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Yerba Buena Gardens Festival Kick Off

May 6th is Opening Day of 100+ free outdoor events all spring & summer long
By - posted 5/5/2018 No Comment

Between May and October in 2018, the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival presents 100 free performances on three outdoor stages in Yerba Buena Gardens.

Admission is free and entertainment includes music, theater, dance, cultural events, educational and children’s programs.

2018 Yerba Buena Gardens Festival
May 6 – October 28, 2018
Yerba Buena Gardens, Mission between 3rd and 4th Streets, San Francisco

How to Get There

Most performances take place on the Esplanade just south of Mission Street, with a few performances taking place at Jessie Square (North of Mission) and children’s events taking place at the Children’s Garden south of Howard Street. Directions / Muni / Parking

2018 Festival Series

Let’s Go Salsa@Jessie!, the open-air salsa dance party in Jessie Square (near the Contemporary Jewish Museum), takes place on the third Thursday of each month from May to September from 6-7:30 pm. Performers include the ‘New Mambo Retro Salsa’ group Cabanijazz Project on May 17, the nine-piece combo Bululú led by Venezuelan-born percussion master and vocalist Lali Mejia on June 21, the Bay Area’s inventive Cuban band Pellejo Seco on July 19, the U.S. State Department-sponsored Latin Jazz Ambassadors and the Mission’s own Annette A. Aguilar & StringBeans on August 16, and Los Mocosos vocalist and master salsero Manny Martinez y la Rebeldia on September 20.

Children’s Garden Series features interactive performances specially designed for kids and families every Friday from June to August in the Yerba Buena Children’s Garden at Fourth and Howard Streets. The series presents performances by kid favorites: the 2018 Grammy-nominated Alphabet Rockers, Non Stop Bhangra, Māhealani Uchiyama, Parangal Dance Company, Circus Bella, Unique Derique, Caterpillar Puppets, Chelle! & Friends, Pi Clowns, Red Panda Acrobats, Venezuelan Music Project, Crosspulse, and Ka-Hon. The series ends with the wildly popular 18th Annual Halloween Hoopla on Sunday, October ­28.

Thursday Lunchtime Concert Series takes place most Thursdays from 12:30 to 1:30 pm and is a favorite destination of downtown workers, shoppers, tourists, and students. This year features the very best of local and international musicians including New World String Project on May 10, Community Music Center Older Adult Choirs on May 17, Dogon Lights on May 24, Kitty Pak on May 31, Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble of San Francisco on June 7, the Swedish Consulate’s Jenny Lind Concert on June 21, Dalia & the Big Violin on June 28, Manring Kassin Burr on July 5, Maikaze Daiko on July 12, Solate on July 19, Sol Development with Mino Yanci on August 2, LINES Dance Center on August 9, Highest Ani on August 16, Faun Fables on August 23, La Patronal on August 30, John Brothers Piano Company on September 6, Daniel Riera: Future Flutist with Electric Ensemble on October 4, and Rice Kings on October 11.

Yerba Buena Gardens Festival presents Poetic Tuesdays on the second Tuesday of each month. Guest curated by Litquake, Poetic Tuesdays runs from 12:30-1:30 pm and features an array of poets and music.

2018 Festival Highlights

Opening Day: The Yerba Buena Gardens Festival opens on Sunday, May 6 at 1 pm with the first all-female mariachi ensemble, Mariachi Flor de Toloache, as they have blazed a brilliant pioneering path for women in a traditionally male world of Mexican music.

Each and every week and weekend, the Festival presents a curated lineup of musicians, dancers, poets, and artists from around the world including the Moroccan trance music of Innov Gnawa with Book of J on May 12, northwestern Indian dance with Garba in the Gardens on May 19, the 2nd Annual Yerba Buena Gardens ChoreoFest on June 2 and 3, the most celebrated gamelan ensemble outside of Bali, Gamelan Sekar Jaya, on June 9, powerhouse Afro-Venezeulan vocalist Betsayda Machado y La Parranda El Clavo with VNote Ensemble on June 16, three performances from Festival favorites Circus Bella on June 22 and 23, the all-women klezmer group direct from New York City Isle of Klezbos with San Francisco’s Fanfare Zambaleta on July 7, Ukulenny and Cynthia Lin’s SF Uke Jam Summer Uke-Splosion! on July 14, Cuban saxophonist Yosvany Terry Sextet on July 28, the 40th Anniversary performance of the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band on July 29, one of Vietnam’s most celebrated traditional artists Vân Ánh Võ & The VA’V on August 25, Manila Disco Fever on September 1, and the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival commissioned piece from Marcus Shelby Orchestra – Blackball: The Negro League and the Blues on September 8. The Festival closes with the 18th Annual Halloween Hoopla on Sunday, October 28.

Annual Cultural Festivals: the 21st Native Contemporary Arts Festival on June 17, the 18th Annual AfroSolo in the Gardens featuring a Tribute to Duke Ellington featuring Denise Perrier and Nina Causley with David Hardiman’s San Francisco All-Star Big Band on August 4, the 25th Annual Pistahan on August 11 and 12, and Brazil in the Gardens: Pragandaia with special guest Margareth Menezes on August 18.

