- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals San Francisco Guide (PDF)
San Francisco’s diversity and eccentricity have at times influenced culture around the world, and the city's unique attributes are reflected in its diverse and exciting events calendar.
Residents get to enjoy a variety of festivals that celebrate the city’s history and character. From beer and wine festivals to marathons and parades, new arrivals will be spoilt for choice.
Annual events in San Francisco
SF Beer Week (February)
This festival showcases San Francisco's craft beer scene with hundreds of events over 10 days each February. Brew-loving newcomers will be in beer heaven, but even those who don’t know the difference between pale ale and dunkel will find something to delight in. Festival-goers can also enjoy gourmet events that sample some of the best food in San Francisco, meet the best brewers in the Bay Area, and can even attend home-1brewing demonstrations.
San Francisco International Film Festival (April)
The longest-running film festival in the US, the San Francisco International Film Festival hosts around 200 films from 50 countries each year. Attendees get to enjoy some of the best new films from around the globe in an exciting setting.
Bay to Breakers (May)
Part-fundraiser, part-marathon and part-celebration, the Bay to Breakers footrace has been a San Francisco institution since 1912. From serious athletes to costumed casuals, runners of all kinds can join in on the fun. Participants are cheered on by spectators, with the race concluding at Ocean Beach and the Finish Line Festival.
San Francisco Pride Parade (June)
One of the wildest and friendliest on the planet, the San Francisco Pride Parade follows a week of celebrations. The colourful contingent struts down Market Street to the cheers of the thousands of onlookers who gather to witness the event every year.
Fourth of July Celebration at the Pier (July)
Every year on Independence Day, city residents gather on Pier 39 to enjoy an evening of food, fireworks and live entertainment. There is no better way to experience this most American of holidays in the city.
Union Square Tree Lighting (November)
Christmas cheer abounds during this event, with plenty of entertainment on offer, including live performances and holiday shopping. The festivities culminate with the lighting of a giant Christmas tree in the centre of Union Square, a decades-old tradition.
►For more entertainment ideas, see Lifestyle in San Francisco
"I love the variety of things to do and see in San Francisco. On any day of the week there are so many things that I could get out to (if I had the money) – music, food trucks, comedy, great restaurants, lectures, festivals, fairs, free shows in parks – there really is never 'nothing to do'. But to be honest, if you're moving from Sydney and want to go somewhere that feels like home, California should be first on your list. The climate is practically the same (apart from Karl The Fog) and the people are lovely."
Read more about Aussie expat Katherine's experiences in San Francisco.
Are you an expat living in San Francisco?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to San Francisco. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
Cigna Global can tailor an international health insurance plan to perfectly fit the needs of you and your family. With 86 million customers in over 200 countries, Cigna Global has unrivalled experience in dealing with varied and unique medical situations and delivering high standards of service wherever you live in the world. Cigna are offering a 10% discount on all policies bought in November and December.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.