Summer Guide 2016

Festivals

Music in Menlo to garlic in Gilroy: months ahead are jam-packed with festivals.

Introduction | Concerts | Art | Stage | Movies | Sports | Festivals | Outdoors | Wineries

MEOW?: Boogie on the Avenue hits Campbell. Photo by Greg Ramar

Boogie on the Avenue | May 21-22
Downtown Campbell
Typically attracting about 50,000 people, this jazz-centric outdoor festival allows attendees to luxuriate in the sunshine, listen to local tunes and dig into some quality eats provided by dozens of vendors—the most famous of these being the Cajun specialists who concoct the best gumbo this side of the Mississippi. There's a Kiddie Korner, over 200 arts and business booths and a wide array of wine and beer. The two-day event features two stages headlined by hard rockers NRichN and twangy country singers Whiskey Pass. (JF)

Mushroom Mardi Gras | May 28-29
Tennant Station, Morgan Hill
In its 37th year of existence, this monumental tribute to mushrooms will stuff them, deep-fry them, marinate them and more. Once inspired, you can take home portabella, crimini and white mushrooms foraged from the forests of Santa Clara and Monterey counties. They've got other foods if fungus ain't your thing, and in between getting down on earthy grub visitors can view jugglers, jesters and Peter Pan who will be whipping up balloon animals. There'll be live music and students that will be awarded with scholarships—$800,000 worth has been given out since 1980. (JF)

Taco Festival of Innovation | May 28
Kelley Park, San Jose
The fifth annual Taco Festival of Innovation is pretty much what it sounds like: a whole lot of tacos, many of them filled with unconventional ingredients. The festival brings together 30 of the best taco makers from all over the Bay Area. Choices range from Vietnamese shrimp tacos to ice cream tacos and a myriad in between. Plus, there's plenty to drink and live music. (NV)

Electronic Sriracha Festival | May 29
History Park, San Jose
This local festival put San Jose on the hipster map. The inaugural ESF caught the attention of a snarky Vice writer, prompting an equally snarky Vice blog post. However, while skinny-jean wearing dilettantes in San Francisco and Brooklyn may have sneered, the festival was a hit. And why wouldn't it be? Sriracha makes just about every kind of food better. Turn out for an assortment of food trucks, DJ sets curated by Universal Grammar and plenty of beer. (NV)

San Jose's Subzero Festival | Jun 3-4
SoFA District, San Jose
Without a storied history or a super-dense arts scene, creatives in San Jose must exercise persistence. But this has resulted in an intense pride for the wack-a-doo fruits of labor that have formed the beginnings of the promising cultural future. Organized by Anno Domini's Cheri Lakey and Brian Eder, the festival expands upon the First Friday art walks, blowing out the festivities to celebrate the myriad subcultures within music, food and tech that represent the best of the local indie talent. (JF)

Hollister Independence Rally | Jul 1-3
San Benito St, Hollister
Beginning in 1947, this motorcycle extravaganza claims to have given rise to the iconic American Biker image and provided inspiration for the "The Wild One," a classic film with Brando as the lead. A pilgrimage to Hollister over Fourth of July weekend is a borderline religious experience for hard-core riders and weekend warriors alike. Along San Benito Street, gorgeous bikes sunbathe while vendors hawk anything even remotely related to hog-riding. The entertainment will be provided by cover bands playing hits by Journey, Santana and Lynyrd Skynyrd—plus an all-female ensemble jamming Led Zeppelin. (JF)

Menlo Summerfest | Jul 16-17
Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park
Formerly the Connoisseur's' Marketplace, the newly christened Menlo Summerfest descends upon downtown Menlo Park for two days this July—taking over Santa Cruz Avenue with 200 vendors and live music, including Tom Petty tribute band, Petty Theft. Also, plenty of food, a kids' zone and, of course, wine and beer. (NV)

Gilroy Garlic Festival | Jul 29-31
Monterey Road, Gilroy
The famous festival celebrates the many ways that the planet's best aromatic can be deployed in the culinary arts. The central spectacle is Gourmet Alley, a "gigantic outdoor kitchen" where skilled chefs will be flipping up garlic-smothered shrimp and calamari in huge iron skillets that produce a flame-show to boot. Chefs will also press the minced bulb into fresh fries, crunchy bread and mushrooms to highlight its versatility. There'll be live entertainment, cooking demonstrations and free samples of savory garlic ice cream. (JF)

Los Gatos Fiesta de Artes | Aug 13-14
Los Gatos Civic Center
The feline-named town's premier summer festival focuses on art and wine—a fine combination that reinforces the other's merits. There'll be over 150 vendors of handcrafted goods, a kid's zone and music by The Cocktail Monkeys and The Houserockers. All proceeds go to the Kiwanis club, which has been putting on the event for the last 20 years to raise funds for scholarships, senior care and public school improvement. (JF)

Festival of the Arts | Aug 27-28
University Avenue, Palo Alto
Held every year in late August, the Festival of the Arts brings people from all over the Bay Area to Palo Alto. Some of the Peninsula's best artists and artisans display their work and wares, and there is plenty of great food—both from street vendors and the world-class restaurants populating the tree-lined University Avenue. There's also plenty of live music and activities for youngsters. (NV) —John Flynn & Nick Veronin

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