Summer may be winding down, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t still an abundance of fun and excitement to be had. September is a great month for festivals in California: whether you’re looking to feast on the fall harvests or to catch the last bit of outdoor music fever before it gets too cold, it’s likely happening in this part of the world. Best of all, you can stay at one of our HI USA hostels so you save on accommodation while meeting like-minded revelers before and after the festivities. To get into the spirit of things, we’ve compiled a quick list of some of the hot happenings in Northern California near our fabulous hostel, so all you have to worry about is getting there. Take a look!
Chinatown Autumn Moon Festival
The annual Chinatown Autumn Moon Festival is a two-day affair packed with activities, exhibits, live entertainment and good food in the red-paper lanterned streets of San Francisco. The free festival kicks off with a Grand Parade of local beauty queens, cultural performers and dancers on Grant Avenue, which is also the hub for the fanfare. Get your fill of delicious moon cakes and other traditional treats, try your hand at the interactive digital games, catch a cooking demonstration or shop ‘til you drop for bargain souvenirs – all within a couple of blocks. On the second day of the festival, contemporary Chinese band Alice and the Wave will be performing before the festival’s famous dragon closes out the event for another year.
When: September 10 & 11, 2016
Where to stay: HI SF Downtown is closest to Chinatown, but you can stay at any of our three HI San Francisco hostels.
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
Join the legion of locals and music fans in Golden Gate Park for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, which is pretty much an institution in San Francisco. The free three-day fest features a line-up of over 100 acts as diverse as Cyndi Lauper and CAKE, performing on seven stages in the iconic park. The festival was started in 2001 as a strictly bluegrass affair, but the ”hardly” was added a few years later to reflect the mixed bag of musicians who play at the festival each year. Bring a picnic and some blankets, gather a gang from the hostel and spend the day in a truly San Francisco way.
When: September 30 – October 2, 2016
Where to stay: Any of our HI San Francisco hostels.
Monterey Jazz Festival
Billed as one of the longest consecutive running jazz festivals, the Monterey Jazz Festival is probably the most iconic event to take place in the small coastal town. Since it began in 1958 with a line-up that included Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong, the event has attracted music lovers from all over the world for three days of pure entertainment and fun at the stunning Monterey County Fairgrounds. This year’s festival honors the legendary musician and producer Quincy Jones and also features old school and contemporary performers at various venues around town. Check the Monterey Jazz Festival off your bucket list while also getting to explore this quaint beach town.
When: September 16 – 18, 2016
Where to stay: The lovely HI Monterey Hostel, which makes for a homey base while you’re in town.
Sacramento Farm to Fork Festival
California’s capital city also happens to be the capital of locally sourced eats, and each year, the Sacramento Farm to Fork Festivals allows locavores and general food lovers to meet the people behind the scenes and sample some goodies. Get your fill of local food, wine and beer and maybe see if you can pick up some pointers at the live cooking demonstrations, or just enjoy the perpetual Sacramento sunshine while listening to some live music. Admission to the festival is free, so you can choose how little (or much) you spend on filling your stomach.
When: September 24, 2016
Where to stay: In a stately former Victorian mansion at HI Sacramento.
California Brewers Festival
Because two food- and beer-related festivals are better than one, you can also go to the California Brewers Festival in Sacramento, which focuses primarily on craft beers, ciders and wines from over 100 producers from all over the state. Hosted in Discovery Park, this year’s festival will also feature eats from Sacramento food trucks and vendors selling local crafts, plus a line-up of bands to provide the soundtrack for the perfect day out. This is an excellent way to sample some of the best Sacramento has to offer if you’re short on time.
When: September 17, 2016
Where to stay: HI Sacramento hostel
HI USA tip: The more the merrier! No matter what your plans are, try get a group of fellow hostellers to join you to make memories and lifelong friends.