Amazing Cultural Events for a San Francisco Summer Night
San Francisco has plenty to offer visitors after dark: world-class theater, stunning operas, legendary concert venues, outdoor music festivals, after-hours museum events and plenty of other nightlife. Check out the list below of cultural events this season you won’t want to miss.
Theater and Performances
San Francisco’s theater scene is always hot and this summer is no exception. Spend an evening enjoying everything from Broadway musicals to Tony-award winning plays to bold new works celebrating diversity. This season’s highlights include "The Color Purple" (through May 27), "School of Rock" (June 27- July 22), "Les Miserables" (Aug. 8-26) and "Phantom of the Opera" (Sept. 5-30) at the SHN Orpheum. The powerful Civil War-era "Father Comes Home from the Wars" (through May 20) and a new musical version of "A Walk on the Moon" (June 6-July 1) top the bill at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater. Lighthearted comedy brightens the stage of the New Conservatory Theater Company with "The Mystery of Love and Sex" (through May 20) and "When Pigs Fly" (through June 10). The Curran premieres "Soft Power" (June 20-28), a contemporary East-meets-West musical comedy.
For a truly epic experience, head to the San Francisco Opera for "The Ring," Richard Wagner’s four-part series covering the birth of nature, the fall of gods and the dawn of a new age. This series can be seen in individual parts, or catch the full four-part cycle the weeks of June 12-17, June 19-24 or June 26-July 1.
From May to October, music festivals abound in San Francisco. Enjoy sunset performances among a lush grove of trees at the Stern Grove Festival. Admission-free since 1938, this local favorite features concerts from top name performers every Sunday from June 17 to Aug. 19. The San Francisco Jazz Festival is another can’t-miss event. Widely considered one of the biggest and best jazz events in the world, this June festival offers legendary masters along with groundbreaking newcomers. Or, experience a weekend in Golden Gate Park with Outside Lands (Aug. 10-12), featuring the biggest names in indie, rock, hip hop, comedy and more.
Whether you’re into rock, indie, jazz or blues, find your groove at one of San Francisco’s legendary concert venues. Catch a wide array of contemporary artists at the historic Fillmore, an iconic venue that was put on the map in the mid-‘60s. (Be sure to check out the extensive collection of vintage psychedelic posters on the second floor.) Classical music fans will have the chance to see the legendary violinist and conductor Itzhak Pearlman at Davies Symphony Hall (May 17-20). Or, enjoy the original "Star Wars" trilogy with live accompaniment from the San Francisco Symphony (July 19-21). For an evening of blues music and Southern food, head to Biscuits & Blues, voted America’s #1 blues nightclub by the Blues Foundation.
Museums After Hours
World-class aquariums, interactive science exhibits and some of the country’s most diverse art collections make San Francisco museums a must during the day for any visitor. But after dark, they turn into some of the hottest spots for a night out. Head over to the Asian Art Museum, California Academy of Sciences, Exploratorium and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on Thursdays. With nighttime programming including craft cocktails, live bands, DJs and cutting-edge lectures — plus the added fun of exploring the museums after hours — you won’t want to miss a summer evening at a San Francisco museum. From Sept. 21-Nov. 23, Friday Nights at the de Young return. Travel the world of "Contemporary Muslim Fashion" with discounted tickets to the exhibition, a social media lounge and vibes from around the Muslim world every Friday night, 6-8:30 p.m.
Whether you’re looking for a night of dancing to top DJs or a relaxed evening at an urban winery, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy the city after dark. San Francisco is fast becoming one of the top DJ scenes in the world. If you like creative, energetic events focused more on substance than style, you’ll want to check out one of the city’s many new nightclubs. August Hall & Fifth Arrow opened this spring on Mason Street and features two businesses in one: a concert venue with multiple bars on the mezzanine level and a restaurant and gaming parlor/bowling alley below. DNA Lounge, located in SoMa, has been voted "Best Dance Club" in San Francisco every year since 2008. With four rooms playing different music, massive sound systems and a diverse roster of events, it's a fun stop during an evening out on the town.
For a quiet evening, experience wine country in the city at one of San Francisco’s many urban wineries. JAX Vineyards is located just a few blocks from AT&T Park and features a popular happy hour Wednesday through Friday. Or, head to Woods Island Club where you can enjoy beer and beach vibes on the shores of Treasure Island.