There are a lot of great annual events in San Francisco like Bayto Breakers, Outside Lands, The Halloween Pub Crawl and Fleet Week, however there are two amazing music festivals that take place every year and are free to everyone. Both Hardly Strictly Bluegrass and The Stern Grove festival bring an amazing variety of bands to outdoor venues every year and give everyone a chance to enjoy live music without breaking the bank.
While Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, which is held in Golden Gate Park, is a single two-day event that occurs on the first weekend in October every year, the Stern Grove Festival offers a whole season of free events on Sundays from June to August. The long-running concert series began in 1938 and has been going strong ever since, with well over 500,000 people attending the concerts every year.
If you are thinking that a festival featuring 10 weeks of free concerts in one of the most expensive cities in the world is probably some low budget, makeshift event with little production and terrible sound, that would be a fair conclusion. However, Stern Grove Festival is not some crappy backyard festival with a few local bands taking the stage. First of all, the location of the festival, Sigmund Stern Grove, is a beautiful, natural amphitheater lined with eucalyptus trees that would be a great place to have a picnic or hang out with friends regardless of any events that may take place. It features a large grassy area, wooden benches, and stone bleachers that blend in perfectly to the natural surroundings of the area. There is a large stage with an amazing sound and lighting system that can be seen easily from all around the area due to its amphitheater-like setup. The lineups for the festival are pretty incredible, considering it is a free event. Featuring a variety of performances and concerts, the Stern Grove Festival has hosted a huge number of amazing acts over the years including The Psychedelic Furs, James, San Francisco Ballet, Galactic, Digable Planets, Ziggy Marley, Fantastic Negrito, Kool & The Gang, George Clinton and the Parliment Funkadelic, Janelle Monáe, Talib Kweli, Andrew Bird, Smokey Robinson, OK Go, Ozomatli, They Might Be Giants, Rogue Wave, Roberta Flack, Huey Lewis & The News, Arrested Development, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, Tower of Power and more.
This is all made possible due to the non-profit group that runs the event. The Stern Grove Festival Association is dedicated to making live music accessible to all and raises over $3 Million for the festival and other related programs. If you want to find out more or make a donation to this amazing non-profit group, find out more at the official website or click here to make a donation.