May marks the start of San Francisco’s street fair season, when we begin loitering outside in earnest. Bay to Breakers means that it’s costume time again. The month finishes with San Francisco’s most effervescent and colorful outdoor festival, Carnaval. See our separate 2013 Memorial Day guide for programs and ceremonies honoring Americans who have died while serving in the military.MAY EVENTS
San Francisco International Film Festival
Continuing through May 9
Some 200 films and events, including the opening night drama What Maisie Knew, starring Julianne Moore, and closing night’s Before Midnight. Inventor Ray Dolby of Dolby Laboratories is among the film industry honorees, and director Steven Soderbergh (sex, lies, and videotape; Magic Mike) delivers the festival’s annual “state of cinema” address.
At various venues in San Francisco and Berkeley. Ticket prices vary.
San Francisco Decorator Showcase
Continuing through May 26, Tuesdays through Sundays; and May 27
Herbst Manor, a Georgian mansion in Pacific Heights built in 1899, gets a make-over from two dozen interior and landscape designers. Oooh and aahhh over the furnishings, décor, the penthouse with wrap-around terrace and the views. Benefits the financial aid program of the private San Francisco University High School.
At 2800 Pacific Ave., San Francisco. Tickets $25, 30.
Cinco de Mayo Festival
May 4, at 10 am-6 pm
A day of Mexican and Latin American cultures, with mariachi music, ballet folklorico, Latin jazz, salsa bands and a zumba session.
At Dolores Park. Free.
Bike to Work Day
Ditch the car. Join a morning convoy to pedal from your ‘hood to City Hall or even Mountain View, organized by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. During the morning and evening commutes, 26 pit stops around town are stocked with free snacks and beverages and bike mechanics who’ll check your wheels.
Wines of Portugal Grand Tasting
May 9, at 5:30-8 pm
At this annual mega-tasting that showcases the range of Portugal's wines, the challenge is to sip more than 100 different wines from dozens of wineries--accompanied by Portuguese-inspired appetizers.
At Bently Reserve, 301 Battery St., San Francisco 94111. Tickets $75.
Oakland Internet Cat Video Festival
May 11, at 3-10 pm
Apparently it's not enough that cat videos go viral. Nope, we need a festival to collectively revel in them. The Internet's best cat vids, compiled into a 70-minute film, will be shown on a 100-foot tall wall. Feline fans can also come dressed for a cat-ish costume contest, work on "cativities" (cat-themed art activities), adopt a kitten and shop for cat-related products. Entertainment includes live bands, an aerial dance troupe, excerpts from the musical Cats! and catty performers. Proceeds benefit the East Bay SPCA.
At the Great Wall of Oakland, Broadway and West Grand Ave., Oakland 94612. Tickets: $5, 10, 15, 75.
Small Business Week
San Francisco (and other U.S. cities) focus on the little businesspeople this week, offering advice on best practices and new technology, leads and networking opportunities. Free workshops on May 15 cover branding, financing, management and other topics. Many neighborhoods host sidewalk sales on May 11 and 18.
At various venues in San Francisco. Most events free.
artMRKT San Francisco
Seventy galleries from around the U.S. and the world gather under one roof to display contemporary art. The fair also includes installations that incorporate light, sound and Twitter feeds, and discussions about David Hockney, Richard Diebenkorn, Gordon Parks and artists’ use of digital technology. The May 16 opening night preview benefits the de Young and Legion of Honor.
At Fort Mason Center, Festival Pavilion, Marina Blvd., San Francisco 94123. Tickets: $20, 35, 150.
The Phoenix Hotel transforms into an arts center. In the rooms and in and around the pool, find modern and emerging art exhibited by 40 galleries, art tours and talks, installations, video art and performances. The opening night preview on May 16 benefits the SFMOMA SECA (Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art) Award program.
At the Phoenix Hotel, 601 Eddy St., San Francisco 94122. Tickets $15-125.
San Francisco A Tavola
SF celebrates Jaime Oliver’s Food Revolution Day with a weekend of Italian food--appearing at a mixer, a potluck, a benefit dinner directed by Viola Buitoni, and a cooking demo. Or do your own thing: Cook a meal with friends and family and share photos or video of it online. The British chef started Food Revolution Day to encourage people to cook and to love fresh food.
At various venues in San Francisco. Ticket prices vary.
Asian Heritage Street Celebration
May 18, at 11 am-6 pm
This festival to mark Asian Pacific American heritage month includes bands, DJs and taiko drumming; a parade; a car show and a fashion show; health screenings; a kids’ area; community and nonprofit groups, arts and crafts and food at booths; and Asian cooking demos by Martin Yan and other chefs. Admission to the Asian Art Museum is free.
At Civic Center and on Larkin between Grove and Ellis streets. Free.
May 18 & 19
Paradise for tinkerers and DIYers. Ogle and test home-made musical instruments, rockets, quadcopters, mutant vehicles, flying machines and all sorts of robots. Learn how to make cheese and vinegar and butcher a lamb.
At San Mateo County Event Center, 1346 Saratoga Dr., San Mateo 94403. Ticket prices vary.
Bay to Breakers
May 19, at 7 am-12 pm
A truly only-in-San-Francisco event, this 102-year-old tradition is a 12K fun run dressed up as a zany costume contest and block party. (To the seeded few, it’s a serious road race). As in previous years, floats, anything with wheels (e.g., shopping carts, roller blades, skateboards, bikes), alcohol, pets and unregistered runners are not allowed on the race course; because of the Boston Marathon bombings, backpacks and any bag, container or carrier larger than a ream of paper are also banned from the course.
Treasure Island Flea
May 25 & 26, at 10 am–4 pm
The open-air flea market (that refuses to put “market” in its name) celebrates its second birthday with games, magic and hula hoop performances, free appraisals of your treasures, DIY workshops, give-aways, a wine garden and food trucks. And, of course, many Bay Area artisans and vendors offering new and vintage clothing and accessories, antiques, specialty foods, home décor items and other miscellany.
At Avenue of the Palms, Treasure Island. Admission free-$3. Free parking.
San Francisco Carnaval
May 25 & 26, at 10 am-6 pm
The two-day explosion of Latin American and Caribbean cultures includes dancing galore (samba, tango, salsa and cumbia, to name just a few varieties), drumming, music, food, an art expo, children’s activities and health screenings. On May 26, the popular Carnaval Grand Parade takes off at 9:30 am from 24th and Bryant and prances west to Mission Street, then to 17th Street, and then east to the festival area.
On Harrison between 16th and 24th streets. Free.
San Francisco Ballet School’s Student Showcase
May 29 & 31, at 7:30 pm; May 30, at 6 pm
See a full range of dancers in training, from beginning students demonstrating class exercises to advanced students performing pieces by Marius Petipa, Christopher Wheeldon and faculty members.
At Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 700 Howard St., San Francisco. Tickets $35 and up.
International Grand Prix Meet
May 30-June 2
The nation's top swimmers compete in the final leg of this series of swim meets. Olympic medalists Janet Evans and Aaron Peirsol are scheduled to attend on June 2 and give a talk to young local swimmers and their parents.
At George F. Haines International Swim Center, 969 Kiely Boulevard, Santa Clara 95051. Ticket prices vary.
San Francisco Green Film Festival
May 30-June 5
More than four dozen films about environmental crises and activists who are doing something about them, in the Bay Area and beyond.
At various venues in San Francisco & Berkeley. Tickets: $12.