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Best Fall Festivals Coming To The Bay Area

Buffy Sainte-Marie at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2016

There are so many fall festivals throughout the Bay Area all season long that each weekend is filled with a different themed event. Find the festivals you want to attend and schedule them in now. Read on for five terrific festival suggestions coming this fall, and most have FREE admission.

(credit: Randy Yagi)

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
Hellman Hollow, Golden Gate Park
100 John F Kennedy Drive
San Francisco, CA 94118
Dates: Oct 6-8, 2017 - FREE admission

Come out and enjoy three full days of free live music in the open green of Golden Gate Park. The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival began in 2001 as a strictly bluegrass music festival, but over time the range of musical genres has expanded, and includes a broad range of artists and music sounds for an incredible diverse and talented lineup of more than 100 music acts on seven stages. This is a family-friendly event and quality festival food will be available for purchase, but not alcohol. You are free to bring picnic coolers, blankets, and low backed chairs. Visit the website for FAQ and to view and download the 2016 music schedule.

(credit: Miramar Events)

47th Annual Art & Pumpkin Festival
Main Street between Mill and Spruce Streets
Half Moon Bay, CA
Dates: October 14-15, 2017 - 9:00am - 5:00pm

Celebrate the fall harvest and autumn splendor at the pumpkin capital of the world, Half Moon Bay. Each year, it's a must to pay tribute to the almighty gourd at the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival. You'll have a "smashing" time feating on all the homestyle foods, rocking out with four stages of amazing live music, participate in pie-eating and costume contests and so much more! Get there early as the roads can get pretty packed.

Ghirardelli Square In San Francisco
Ghirardelli Square In San Francisco (credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

22nd Annual Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival
Ghirardelli Square
900 N. Point St.
San Francisco, CA 94109
(510) 343-8429
Dates: Sept 9-10, 2017 - 12 pm–5pm, $20-$50
Ticket Information:

We would be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn't like chocolate, and to find the most chocolate lovers in one place, look no further than the much-anticipated annual Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival presented by world renown chocolatier, Ghirardelli. A Bay Area original and still a favorite, Ghirardelli calls all chocolate devotees to enjoy this wonderfully sweet two-day celebration of chocolate in all its many shapes, tastes and culinary incarnations and Indulge for the Cause. The event truly makes life sweeter as 100 percent of the festival's profits are donated to non-profit Project Open Hand, an organization that provides meals to seniors and the critically ill. What a delectable way to contribute to this hardworking effort, and donating never tasted so good! Come and learn from local culinary experts as they work their magic and spin some deliciousness with — what else? Chocolate, of course. Plus, sip the best local wines, brews and spirits as you savor gourmet dessert samples, learn about the art of chocolate-making on the "Chocolate School" tour plus a whole lot more. Visit the website for full details.

Oktoberfest Beer (credit: Laurie Jo Miller Farr)
Oktoberfest By The Bay
Pier 48 near AT&T Park
San Francisco, CA  94158
(888) 746-7522
Dates: Sep 22-24, 2017

Get out your dirndls and lederhosen, ladies and gents. If you can't get to Munich, join in some traditional German-style singing and dancing to the Bavarian oompah-pah bands closer to home. In late September, Oktoberfest beer hall parties with pretzels, bratwurst and beer boots are in full swing around the world and across the Bay Area, with our biggest one at Pier 48 for three days on Sept. 22-24, 2017. There's plenty of hearty food and German beer for clinking your mugs and saluting the season with a "Prost!"

Bay Area Blues Festival
(credit: Bay Area Blues Festival)

7th Annual Bay Area Blues Festival
Main Street at Alhambra to Court Streets
Martinez, CA
Dates: Sep 23-24, 2017

Looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. One of the best ways to kick-off Fall in the Bay Area is to head to Martinez for the Bay Area Blues Festival. This free festival is located at historic downtown Martinez on September 23 & 24, 2017 and features the best Blues musicians performing on two stages. Plus enjoy the variety of arts and crafts exhibitors, purveyors of quality gourmet food, craft beer and wine makers, kids activities and so much more. This event is a must-go to start off an amazing Fall season.

Melanie Graysmith is a writer, artist and educator based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She writes on adult education, art and culture, business, and lifestyle topics, and enjoys writing short stories and poetry. She is also a part of the Bay Area independent film community.


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