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7 Awesome San Francisco Free Shows To See This Summer

Alice's Summerthing (credit: Steve Wyrostock)

Hundreds of free performances litter the calendar through October at venues all over the city to entertain office workers on lunch breaks, to amuse kids who adore clowns, to accompany picnics al fresco at Stern Grove, and to please fans of the Great American Songbook at the bandshell in Golden Gate Park.

(credit: Alice@97.3)


Alice @ 97.3's Summerthing
Sharon Meadow - Golden Gate Park
320 Bowling Green Drive
San Francisco, CA 94118
Date: Sunday, June 28th

An annual FREE concert in Golden Gate Park is Sunday, June 28th from Noon to around 4:00 in Sharon Meadow. Enjoy an afternoon of live music, sun, fun, good vibes, food trucks and more. with performances by Kelly Clarkson, Mat Kearney Elle King & Rachel Platten. Celebrating everything we love about summer!

(credit: Stern Grove)


Stern Grove Festival
Sigmund Stern Recreation Grove
19th Ave. and Sloat Blvd.
San Francisco, CA 94132
(415) 252-6252
Dates: June 14 through August 16, 2015; Sundays at 2 p.m.

The granddaddy of them all, San Francisco is lucky to have this series, now in its 78th season. The happy coincidence of natural acoustics plus a grove of eucalyptus, redwood and fir trees and a generous benefactor, who happened to be president of the San Francisco Recreation Commission, allowed for a wonderful gift to the city in 1931. One of Northern California's favorite outdoor performance sites, the festival hosts 10 consecutive Sundays of world class and emerging talent and admission-free events, including San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Ballet and San Francisco Opera for about 100,000 visitors every summer.

Golden Gate Park, Music Concourse

Golden Gate Park Band
Music Concourse
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 831-5500
Dates: April 19 through October 11, 2015; Sundays at 1 p.m.

Now in its 133rd year, one of the nation's oldest traditions in free summer concerts is the Golden Gate Park Band. Performances take place at the Spreckels Temple of Music in the tree-filled plaza between the Young Museum and the California Academy of Sciences, where chairs are put out for the audience. The program includes popular Broadway show tunes, famous all-American marches, swing, classical, operatic, jazz, ethnic celebrations with costumed dance and song, soloists, guest artists and a closing finale in the fall. Each concert lasts approximately 90 minutes.

Yerba Buena, Downtown San Francisco

Yerba Buena Gardens Festival
Mission St., between 3rd and 4th St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 543-1718
Dates: May 16 through Oct. 3, 2015; days and times vary

Celebrating its 15th anniversary, the free outdoor event series brings performances to one of the city's loveliest open spaces in the heart of downtown. The festival offers Thursday lunchtime concerts, weekend sessions, children's programs and a occasional events at the Jessie Square stage. Clowns and acrobats, salsa orchestra, youth jazz bands, piano recitals, puppetry, dance and drum, ethnic music projects and commissioned works are all featured in this year's lineup of over 90 programs in all.

(credit: Laurie Jo Miller Farr)


Presidio Sessions
Presidio Officer's Club
50 Moraga Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94129
Dates: May through June, 2015; Fridays at 6 p.m.

Presidio Sessions is an ongoing Friday evening series. San Francisco's newest events and programs venue is in one of the city's oldest buildings. Facing the Main Post Lawn in the Presidio, a robust calendar of free events is produced quarterly for all to enjoy. Classical music with a twist, guitar and string quartets, a jazz sextet, the next generation of jazz stars and a nice guy trio are among the wide range of popular sessions. In the intimate atmosphere of a house concert, concertgoers have an opportunity to mingle and meet performers. Sessions are curated by San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music in the beautiful setting of Moraga Hall adjoining Arguello Restaurant.

(credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)


Union Square Live
333 Post St.
San Francisco, CA 94108
Dates: May through Sept., 2015; dates and times vary

Always free and always something, the Union Square Live online calendar is updated frequently with dance and music from performers from all over the Bay Area and from all over the world. Some concerts are held at noontime, some begin at 2 p.m., and a healthy schedule of performances takes place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. between April and October to include psychedelic roots-rock band Moonalice. Expect everything from the blues to bongos, plus the sixth annual Picklewater Free Circus Festival's 60-minute one-ring acts in July 12, 19 and 26, 2015 and a Dance-a-Vision tribute to Michael Jackson on the afternoon of August 30, 2015.

(credit: Doc Michaels/


Jerry Day 2015
Jerry Garcia Amphitheater
John McLaren Park
100 John F. Shelley Dr.
San Francisco, CA 94134
Date: Aug. 2, 2015, 11:15 a.m.

Jerry Garcia is a San Francisco native son, born at 121 Amazon St. in 1942. The first Jerry Day was held in 2003 and continued following the public effort to rename the McLaren Park amphitheater in 2005. People gather in tribute to one of the greatest rock guitarists of all time, capturing the true spirit and legacy of Jerry Garcia through his music in his childhood home in the Excelsior District. Look for the lineup for this free concert to be announced online.

Laurie Jo Miller Farr loves walkable cities. A tourism industry professional and transplanted New Yorker by way of half-a-lifetime in London, she's writing about the best of the bay and beyond for Yahoo, USA Today, eHow, and on

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