Things We're Excited About This Winter in San Francisco
There are plenty of events, exhibits and festivals in San Francisco that are worthy of a save-the-date on your calendar. While it’s tough to narrow down the list, make sure to save a spot for these can’t-miss fall and winter happenings.
Must-See Art Exhibitions
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) presents “SOFT POWER,” an expansive exhibition that showcases how artists explore their roles as citizens and influence the world (Oct. 26, 2019 – Feb. 17, 2020). Richard Mosse’s vivid and poignant “Incoming” (Oct. 26, 2019 – Feb. 17, 2020) features photography and an immersive video installation documenting the mass migration and displacement of people across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.
“Matt Mullican: Between Sign and Subject” appears in the de Young Museum's atrium through Jan. 26, 2020. The eclectic exhibition comprises 50 of Mullican’s works, including paintings, drawings, light boxes, found objects, comics and charts. Witness a powerful presentation highlighting the institutionalized racism and prejudice that has pervaded America for centuries in the internationally acclaimed exhibition “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963 – 1983” (at the de Young, Nov. 9, 2019 – March 15, 2020).
At the Legion of Honor, check out "A Gothic Tale" through April 20, 2020. The new film and installation by Alexandre Singh draws inspiration from the literary tradition of 19th century Europe as well as San Francisco’s place in film noir history. The exhibition premieres Singh’s debut short film, "The Appointment," a mystery thriller of doubling and mistaken identity.
Through Dec. 8, 2019, the Asian Art Museum features “Changing and Unchanging Things: Noguchi and Hasegawa in Postwar Japan,” which explores the friendship of two artists in search of a new direction for modern art after World War II. Dive into history with “Lost at Sea: Art Recovered from Shipwrecks,” Nov. 26, 2019 – March 22, 2020, also at the Asian Art Musem.
Day of the Dead Procession and Festival of Altars
Celebrated in the Mission District for more than 30 years, Dia de Los Muertos brings the community together to honor ancestors and loved ones who have passed away. Along with food, art and live performances, the holiday is commemorated with a Ritual Procession (Nov. 2, 2019) that starts at 24th and Bryant streets and ends in Garfield Park, where public altars are decorated with flowers, candles and other remembrances.
The days may be shorter, but the city is an especially bright place to be from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, when the Illuminate SF Festival of Light shines across several neighborhoods, including North Beach, SoMa and Civic Center. More than three dozen installations by both local and international artists come to life at dusk each night, making for an illuminating adventure. Find out more about Illuminate SF's newest light art installations.
The Nuttiest Nutcracker
In one of the city’s most fun and freewheeling annual holiday traditions, the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band selects a wacky theme to blend with Tchaikovsky’s classic “Nutcracker Suite.” The result is a participatory production where everyone’s invited to join the talented cast in channeling their inner prima ballerina. Watch for the large flashing “Dance-Along” sign as your cue to toss on your tutu, scurry to the dance floor and pirouette beneath the spotlights throughout the delightfully unorthodox version of “The Nutcracker.” This casual, joyful and inclusive show takes place Dec. 7 and 8, 2019 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
Sketch, improv, stand-up and alternative comedy are all on the docket for SF Sketchfest, Jan. 9 – 26, 2020. The renowned festival features a diverse mix of local favorites, up-and-comers and national headliners. In fact, performers from hit shows like “Saturday Night Live,” “Arrested Development” and “Veep” have all appeared in years past. Tributes and panel discussions round out the schedule, offering a rare opportunity to see so many comedic talents in one place.
Eat, Drink and Be Merry
Celebrate the city’s world-class culinary scene during SF Restaurant Week in January 2020 (2020 dates and participating restaurants TBD), when nearly 130 restaurants offer prix fixe menus to delight diners at a fantastic price point. Whether you choose a two-course lunch or three-course dinner; discover a new hot spot or revisit a perpetual favorite; or make one reservation or seven — we won’t judge — it’s a delicious opportunity you won’t want to pass up.
The 12th Annual SF Beer Week hits San Francisco from Feb. 7 – 16, 2020, with hundreds of beer-focused events across the city and beyond. Founded to highlight America's home of craft beer, SF Beer Week has become an annual tradition for the Bay Area's extensive network of brewers and enthusiasts. If you’re not lucky enough to be here for SF Beer Week, don’t despair. These breweries are worth a stop at all year long.
Hungry for more? Learn all about San Francisco’s food and drink scene in the San Francisco Culinary Guide.
The Great Outdoors
The weather cools down a bit in the Bay Area at this time of year, but the year-round mild climate means you can still get outside and enjoy the surrounding natural beauty. In fact, this can be a particularly lovely season to go for a hike or bike ride, with the fog lifting to show off clear views and rain turning the hillsides green. 2020 marks the 150th birthday of Golden Gate Park, so it’s the perfect time to celebrate by experiencing its miles of lush lawns, gardens and lakes. Rent a bike to weave your way through the tree-lined roads and take in the many spectacular vistas. In the Presidio, you can stroll along the Promenade Trail, a leisurely loop featuring lots of historical points of interest and Golden Gate Bridge photo ops. Just 15 minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands, Mt. Tamalpais' summit rises almost straight up from sea level and offers 360-degree views of the Bay Area. The park has numerous parking areas, trailheads, scenic overlooks and two drive-in picnic areas.