A picnic lunch, free live world-class music, and perhaps a drop or two of wine. Sound like a wonderful way to spend this Father’s Day, or any other day? This summer, just like the last 72 summers, free concerts in the park are a regular Sunday occurrence in San Francisco. The Stern Grove Festival is in its 73rd year entertaining locals with world music variety and regular appearances by the San Francisco Symphony, Ballet, and Opera. It gets underway this weekend with performances by African songstress Angelique Kidjo and latin reggae star Sarazino. The remainder of the schedule is available here.
Sigmund Stern Recreation Grove, referred to as “the Grove” by locals, rebuilt its aging concert pavilion around the turn of the millennium, and as a setting for outdoor live music it is now unparalleled in The City. Morning fog that typifies the Sunset district usually burns off by showtime (2pm), and the natural amphitheater acoustics of the Grove mean that even the overflow crowds up the hill and in the adjacent meadow can hear just fine (though they can’t see through the trees).
The local’s advice: Arrive early, around 11 or 11:30, especially if the weather is nice. Pack a sweatshirt, a blanket (to sit on), and a picnic lunch (wine and champagne are the preferred drinks of this crowd, casually playing the part of globally-conscious cosmopolitanites). Take public transit (The 23 and 28 Muni bus lines go right to the grove’s main entrance, and the K and M streetcar lines drop you within walking distance, or you can hop off and wait for a passing 23), or designate a driver and carpool, parking in the surrounding neighborhoods could put you a good 15 minute walk from the Grove.