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Arts & Entertainment

Barbecue, blues, books—and a century-old footrace? 5 free festivals in San Francisco this weekend

Accordion players will perform “That’s Amore” as a finale to Festa Italiana on June 4 in San Francisco. | Courtesy Gina Travaglio

1. Festa Italiana and Statuto Race in North Beach

🗓️ Saturday -Sunday
🕔 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
📍 Stockton Street between Union and Filbert streets

Let the smell of freshly sauced pasta and the reedy sounds of accordions lead you to Festa Italiana, San Francisco’s annual celebration of Italian food, music and culture in the historic North Beach neighborhood. If you didn’t know, the accordion is actually San Francisco’s official instrument, and in a first for the city, a symphony of accordion “squeezers” will take the festival spotlight on Sunday. To add to the fun, watch the 102nd annual “Statuto” footrace, which commemorates the creation of the first Italian Constitution and overlaps with Festa Italiana, also on Sunday.

2. Union Street Festival in Cow Hollow

🗓️ Saturday-Sunday
🕔 11 a.m.-7 p.m. (Saturday), 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (Sunday)
📍 Union Street between Fillmore and Octavia streets

Though you might not know it from all the recent fog, summer is coming quickly, and Cow Hollow’s annual Union Street Festival is back to kick off its 45th year. After meandering about the festival’s booths, you can visit one of San Francisco’s three historic Octagon Houses–this landmark located at Union and Gough streets being the only one that allows the public to tour its interior. Visiting hours are otherwise limited to twice monthly, so having the opportunity to tour it on both days of the festival is a true treat. 

3. Book Sale Block Party in Potrero Hill 

🗓️ Saturday
🕔 Noon-5 p.m.

📍 Friends of the San Francisco Public Library

Bookworms are sure to be in heaven at this literary-inspired block party. Stop by this event to pick up a new novel, or perhaps to browse the selection of comics, vinyl and other media that will be for sale as well. The afternoon of family-friendly entertainment will include an appearance from the San Francisco Public Library Bookmobile, a live DJ and author talks–including a reading from Lol Tolhurst, an author, musician and previous member of the band the Cure.

4. Art Walk SF in Balboa Village

🗓️ Saturday
🕔 Noon-5 p.m.
📍 Balboa Street between 35th and 39th avenues

Aiming to show off the small businesses and makers that fill San Francisco with art, music and food, Art Walk SF shines the spotlight on a different neighborhood each month for the duration of its spring-to-fall programming. This Saturday, the event is taking over Balboa Village in the Outer Richmond. Three stages across four blocks will fill the neighborhood with good vibes and good music, and many participating vendors and businesses will have special discounts for the occasion.

5. Summer Fest Kick-Off: Grillin’ in the Mo’ in the Fillmore

🗓️ Saturday
🕔 Noon-6 p.m.
📍 Hamilton Recreation Center

Head to the Fillmore on Saturday for the neighborhood’s annual summer kickoff with an afternoon of barbecue and live blues music—main acts including BlackCat Zydeco and Tia Carroll. Families are encouraged to attend, as there will be a plethora of activities for little ones, too, like face-painting, free ice cream and games.