Memorial Day Weekend marks a time of remembrance in the San Francisco Bay Area and throughout the nation. This federal holiday commemorates the people who lost their lives while serving in the country’s armed forces. Traditional activities commemorating this event include visiting memorial sites and decorating cemeteries with flowers to honor veterans.
Since Memorial Day creates the first long weekend of the summer, festivities have branched out from the traditional varieties to include an assortment of festivals, activities, and events. If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area this Memorial Day Weekend, here are four awesome ways to celebrate the approach of summer and to also honor those who have lost their lives in military service.
Oakland’s East Lake Music Festival
Kick off the weekend with a free, all ages, outdoor music festival along the shore of Lake Merritt in Oakland. The motto of the East Lake Music Festival is that live music and performance arts shouldn’t be a luxury for the few, but rather accessible to the many.
Festival lead organizer Chang R. Yi explains, “They said there’s no profit in music anymore, so we took it out of the equation. We wanted to create something different and open, not for profit and therefore truly independent. It all started with one conversation and now, a thousand conversations later, here we are… one of the last independent music festivals left in the country.”
The festival promotes local and independent artists and has already become a vibrant staple in Oakland’s art and music scene with its annual Memorial Day Weekend event. One of the qualities often highlighted in Memorial Day celebrations is the importance of community, and that’s exactly what the East Lake Music Festival is all about. Performances run from 1pm to 9pm on Saturday May 28. More information can be found at eastlakemusicfestival.org
Concord’s Bay Area KidFest
Another all ages, family friendly festival is Concord’s 27th annual Bay Area KidFest. Held in downtown Concord each year on Memorial Day Weekend, this event is one of the longest running family friendly events in the Bay Area. The festival spans the entire three days of the weekend and includes a variety of activities that will entertain old and young alike.
Activities range from circus performances to skateboarding shows to face painting and more. A carnival complete with traditional rides and games will be in full swing on the grounds. A Memorial Day ceremony will also be held on Monday May 30 at noon to honor those who served in the country’s military service.
San Francisco’s Carnaval Parade
This is perhaps the most colorful festival San Francisco has all year. Festivities run both May 28 and 29, but the highlight of San Francisco’s 38th annual Carnaval Festival is the Sunday morning parade. Starting at 9:30am from the corner of 24th and Bryant Streets, a parade of music, feathers, flowers, dancing, and sequined costumes will shimmy its way through eight blocks in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood.
Renowned as the largest multicultural celebration on the West Coast, San Francisco’s Carnaval started in 1979 and has come to represent both a celebration of the local community and of world culture. It’s a vibrant event during the first long weekend of the summer and is a joyful prelude to the summer season that is just around the corner. Learn more at carnavalsanfrancisco.org.
Presidio Memorial Day Event
One of the largest Bay Area Memorial Day events takes place in the National Cemetery in the Presidio in San Francisco. The commemoration beings at 10:30am on Monday May 30 with a parade through the wooded grounds of the Presidio. Led by the 191st Army Band, the parade lasts 30 minutes and includes distinguished guests, veterans, and veterans organizations.
The formal program for the day begins at 11:00am and features speakers and Memorial Day commemorative activities. At noon the program ends with an official 21-gun salute to honor those who lost their lives in military service.
~Danielle Lazier :: SFhotlist and Keller Williams San Francisco