena Gardens, will have seven pavilions for exploration, discovery and learning — plus four food contests! The two-day event is expected to draw over 80,000 people over the weekend. Admission is free. Take BART to Civic Center/UN Plaza for the parade. For the festival, take BART to Montgomery Street or Powell Street and walk 10 minutes to 750 Howard St.

Civic Center Commons 3rd Thursdays
Photo courtesy of Civic Center Commons' website

Commons Block Party on 3rd Thursdays (Aug. 16) at Civic Center/UN Plaza

Celebrate it almost being the weekend by checking out the Commons Block Party held at Civic Center Plaza. For every third Thursday of the month through Oct. 18, the Civic Center Commons wants you to come to its block parties, filled with performances by local bands curated by Another Planet Entertainment and street food offerings from Off the Grid. There will also be a full bar, games for all ages (like "beach" volleyball), and the Common's newest public art installation. This month's event will have Sonny & The Sunsets, Banzai Cliff and Golden Gram performing. Admission is free. The event is from 5 to 9pm. Take BART to Civic Center/UN Plaza and walk 7 minutes to Civic Center Plaza.

FACT/SF Summer Dance Festival (Aug. 16-17) at 16th St. Mission

San Francisco-based contemporary dance company FACT/SF is hosting the inaugural year of the FACT/SF Summer Dance Festival, featuring works by FACT and other dance companies Fog Beast and Simpson/Stulberg Collaborations, with visiting artist Joy Davis. Each performance is stylistically diverse and brings together works from local artists and artists from other regions. There will be three duets and a solo show. Performances will start at 8pm and be held at Joe Goode Annex in San Francisco. Tickets range from $15-$25 and can be bought online. Take BART to 16th St. Mission and walk 10 minutes to the annex.

Bay Area Blues Fest (Aug. 18-19) at Civic Center/UN Plaza

San Francisco is known for its love of the blues. The 8th annual Polk Street Blues Festival is a two-day event that will feature blues artists on two main stages from 10am to 6pm. There will also be a merchant marketplace, arts and crafts, food booths, cafe seating areas and more. Take BART to Civic Center/UN Plaza and walk 17 minutes to Polk St. around California to Post streets.

 program of the nonprofit Livable City presented in partnership with the SFMTA, San Francisco Department of Public Health, and the City and County of San Francisco.

Photo courtesy of Sunday Streets' Facebook page

Sunday Streets SoMa (Aug. 19) at Montgomery Street, Powell Street or 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 Aug. 19, SoMa will have its Sunday Streets event. It’s the first new Sunday Streets route in five years, spanning Folsom Street from Essex to 10th Street.

Visitors can see the collection at the Prelinger library, tour world-class museums like SFMOMA and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and end the night dancing at DNA Lounge, or one of the other many nightlife spots on 11th Street. There’s also the SoMa StrEat Food Park with many food truck options and outdoor seating. Also worth exploring are the area’s alleyways, murals, small businesses and industrial architecture. The event runs from 11am to 4pm and is free. Take BART to Montgomery Street, Powell Street or Civic Center/UN Plaza and walk about 10 minutes to the Sunday Streets route on Folsom Street.

The War of the Roses (Aug. 22-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.

Photo courtesy of The Shotgun Players

Kiss (Aug. 23-Sept. 23) at Ashby

“Kiss” is celebrating its West Coast Premiere at The Ashby Theatre presented by The Shotgun Players, and it’s about a group of actors who discover a script set in Damascus. 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 (Aug. 31-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 women, 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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