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Murakami monsters, new Sunset Night Market: This weekend in San Francisco

"Takashi Murakami: Unfamiliar People—Swelling of Monsterized Human Ego," the Japanese artist's first solo show in the Bay Area, opens on Friday. | Source: Morgan Ellis/The Standard

San Francisco is positively packed with celebrations this weekend. Catch the new monster-infested exhibition at the Asian Art Museum before feasting on classic Greek dishes at a three-day-long celebration of Greek food and culture. This weekend’s events highlight San Francisco’s pride in its food, art and local culture–read on to see how else you can make the most of it.

1. Greek Food Festival in the Mission 

🗓️ Friday-Sunday | Noon-10 p.m. (Friday-Saturday), noon-8 p.m. (Sunday)
📍 Annunciation Cathedral
🔗 annunciation.org

Enjoy three days worth of spanakopita, moussaka and gyros this weekend at the annual Greek Food Festival—the decades-old celebration is much more than food, though. Newly rebranded as “A Journey of Greek Culture,” the festival will be just that, with a schedule of joyous live entertainment. Modern and classic Greek music and performances from award-winning folk dance groups will keep the party going and complete the immersive (and tasty!) weekend. 

2. Takashi Murakami Exhibition Opens in Civic Center

🗓️ Friday | All day
📍 Asian Art Museum
🔗 exhibitions.asianart.org
🎟️ $29-$35

In a first for San Francisco, Japanese artist Takashi Murakami is bringing his smiley flowers to the Asian Art Museum for a solo exhibition titled “Takashi Murakami: Unfamiliar People—Swelling of Monsterized Human Ego,” opening on Friday and running until February 2024. Murakami has collaborated with countless household pop culture names, from Louis Vuitton to Billie Eilish and Pharrell Williams, extending the reach of his artistic influence into the global worlds of fashion and entertainment.

Often known for his bright and bubbly work, Murakami is now putting monsters in the spotlight at the Asian Art Museum, complete with his signature technicolor twist. The show features 12 never-before-seen pieces reflecting post-pandemic anxiety and the inner demons that humankind wrestles with in an increasingly digital age. 

Timed tickets for the special exhibition must be purchased separately, but they include general admission to the rest of the museum. 

3. Night Market in the Sunset

🗓️ Friday | 5-10 p.m.
📍 Irving Street between 20th and 23rd avenues
🔗 sunsetmercantilesf.com

Akin to a moonlit delight you could experience in countries across Asia, vendors will be doling out plates of sizzling fried noodles, skewers of charred meats and plenty of other handheld treats at the debut Sunset Night Market this Friday. Taking place on Irving Street between 20th and 23rd avenues, the event is the brainchild of the neighborhood’s supervisor, Joel Engardio, who was inspired by night markets he explored on a trip to Taiwan with his husband. 

The event is a push to draw people to the merchant corridors of the Sunset with the exciting nighttime makeover and eventually bring more regular night markets to the area in the future, pending this one’s success. This Friday, there will be over 70 vendors filling the street, ranging from food to retail to community partners and political organizations. Live entertainment for all ages is scheduled through the night, from a “dance zone” with live music and DJs to more family-friendly areas for adults with little ones in tow. 

4. Haight Ashbury Street Fair in the Haight

🗓️ Sunday | 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
📍 Haight Street between Masonic Avenue and Stanyan Street
🔗 haightashburystreetfair.org

Did you think you could retire your tie-dye after the Dead left town? Think again—the Haight-Ashbury Street Fair, a celebration of the Haight’s distinct impact on art, culture and politics dating back to the 1960s, is back for its 44th iteration this Sunday. Two stages will bookend the festival at Stanyan Street and Masonic Avenue, though the full musical lineup has yet to be announced. Meanwhile, dozens of food, retail and craft booths will fill in between the vintage stores and smoke shops characteristic of the neighborhood today. FTC, San Francisco’s oldest running skate shop, is also hosting a free skate jam and trick contest in partnership with Vans Skateboarding. 

READ MORE: $100 for a Used T-Shirt? How Haight Street’s Thrift Stores Have Changed

5. Comedy Day in Golden Gate Park 

🗓️ Sunday | Noon-5 p.m.
📍 Robin Williams Meadow, Golden Gate Park
🔗 comedyday.org

Your "Sunday Scaries" are no match for the legendary Comedy Day in Golden Gate Park. Debatably one of the most generous free events offered annually in the city, Comedy Day promises five free hours of laughs from 50 comedians–and better yet, it’s all on one stage, so you can park your picnic blanket once and be set for the day. This year’s lineup has yet to be solidified, but icons who have taken the stage in the past include Robin Williams (for whom the venue is named), Diane Amos, Mike Birbiglia and Dave Chappelle. 

Morgan Ellis can be reached at morgan@sfstandard.com