Cloudless skies and warm weather draw Peninsula residents and visitors in throngs to summertime festivals, fairs, concerts and other seasonal events centered around food, art and community. And with the last couple of summers of COVID canceling or limiting many events, many are looking forward to the return of signature summer festivities like Shoreline Ampitheatre’s Fourth of July fireworks show and the San Mateo County Fair. Check out our guide to summer fun to fill your calendar from June through September.
Music series and festivals: Free concert series are everywhere this time of year. Find everything from tribute bands to reggae at Music on the Square in Redwood City every Friday at 6 p.m. through Sept. 2; Concerts on the Plaza every Friday at 6 p.m. at Civic Center Plaza in downtown Mountain View through Sept. 30; summer concerts for kids every Thursday at 11 a.m. through Aug. 4 at Linden Tree Books in Los Altos; Palo Alto’s Family Concert Series at the Magical Bridge Playground at 6:30 p.m. select Fridays starting June 10; the first annual PV Palooza in Portola Valley June 11, followed by the summer concert series select Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. beginning July 14; and an old-fashioned band concert with Ye Olde Towne Band at Shoup Park in Los Altos at 1:30 every last Sunday of the month June through September.
Don’t forget that the Stanford Jazz Festival celebrates its 50th anniversary June 17-July 30, and the chamber music festival Music@Menlo celebrates its 20th anniversary July 14-Aug. 6. Music@Menlo is also holding a series of free master classes and discussions led by festival artists and distinguished speakers.
Movie nights: Watch a film under the stars or from the comfort of your car this summer. Redwood City’s Movies on the Square are scheduled every Thursday night through Sept. 8, with kids’ movies at 6, independent films at 8 and the evening’s feature film at 8:30. Join San Mateo County’s parks department for its Movies in the Park series which includes June 18 at Flood Park in Menlo Park (“Spirit Untamed”). Family Movie Night at Mitchell Park in Palo Alto includes “Sing 2” on June 17 and “Luca” July 22. Mountain View’s outdoor movie night series at city parks kicks off with “Sing 2” on July 8 at Cuesta Park and ends Aug. 12 at Rengstorff Park with “Space Jam: A New Legacy.”
Art festivals: Summer is the peak time for art aficionados to stroll sunny city streets in search of paintings, tchotchkes, jewelry and more. Art on the Square in Redwood City takes place over four Fridays starting June 17; Chalk-Fest is scheduled for June 25 in Daly City; the Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival and the Clay and Glass Festival in Palo Alto are happening July 9-10; Fine Art in the Park in Los Altos is Aug. 13-14; Pescadero hosts its Arts & Fun Festival Aug. 20; Burlingame on the Avenue is Aug. 20-21; Palo Alto’s Festival of the Arts returns Aug. 27-28; the Kings Mountain Art Fair returns to the Woodside area over Labor Day weekend, as does Millbrae’s Art & Wine Festival; Mountain View’s 50th annual Art & Wine Festival is Sept. 10-11; Santa Clara’s Art & Wine Festival is Sept. 17-18; and Pacific Coast Fog Fest is back in Pacifica Sept. 24-25.
Fourth of July festivities: Fourth of July is back in full swing on the Peninsula this year. Head to Mitchell Park in Palo Alto at 11 a.m. for live music, food trucks and kids’ activities. Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View hosts its annual fireworks show, accompanied by the San Francisco Symphony. The Chalk Full of Fun festival (July 3-4) and of July parade return to Redwood City this year, with fireworks over the Port of Redwood City capping off the day. Foster City hosts an all-day celebration with a pancake breakfast, barbecue lunch and kids’ activities, with fireworks over the lagoon in the evening. Half Moon Bay’s festivities kick off with a pancake breakfast at 8 a.m., followed by the parade down Main Street at noon and a block party.
Cultural and food events: The quintessential summertime event, the county fair, is back starting with the San Mateo County Fair runs through June 12. The Santa Clara County Fair July 10 and July 23-30 will still look a little less conventional this year: it will be dedicated to livestock and home art exhibits, with free admission. No carnival, commercial vendors or traditional fair food will be offered in 2022, but this year’s offerings include the Junior Horse Show July 10, the Dog Show July 23 and the Dairy and Pygmy Goat Shows July 24.
Drink in an inflatable British-style pub at Pub in the Park in Redwood City July 16, Aug. 6 and Sept. 10, featuring beers and ciders from local breweries, food trucks and free live music and lawn games.
Try bites and beverages from 20-30 businesses at Taste of Mountain View June 22, a food, wine and beer walk kicking off at 4 p.m. downtown.
FoodieLand Night Market comes to San Mateo July 1-3, an outdoor festival inspired by the night markets of Asia that includes live music, local artisan booths and carnival games.
A longtime Peninsula festival that went virtual last year is back on July 16: the Obon Festival & Bazaar, a Japanese celebration at the Mountain View Buddhist Temple with dancing, food and live entertainment.
Foster City Summer Days Aug. 19-21 celebrates the city’s birthday with carnival rides, food trucks, live performances and craft vendors, plus single-day events like the rubber ducky race and a new classic car show.
After selling Greek entrees and desserts to go in lieu of a festival in 2021, the Belmont Greek Festival is back in person for its 50th anniversary Sept. 3-5. Find gyros, loukoumades and all your favorite Greek fare, plus live music and artisan booths.
Events for kids: School’s out for summer, but there are lots of events to keep the kids entertained and learning. Many of the aforementioned events are family-friendly, but some especially geared toward children include Bricks by the Bay Lego convention and expo in Santa Clara June 25-26; Super Hero Day in San Mateo July 16; and a family campout in Santa Clara’s Central Park Aug. 5-6, followed by a campout in Foster City’s Leo J. Ryan Park Aug. 6-7.
Julia Brown writes for TheSixFifty.com, a sister publication of Palo Alto Online, covering what to eat, see and do in Silicon Valley.