The Stern Grove Festival is an admission-free series of performing arts events held during the summer months in San Francisco. Established in 1938, the festival is held at Sigmund Stern Grove, a eucalyptus-wooded natural amphitheater on a 33-acre (130,000-square-meter) site about two miles (three kilometers) south of Golden Gate Park that ranges from 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard west to 34th Avenue.

Stern Grove Festival
Stern Grove in 2022
GenreRock, pop, indie, hip hop, electronic dance music
Dates10 consecutive Sundays in summer (currently)
Location(s)Sigmund Stern Recreation Grove
(San Francisco, California, U.S.)
Coordinates37°44′10″N 122°28′39″W / 37.7362°N 122.4776°W / 37.7362; -122.4776
Years active1938–1942, 1945–2019, 2021–present
Organized byStern Grove Festival Association

This festival went on hiatus in 1942–45 due to World War II and in 2020 due to COVID-19.

The venue is accessible by public transportation, with Metro connection to the K Ingleside and M Ocean View lines at St. Francis Circle station, located about a five minute walk from the Nineteenth Avenue and Sloat Boulevard entrance.[2]



Early plans for the Grove as a musical venue in the 1930s focused on maintaining the natural contour of the amphitheater bowl, with the surrounding garden, grassy slopes, and eucalyptus trees emphasizing the nature-oriented feel as a venue.[3] Rosalie M. Stern saw the area's potential “because of its peaceful beauty, its historic interest, and, being below sea level, it is shielded from cold winds and fogs.”[3] The Sigmund Stern Memorial Grove was dedicated June 4, 1932, and the first open air symphony concert was held two weeks later.[4]



The first summer concert of the first annual Stern Grove Festival was held on July 10, 1938 and performed by the Bay Region Symphony of the Federal Music Project.[5] In 1943, the San Francisco Ballet performed at the Stern Grove Festival for the first time and has since become a staple in the summer season lineup.[5]

In 1963, during the 25th Anniversary Season, the San Francisco Symphony performed; the photographer Ansel Adams was in attendance and took a series of photographs of the grove.[5] Three years later, in 1966, the Festival had its first ever jazz concert, with Turk Murphy, John Handy, and Vince Guaraldi performing; the concert was taped and televised nationally on the Bell Telephone Hour. In 1980, a documentary about Stern Grove aired on PBS stations across the country.[5]

Renovations on the Sigmund Stern Grove began in 2004 and were completed in time for the opening of its 68th season in June 2005. In May 2020, the Stern Grove Festival was canceled for the first time since World War II due to the COVID-19 pandemic; however, a TV special entitled "Best of Fest" was aired using archival footage of the festival and attracted more than half a million viewers.[5]

Notable acts


Some notable acts who have performed at the Stern Grove Festival have included: Patti Smith (2023), LeAnn Rimes (2022), The Isley Brothers (2019), Ziggy Marley (2018), Kool & the Gang (2017), Janelle Monae (2016), Julieta Venegas (2016), Randy Newman (2015), Talib Kweli (2015), Smokey Robinson (2014), Michael McDonald (2013), Anita Baker (2012), and Roberta Flack (2009).[6]



Stern Grove Festival's YouTube channel features concert videos and pre-concert talks that began with the 2006 Stern Grove Festival season.


  1. ^ "Stern Grove". Do The Bay. Retrieved August 15, 2022.
  2. ^ "Getting to the Grove". Stern Grove Festival Association. Retrieved September 14, 2023.
  3. ^ a b Van Niekerken, Bill (June 20, 2016). "Tracing the history of Stern Grove's summer concerts". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved August 15, 2022.
  4. ^ "Stern Grove History". University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved August 16, 2022.
  5. ^ a b c d e "History". Stern Grove. Retrieved August 16, 2022.
  6. ^ "Archives". Stern Grove. Retrieved August 16, 2022.