Castro Street Fair in San Francisco

castro street fair crowd

San Francisco is a city that’s hard to define; in fact, it’s a city of eclecticism and duality. It embraces its rich local culture while fostering a booming tourism industry. At one time a haven for artists, writers, and poets, the proximity of Silicon Valley has since drawn skilled tech professionals from around the world to the Bay Area. San Francisco is the city that’s at the head of global environmental initiatives, is named most gay-friendly tourist destination in the world by Lonely Planet, boasts the largest Chinatown outside of Asia, and has been voted the “most walkable” city in the U.S. You’ve seen pictures of the many San Francisco attractions that draw millions of visitors each year, from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Victorian “painted ladies” that line the streets. Now it’s time to see San Francisco for yourself!

Harvey Milk

Harvey Milk, the Castro Street Fair founder, in 1978.

There’s no better time to experience San Francisco than during the Castro Street Fair, which takes place the first Sunday in October every year. The day-long community street festival celebrates its 40th anniversary this year on October 6th, having come a long way since Harvey Milk (portrayed by Sean Penn in the highly acclaimed 2008 film, Milk) initiated in the fair in 1974. Harvey Milk was the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California, so it’s appropriate that the Castro Street Fair reflects the shining diversity and acceptance of the city.

From 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM, in the heart of San Francisco’s Castro District, hundreds of local artists, vendors, artisans, and organizations will fill the streets while musicians and performers take to the stage. Four main entertainment areas anchor the festival: the Main Stage, featuring talented progressive pop musicians and an award-winning drag show; Legends Stage, highlighting local DJs of national acclaim; Dance Alley, where house, electronic, and energized bass-heavy beats have everyone on their feet; and Castro Alley, where the Sundance Saloon Country Western Dance Stage is located. The Castro Fair will also host the 6th installment of Barnaby’s World of Wonderment, an interactive carnival featuring bawdy shows, twists on classic carnival games, and a slew of entertaining performers including clowns, jugglers, and acrobats. If you’re in San Francisco with your family, you may want to be aware that parts of this festival may be a bit too risqué for younger kids.

The Golden Gate Bridge is the San Francisco attraction that never disappoints.

The Golden Gate Bridge is the San Francisco attraction that never disappoints.

When you’ve had your fill of the fair, explore all the other unique and iconic San Francisco attractions in the area. Take an exhilarating bike tour of the Golden Gate Bridge, make your way around on classic cable car trolley tour, take the Escape from the Rock cruise out to Alcatraz Island, and enter the realm of discovery at the California Academy of Sciences—where the world’s largest all-digital planetarium and a four-story rain forest await you. San Francisco attractions are as diverse and innovative as the city they represent, so get out and GO!

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