Over the last decade, San Francisco has become known for its overwhelming tech scene–which is odd considering the city’s origins are deeply rooted in rock, jam and country. And although most aspiring musicians probably can’t afford to live in San Francisco anymore, at least they can still gather there for some of the most impressive and eclectic music festivals the nation has to offer. Check them out below.

Outside Lands

Perhaps the most recognizable of the San Francisco festivals is Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival. Outside Lands has been surprising and delighting the ears of Bay Area attendees since it began back in 2008. Held annually at Golden Gate Park, it is the largest independently owned music festival in the country and pulls in major artists from all genres (Paul Simon, Childish Gambino and Twenty One Pilots all headlined in 2019). It was also the first music festival to offer legal cannabis for sale, with the area being called “Grass Lands.” get outside lands tickets

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

Another Golden Gate Park-hosted affair, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is a free annual festival that pulls in the best in bluegrass, jazz, country and Americana music. The fest was founded in 2001 by San Francisco venture capitalist Warren Hellman, who subsidized the costs and vowed it would always remain a free and noncommercial event. Although its popularity has only grown over the years (it draws in a crowd equal to the entire population of SF), the event still remains free for its attendees. Frequent performers include Emmylou Harris, Earl Scruggs, T-Bone Burnett and Ricky Skaggs. get hardly strictly bluegrass tickets

Jerry Day

It’s not San Francisco if we’re not talking about Jerry Garcia. The guitarist, along with the rest of his Grateful Dead cohorts, helped shape the city’s 70s counter culture movement and ushered in a collective of hippies and free spirits to the Bay Area city. For the last 17 years, the organizers behind Jerry Day festival (located at the–you guessed it–Jerry Garcia Amphitheater) hold a day-long event to honor and celebrate the musician’s life. Past performers include Melvin Seals, Stu Allen and Mars Hotel. get jerry day tickets

Noise Pop Festival

It may be chilly outside, but inside the dozens of venues participating in the Noise Pop festival, it’s toasty with bodies and good vibrations. Since 1993, Noise Pop has been championing independent music and culture in SF by organizing this massive event. Hosted over seven days at various venues throughout the city–Starline Social Club, The New Parish, Swedish American Hall, to name a few–the massive roster of artists ranges from the known (Ben Gibbard, Raphael Saadiq) to the unknown, obscure to mainstream. get noise pop tickets

Crush San Francisco

If you love electronic dance music, chances are you’ve heard of Crush. Hosted by Insomniac events, this festival has events in SoCal, Arizona and San Francisco. Join your beau (or your bestie) over Valentine’s Day weekend for two days of dancing and DJs. This year’s edition will see ARMNHMR, Dr. Fresch, KSHMR and more all take the stage at the legendary Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. get crush tickets

San Francisco Music Festivals 2020

Festival Name Date
Crush San Francisco February 14-15
Noise Pop February 24-March 1
Fillmore Jazz Festival July 4-5
San Francisco Jazz Festival June 9-21
Stern Grove Festival June 14-August 16
Outside Lands August 7-9
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass October 2-4
How Weird Street Faire May 3
Yerba Buena Gardens Festival May 23
Union Street Music Festival May 30-31
Haight Ashbury Street Fair June 7
Jerry Day August 2
20th Street Block Party August 15
Carnaval San Francisco May 23

(Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash)