With an endless list of festivals happening in August, we have selected a handful of can’t-miss events in Northern California. From San Jose to Sacramento, you are guaranteed fun all summer along the Capitol Corridor!
Fremont Festival of the Arts: Saturday, 8/4 – Sunday, 8/5, Fremont
Happening: 10am – 6pm
Head over to the largest free outdoor street festival this side of the Mississippi at the Fremont Festival of the Arts. Covering four walking miles, the festival will feature more than 700 top-quality artisan booths offering unique, one-of-a-kind pieces – from paintings and drawings, to jewelry and clothing and household decorations and furnishing – all handmade, delighting the most selective shoppers. With music playing continuously on three stages, festival-goers of all ages can take part in a wide range of activities such as henna tattoos, face painting, balloon animals, psychic readings, and a Gourmet Marketplace; with specialties ranging from unique rubs, spice blends and marinades, to designer oils, vinegars, and flavorful chutneys and relishes. The event will be held in Downtown Fremont, along Paseo Padre Parkway and nearby streets.
Getting there: Take the Capitol Corridor to the Richmond Station or Oakland Coliseum Station, connect to BART, and get off at the Fremont Station. The festival is within walking distance of the station or can be accessed by VTA, with a free Transit Transfer.
San Jose Jazz Summer Fest: Saturday, 8/10 – Sunday, 8/12, San Jose
Happening: 10am – 12pm
Get ready to dance away the summer heat and head over to San Jose for some swinging sounds of jazz at the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest. Featuring more than 120 performances on 12 stages over three days, the festival will showcase jazz, blues, funk, R&B, salsa, world, and related genres. This year’s lineup will include some big names in R&B, including Kool and the Gang and ConFunkShun, as well as the traditional sounds of Changüi Majadero; the modern timba styling of Rumbankete, and the Stage’s titular salsa. San Jose Jazz Summer Fest is nationally recognized as one of the biggest Latin festivals in the country. General Admission is $55 in advance or $70 at the gate. All Stages, including all indoor venues except the Music Lounge, is $90 in advance and $110 at the gate; Priority Access (skip-the-line privileges, access to the Music Lounge, and more) is $220 in advance and $240 at the gate; Single day tickets are $15 for General Admission to $175 for VIP.
Getting there: Take the train to the San Jose-Diridon Station. The festival is located in the Plaza de Cesar Chavez Park in downtown San Jose, only a short ride on VTA, with a free Transit Transfer from the Capitol Corridor.
Banana Festival: Saturday, Saturday, 8/11 – Sunday, 8/12, Sacramento
Happening: 10am – 7pm; Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Join the fun at the Sacramento Banana Festival celebrating this year’s theme “Jazz-A-Peel”. This unique event is a family-friendly, multicultural celebration of the diverse cultures and global societies that derive cuisine, art, and other benefits from the fruit of the banana tree. Held at William Land Park near Sutterville Road, the festival will feature banana cuisine from the Caribbean, Central America, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Africa, and Pacific Rim, along with live entertainment on two stages; a chefs’ challenge and cooking demonstrations; a fashion show; art exhibits; interactive hula hooping and hip hop stations, community line dancing and salsa lessons, as well as a crafts and vendor bazaar. The kids will go bananas for the arts and crafts, face-painting, storytelling, banana split-eating contest, bounce houses, carnival rides, and more. Needless to say, hundreds of free bananas will be given away to festival-goers! The Sacramento Banana Festival benefits the National Academic Youth Corps, which provides art and educational programs for over 15,000 youth and adults every year in Sacramento, as well as over a dozen other worthy local charities. General admission is $8 in advance online or $10 at the gate; free for children age 5 and under.
Polk Street Blues Festival: Saturday, 8/18 – Sunday, 8/19, San Francisco
Happening: 10am – 6pm
Spend a memorable weekend in a warm, friendly neighborhood atmosphere filled with authentic blues music at the Polk Street Blues Festival in San Francisco. This two-day event will showcase some of the best blues musicians on two main stages on San Francisco’s lively Polk Street. Peruse a merchant marketplace, community booths, hands-on kids activities, chalk art with a blues theme, arts and crafts, and even a farmer’s market. For hungry festival-goers, there will be food booths offering a variety of concessions, including BBQ oysters, catfish & chips, smoked turkey legs, tri-tip sandwiches, chicken kabobs, corn dogs, Saigon spring rolls, Thai kebob, craft beer, and fine wine tasting at bistro-style seating areas. Located on the west side of upscale Nob and Russian Hills, Polk Street runs from Ghirardelli Square south to Market Street near City Hall and the Civic Center.
Getting there: Take the Capitol Corridor to the Richmond Station or Oakland Coliseum Station, connect to BART to downtown San Francisco, and get off at the Montgomery Station, which is less than a mile from the festival. (CHECK THIS BECAUSE DEPENDS ON WHERE ALONG POLK ST). From here, you can walk, take Muni, catch a cab, take Lyft or Uber.
Silicon Valley Pride: Saturday, 8/25 – Sunday, 8/26, San Jose
Happening: Saturday, August 25, 12pm – 6pm; 6pm to 11pm. Sunday, August 26 10am to 6pm
Join in the fun and celebrate the LGBTQ Silicon Valley community at the 43rd Silicon Valley Pride. This year’s theme will be “Unity, Diversity and Strength,” opening with a Transgender and Non-Binary focus rally at the Plaza de Cesar Chavez. In addition to speakers and performers from the community, a fantasy-themed night festival will be held in the evening exploring four worlds — Under the Sea, Enchanted Forest, Good versus Evil (Heaven and Hell), and Space Odyssey. On Sunday, enjoy a parade with dance performers, local artists, and live music along Market Street from Julian Street and ending at the main entrance. The festival will also feature a Family Garden, kids area with the San Jose Public Library Maker Spaceship Bus, Drag Queen Story Time, beauty stations, a High-Tech Pavilion, a cocktail lounge, and array of food vendors. Tickets are available at the door for $5 per day.
Chocolate and Chalk Art Festival: Saturday, 8/25, Berkeley
Happening: 10am – 5pm
Enjoy a summery Saturday creating chalk art while eating chocolates in Berkeley at the Chocolate and Chalk Art Festival. In North Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto, along the sidewalks of Shattuck Avenue, artists young and old will compete in a chalk art contest, with cash prizes and gift certificates from Books, Inc. for the runners-up. Artists can register to participate in the contest for free at any event booth, and they will be assigned an area of the sidewalk to create their own fanciful chalk drawings. Chalk is available for $10, or you can bring your own. Between chalk and chocolate, artists and non-artists alike will have the opportunity to check out the festival’s live entertainment, vendor booths, and beer and wine offerings at the Vine Street Stage. The to-go menu features over 20 unique chocolate-themed items including picante habañero chocolate gelato, chocolate profiteroles, dark chocolate truffles, Oreo shakes, or savory menu items such as Caribbean chocolate soup and chocolate chicken tikka kabobs.
Written by Sylvia Sheehan