2018 Events Calendar


  • Mariachi Flor de Toloache + Diana Gameros, Sunday, May 6, 1-3 pm
  • Poetic Tuesdays with Litquake, Tuesday, May 8, 12:30-1:30 pm
  • New World String Project, Thursday, May 10, 12:30-1:30 pm
  • Innov Gnawa + Book of J, Saturday, May 12, 1-3 pm
  • Community Music Center Older Adult Choirs, Thursday, May 17, 12:30-1:30 pm
  • Let’s Go Salsa@Jessie! Cabanijazz Project, Thursday, May 17, 6-7:30 pm
  • Garba in the Gardens, Saturday, May 19, 1-3 pm
  • Dogon Lights, Thursday, May 24, 12:30-1:30 pm
  • Tom Rigney & Flambeau, Saturday, May 26, 1-2:30 pm
  • Kitty Pak, Thursday, May 31, 12:30-1:30 pm


  • 2nd Annual Yerba Buena Gardens ChoreoFest, Saturday, June 2 & Sunday, June 3, 1-2:30 pm
  • Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble of San Francisco, Thursday, June 7, 12:30-1:30 pm
  • Gamelan Sekar Jaya, Saturday, June 9, 1-2:30 pm
  • Poetic Tuesdays with Litquake, Tuesday, June 12, 12:30-1:30 pm
  • Betsayda Machado y La Parranda El Clavo + VNote Ensemble, Saturday, June 16, 1-3 pm
  • 21st Native Contemporary Arts Festival, Sunday, June 17, 12-3 pm
  • Jenny Lind Concert, Thursday, June 21, 12:30-1:30 pm
  • Let’s Go Salsa@Jessie! Bululú, Thursday, June 21, 6-7:30 pm
  • Circus Bella, Friday, June 22, 12:00pm-1:00pm; Saturday, June 23, 12-1 pm & 2:15-3:15 pm
  • Dalia & the Big Violin, Thursday, June 28, 12:30-1:30 pm
  • Music of the Banned, Saturday, June 30, 1-3:30 pm


  • Manring Kassin Burr, Thursday, July 5, 12:30-1:30 pm
  • Isle of Klezbos + Fanfare Zambaleta, Saturday, July 7, 1-3 pm
  • Poetic Tuesdays with Litquake, Tuesday, July 10, 12:30-1:30 pm
  • Maikaze Daiko, Thursday, July 12, 12:30-1:30 pm
  • SF Uke Jam Summer Uke-Splosion!, Saturday, July 14, 1-3 pm
  • San Francisco Mime Troupe, Sunday, July 15, 2-4 pm
  • Solate, Thursday, July 19, 12:30-1:30 pm
  • Let’s Go Salsa@Jessie! Pellejo Seco, Thursday, July 19, 6-7:30 pm
  • Yosvany Terry Sextet, Saturday, July 28, 1-2:30 pm
  • San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band, Sunday, July 29, 1-2:30 pm


  • Sol Development w/ Mino Yanci, Thursday, August 2, 12:30-1:30 pm
  • AfroSolo in the Gardens, Saturday, August 4, 1-2:30 pm
  • LINES Dance Center, Thursday, August 9, 12:30-1:30 pm
  • Pistahan, Saturday, August 11 & Sunday, August 12, 11 am-5 pm
  • Poetic Tuesdays with Litquake, Tuesday, August 14, 12:30-1:30 pm
  • Highest Ani, Thursday, August 16, 12:30-1:30 pm
  • Let’s Go Salsa@Jessie! Annette A. Aguilar & StringBeans, Thursday, August 16, 6-7:30 pm
  • Brazil in the Gardens, Saturday, August 18, 1-2:30 pm
  • Faun Fables, Thursday, August 23, 12:30-1:30 pm
  • Vân Ánh Võ & The VA’V, Saturday, August 25, 1-2:30 pm
  • La Patronal, Thursday, August 30, 12:30-1:30 pm


  • Manila Disco Fever, Saturday, September 1, 1-2:30 pm
  • John Brothers Piano Company, Thursday, September 6, 12:30-1:30 pm
  • Marcus Shelby Orchestra’s Blackball: The Negro League and the Blues, Saturday, September 8, 1-2:30 pm
  • Poetic Tuesdays with Litquake, Tuesday, September 11, 12:30-1:30 pm
  • Let’s Go Salsa@Jessie! Manny Martinez y la Rebeldia, Thursday, September 20, 6-7:30 pm


  • Daniel Riera: Future Flutist with Electric Ensemble, Thursday, October 4, 12:30-1:30 pm
  • Rice Kings, Thursday, October 11, 12:30-1:30 pm
  • Poetic Tuesdays with Litquake, Tuesday, October 16, 12:30-1:30 pm

Children’s Garden Series

Yerba Buena Children’s Garden is located at Howard & Fourth Streets. Two performances each day: 11-11:30 am and 12:15-12:45 pm, except Circus Bella and Halloween Hoopla.

  • Non Stop Bhangra, Friday, June 1
  • Māhealani Uchiyama, Friday, June 8
  • Parangal Dance Company, Friday, June 15
  • Circus Bella, Friday, June 22, 12-1 pm; Saturday, June 23, 12-1 pm & 2:15-3:15 pm, Yerba Buena Gardens Esplanade
  • Unique Derique, Friday, June 29
  • Caterpillar Puppets, Friday, July 6
  • Chelle! & Friends, Friday, July 13
  • Pi Clowns, Friday, July 20
  • Alphabet Rockers, Friday, July 27
  • Red Panda Acrobats, Friday, August 3
  • Venezuelan Music Project, Friday, August 17
  • Crosspulse, Friday, August 24
  • Ka-Hon, Friday, August 31
  • 18th Annual Halloween Hoopla, Sunday, October 28, Noon-2pm