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Civic Center carnival, $4 movies: Have fun for $10 or less in San Francisco this weekend

On Wednesday, workers prepare rides for the Civic Center Carnival in San Francisco. | Source: Jeremy Chen/The Standard

Even though summer is coming to an end soon, the sun isn't letting up quite yet. If predictions are correct and this weekend proves to be clear, get out there and enjoy the beautiful weather by heading to McLaren Park for some live music or seeing what City Hall looks like from the top of a Ferris wheel. There are plenty of ways to make the most of the weekend, and we’ve pulled together a list of our favorite options for $10 or less. Read on for our full weekend guide.

1. Civic Center Carnival at U.N. Plaza

🗓️ Thursday-Sunday | 2:30-9:30 p.m. (Thursday-Friday), 12:30-9:30 p.m. (Saturday), noon-8 p.m. (Sunday)
📍 Fulton Street between the Main Library and the Asian Art Museum
🎟️ $10

A four-day carnival is popping up in San Francisco’s U.N. Plaza this weekend—one of the city’s latest ideas to revitalize struggling Downtown neighborhoods. According to Mayor London Breed, who announced the plan for the Civic Center Carnival in late July, vibrant public spaces for residents of all ages to enjoy are stepping stones toward safer communities. This event, which is expected to entertain as many as 1,000 people per day, will feature carnival staples like a Ferris wheel, a 100-foot slide and a fun house. You’ll be able to snack on classic treats—deep-fried or otherwise–like hand-dipped corn dogs, funnel cakes and cotton candy. Admission to the event requires a minimum $10 purchase for each attendee over 12, good toward games, rides or foods. 

2. Art Mini Mart in Lower Nob Hill 

🗓️ Friday-Saturday | 6-8 p.m. (Friday), 4-7 p.m. (Saturday)
📍 The Birdcage

Celebrate local creators and get crafty at a two-day pop-up art mini mart this Friday and Saturday. Different artists sell their work each evening, and a zine-making station will be available for the duration of the event. The event is free, though you can purchase an open-bar ticket for either or both nights.

3. Due South Show in McLaren Park

🗓️ Saturday | 2-6 p.m.
📍 Jerry Garcia Amphitheater

While Karl the Fog rests, make your way to McLaren Park to bask in the sunshine and catch the next Due South show. This week’s lineup includes alt-rock duo Momma and Oakland-born, rock and R&B fusion artist King Isis as openers. The headliner is Los Angeles-based indie rock group Cherry Glazerr. Though there is some bench seating, be sure to bring something cushy to sit on. The show is free and open to the public, but RSVP-ing is encouraged for added perks like the chance to win reserved seating and other prizes. 

4. Hungry Ghost Festival in Chinatown

🗓️ Saturday | 4-9 p.m.
📍 Chinatown-Rose Pak Station Upper Plaza, Portsmouth Square

The seventh month on the lunar calendar—usually falling in August—is known as “Ghost Month (鬼月),” a Chinese cultural tradition. During this time, it is believed that the border between living and spiritual realms grows thin, meaning restless souls and spirits will be visiting and moving freely amongst humans. San Francisco’s Chinese Culture Center is hosting the inaugural Hungry Ghost Festival in Chinatown this Saturday, featuring a “Ghost King Parade” followed by other entertainment. Through this evening steeped in ancient traditions, community members are invited to experience the history, rituals and joy associated with Ghost Month.

READ MORE: This Shop in San Francisco’s Chinatown Sells ‘Luxury’ Goods for the Dead

5. National Cinema Day All Over the City

🗓️ Sunday | All day
📍 Various locations

National Cinema Day is returning this Sunday to give moviegoers the chance to snag $4 tickets to films of their choice, including IMAX showings. The nonprofit the Cinema Foundation launched the holiday last year to boost movie theater attendance and excitement for the cinema industry. If you were patient enough to hold off on your “Barbenheimer” viewing, now is your chance to see it for less than $10. You could also catch movies brought back to the big screen for the occasion, like Greta Gerwig’s pre-Barbie hit, Lady Bird.