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Stern Grove Festival: History and All You Need to Know!

  • Event Parking
  • Celine Jerly
  • 7 minutes

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San Francisco’s Sigmund Stern Grove, one of the city’s outdoor gems, has been filled with summer songs for 86 years. The Stern Grove Festival is a free concert series from June through August on Sunday afternoons. The 86th season starts on June 18 and will wrap up on August 20. Here’s all you need to know about the Stern Grove Festival 2023 – lineup, venue, getting there, and finding parking.

Stern Grove, officially known as the Sigmund Stern Recreation Grove, has a long and storied past. In 1931, Rosalie M. Stern donated 33 acres of land to San Francisco, including the Trocadero Roadhouse and the theater. The park would be a memorial to her husband, Sigmund, a business leader, philanthropist, and nephew of Levi Strauss. An early landmark of San Francisco, the Grove was part of the famous Trocadero Rancho, which dates back to the days of Mexican land grants.

The natural acoustics of Stern Grove makes it ideal for live music/dance or theater performances. The first concert at the Grove was by San Francisco Symphony in 1932. Mrs. Stern formed the non-profit Stern Grove Festival Association in 1938, stipulating that all Stern Grove concerts would be free to the public. She chaired the festival until she died in 1956 and was succeeded by her daughter and grandchildren. The festival is now led by the family’s 5th generation – Matthew Goldman has been the new chairperson since 2020. However, the City of San Francisco still owns and operates the venue.

Stern Grove Festival parking

See: Visitors’ guide to affordable parking in San Francisco 

What is the Stern Grove Festival? 

The Stern Grove Festival is a series of summer concerts in San Francisco. The festival, established in 1938, is held at Sigmund Stern Grove, a eucalyptus-wooded natural amphitheater on a 33-acre site about two miles south of Golden Gate Park, spanning from 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard west to 34th Avenue.

The festival hosts a variety of musical genres, including jazz, blues, folk, rock, and classical music. Past performers have included The Grateful Dead, Miles Davis, The Beach Boys, and Aretha Franklin. The festival is a popular event; however, admission is free, and seating is first-come, first-served.

The Stern Grove Festival is a beloved San Francisco institution. It is a place where people of all ages can come together to enjoy free live music in a beautiful setting. The festival is a reminder of the city’s rich cultural heritage and its commitment to providing access to the arts for all.

Where does the Stern Grove Festival happen in 2023? 

Sigmund Stern Grove is the venue for Stern Grove Festival 2023. It is at the corner of 19th Ave. and Sloat Blvd. in San Francisco’s Sunset District, south of Golden Gate Park. Seating is first-come, first-served, and the amphitheater can accommodate up to 20,000 people. The festival is held every Sunday from June through August.

Stern Grove has three GA entrances that open at 12 pm on concert Sundays:

  • 19th & Sloat (Shuttles to the seating areas for ADA/Senior guests start here)
  • Vale Avenue
  • 23rd & Wawona

The three general admission seating areas are West Meadow, Concert Meadow, and Hillside. All are first-come, first-serve; you’ll need to register one month in advance, but it’s free.

What is the schedule and lineup for the Stern Grove Festival 2023? 

The concert is free and open to the public. However, you will require a reservation to enter the event. Free reservations open one month before each show at 2 pm. You can also choose a picnic table. Reserved picnic tables are available for $1500 for up to 10 guests as part of the festival’s fundraising efforts.

Date   Performer   Cheap Parking Nearby  
June 18 SNARKY PUPPY Book Parking 


July 30 BOB MOSES 
August 6 BUDDY GUY
August 13  PATTI SMITH

How to reach Stern Grove, San Francisco?

Stern Grove is accessible by public transportation, bike, or car.

The closest Muni Metro stations are St. Francis Circle and West Portal/Sloat St.; M Ocean View or the K Ingleside lines. It’s a short walk west from either station to the park’s main 19th Ave./Sloat Blvd. entrance. Muni bus lines – 23-Monterey and 28-19th Avenue also stop nearby. You can also take BART to Civic Center, Glen Park, or Daly City and transfer to Muni.

Stern Grove is on a bike path, so it’s easy to get there by bicycle. There are also bike racks available at the 19th & Sloat Entrance. If you drive to the Grove, arrive early for the concerts, as parking fills up quickly. Limited parking is available at Stern Grove, so carpooling or public transportation is best.

Find out more about transportation options to Stern Grove concert Meadow here.

Stern Grove San Francisco entrance

Is there parking near Stern Grove? 

Stern Grove is in a residential neighborhood, and parking is extremely limited. Therefore, festival organizers strongly advise visitors to use public transportation, bicycles, or ride-sharing.  

small GA parking lot is located at 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard. This lot fills up quickly, so it’s best to arrive early. Additionally, several parking garages are located near Stern Grove, but they charge a fee. Street parking can be difficult to find, especially on concert days.

Also See: Where to find the best overnight parking in San Francisco

How to find parking near Stern Grove

Parking spaces are extremely scarce in the Outer Sunset neighborhood around Stern Grove. If you can walk, park in a residential neighborhood near Stern Grove. Street parking is usually free in residential areas but check for signs that indicate otherwise.

Don’t risk a parking ticket; using a San Francisco parking app to find nearby parking lots and garages would be better. Several parking apps and websites like Way.com can help you find parking near Stern Grove. These apps will show you available parking spots in real-time and help you reserve a spot in advance.

See: How to Book City Parking on Way.com: A Step-by-Step Guide

FAQs – Quick Answers About Stern Grove Festival

When is the Stern Grove Festival 2023?

The Stern Grove Festival 2023 is from June 18 to August 20, 2023.

What are the dates and times of the concerts?

The Stern Grove concerts will take place every Sunday from June to August, starting at 2:00 PM.

How do I get tickets to the Stern Grove Festival?

Registration is free and available online one month before each concert.

What is the seating like at the Stern Grove Festival?

The seating is first-come, first-served. There are no reserved seats, so it is best to arrive early to secure a good spot.

What can I bring to the Stern Grove Festival?

You can have a picnic at the festival. So, bring food and drinks, though food vendors are also on site. You are also allowed to bring blankets, chairs, and umbrellas.

What is the weather like at the Stern Grove Festival?

San Francisco weather can be unpredictable, so it is best to dress in layers. The average temperature in June is 65 F, and in August is 75 F.

Note: Event schedule and rules are subject to change. Check the official website and social media feed for up-to-date details.

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