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8 Bay Area Music Festivals To Look Forward to this Summer

The band Wednesday performs on the Lands End Stage during the Outside Lands 2023 Music and Arts Festival held in Golden Gate Bridge Park in San Francisco, CA on August 12, 2023. (Photo by Alive Coverage/Sipa USA)
Alive Coverage/Alive Coverage/Sipa USA
Sipa USA
The band Wednesday performs on the Lands End Stage during the Outside Lands 2023 Music and Arts Festival held in Golden Gate Bridge Park in San Francisco, CA on August 12, 2023. (Photo by Alive Coverage/Sipa USA)

Even though Mark Twain allegedly said the coldest winter he ever spent was summer in San Francisco, the Bay Area is pretty hot when it comes to music festival season. From the iconic, long-time multi-day affairs to the uniquely Bay Area offerings, there’s pretty much something for everyone. Take a look at the music festivals in the Bay Area that KALW is looking forward to this summer.

Mill Valley Music Festival 

Produced by the Mill Valley Chamber and Noise Pop Industries, the Mill Valley Music Festival brings together another great mix of local and national acts on May 11 - 12, 2024 at Friends Field in Marin County. The arts and culture fest takes place below the slopes of Mount Tam, and it features the likes of Fleet Foxes, Thee Sacred Souls, Margo Price, Rebirth Brass Band, plus a number of local up-and-coming bands from around the Bay Area. Festival goers can also enjoy delicious eats from Mill Valley restaurants, and a market featuring local artisans and artists.

Strawberry Music Festival 

The summer campout meets the music festival at the Spring Strawberry Music Festival, which takes place amongst the conifer trees at the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley, California from May 22-27, 2024. It’s a multi-day, family-friendly affair featuring a multi-generational community of music lovers and a lineup showcasing folk and bluegrass performers. This year includes a few KALW favorites like Aoife O’Donovan, Yasmin Williams, and the Kathy Kallick Band. When you’re not jamming in the music meadow, there’s a whole tree-filled campground to explore.

BottleRock Napa Valley 

You can obviously expect good food and wine at the BottleRock Festival, which takes place at the Napa Valley Expo from May 24-26, 2024, but the festival also features a veritable feast of treats for the ears. From Stevie Nicks and Pearl Jam to Queens of the Stonage and Megan Thee Stallion, the three-day affair brings together some of the biggest names in music with under-discovered acts like KALW favorites Say Shee, Mononeon and Dehd. The culinary stage, which features presentations from celebrity chefs, is a draw all on its own and there’s always all the art, beer and wine, and the official aftershows if you can’t get enough.

Stern Grove Festival 

If paying for a multi-day festival is not your thing, there’s always the spectacularly summer Stern Grove Festival, San Francisco’s original free music festival taking place on Sundays from June to August at the beautiful Sigmund Stern Recreation Grove. This year's lineup may be one of the best, with The Commodores, Herbie Hancock, Tegan and Sara, and Franc Moody on the bill. Plus, of course the big picnic with Chaka Khan! Catch Stern every Sunday from June 23 to August 25.

Mosswood Meltdown 

The first thing you need to know about the Mosswood Meltdown is that it’s hosted by John Waters, who describes the festival as “a July 4th musical pyrotechnic display that explodes all on its own with slamming human cherry bombs, moshing punk-rock roman candles, and scary screaming sparklers of every race and gender.” The next is that it takes place July 6-7, 2024 in Mosswood Park in Oakland, and the highlight of this year is a very rare and highly-anticipated performance by the B-52s. Big Freedia and Bay Area mainstays Hunx and his Punx are also on the bill. Plus, of course, there’ll be great food vendors and a beer garden for when you need to take a break from moshing.

Fillmore Jazz Festival

Billed as the largest free jazz festival on the West Coast, the Fillmore Jazz Festival blends art and soul in one of San Francisco’s unique historic neighborhoods this summer on July 6-7, 2024. The event takes over Fillmore Street between Jackson and Eddy streets, featuring 12 blocks of music stages, fine art and crafts, and food and beverages. Tap into this festival to get a taste of the iconic history of the Fillmore, which was said to be the Harlem of the West.

Outside Lands 

Outside Lands is probably the quintessential San Francisco summer festival, drawing crowds from near and far to experience one of the biggest culture events on the calendar. Taking place each year in Golden Gate Park and spanning three days of music, food, and cannabis, this year’s event is headlined by The Killers, Grace Jones, Sturgill Simpson and The Postal Service. As always, you can also expect some top-notch indie acts, like The Last Dinner Party, BadBadNotGood, BALTHVS, and Sofia Kourtesis to round out the eclectic lineup. Outside Lands takes place from August 9 – 11, 2024.

Yerba Buena Gardens Festival 

Every week is a festival week thanks to the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival. From May to October, you can catch the Thursday Lunchtime Series where touring musicians and homegrown Bay Area artists perform on the garden’s lawn. The sounds of Yerba Buena include everything from jazz and blues to soul and world music that will take you away from the downtown bustle for at least an hour.