SAN FRANCISCO, July 27, 2011 — San Francisco is not well known for its outdoor concerts. But, little known fact, the Bay Area is crawling with free outdoor concerts throughout the summer months. You just have to know where to look.
The Stern Grove Festival is the nation’s longest running free outdoor concert and performing arts series. It takes place in Sigmund Stern Recreational Grove. Performances begin at 2 pm on Sundays from June through August every year.
Every year since 1938, Stern Grove has featured amazing acts that vary from soul, Brit-pop, blues and jazz to the San Francisco Symphony, Ballet and Opera. No matter your musical taste, Stern Grove is dedicated to putting on a diverse array of high quality performances.
The concerts are performed in the Grove’s breath-taking outdoor amphitheater. The natural acoustics, fragrant eucalyptus and towering redwood trees make for a perfect setting. Bring blankets, low lawn chairs, and a picnic. There are concession stands if you don’t want to pack your own snacks.
*Arrive no later than 11 am if you want to get seats inside the amphitheater. Be prepared to hike down to the amphitheater. The venue is located in the valley floor of Stern Grove. There are trails and stairs, but wear good shoes for walking.
* If you can’t get there early, never fear. There is a large lawn area outside the main amphitheater area to the West. This is an open lawn area where you can set up camp. You won’t be able to see the concert from there, but you can certainly still hear it, relax and enjoy.
* If you want to drink beer or wine while enjoying the concert, you have to bring it yourself, as Stern Grove does not sell alcohol. If you forget your wine-bottle opener, there will likely be a happy group nearby to help you out.
There is limited reserved picnic table seating available to members of the Festival. If you are not a member, you might still get a table seat through the weekly lottery, if any are available. You can enter the lottery online or by mail.
To download the 2011 concert calendar, click here.
For more on the history of the Stern Grove Festival, click here.
If you are biking, Stern Grove has a complimentary bike valet service. It is located at the top of the main entrance to the park at 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard. Valet service opens at 10:00am and closes one hour after the concert ends. Click here for a PDF map of bike routes in San Francisco.
If you are taking public transportation, you can take MUNI buses and streetcars. MUNI lines 23, 28, K & M will get you there. If you are coming from the East Bay, you can take BART and transfer to MUNI. If you are coming from the South Bay, you can take CalTrain and transfer to MUNI. From Marin, try Golden Gate Transit buses. To plan your trip with all available public transportation, click here.
For a list of additional free concerts and other outdoor performances, click here.
Cover photo of San Francisco Symphony and photo of Afrocubism courtesy of Scott Wall Photo. Rights to these images belong to Scott Wall Photo.
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