A galactic range of options await any visitor to San Francisco. As we roll into summer, celebrations and festivals abound in this magnificent city. Here are a few suggestions from the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau for the month of April.
Cherry Blossom Festival: April 11-12, 18-19
It's easy to feel torn trying to decide which of all the fabulous San Francisco spring events you should attend. Japantown's Cherry Blossom Festival is among the best contendors for two weekends in April with this year's Grand Marshall, actor and activist, George Takei. The festival honors the diversity of Japanese Americans with traditional fare, such as tea ceremonies, folk dancing, martial arts, taiko drummers and crafts, and contemporary events like an anime fashion show, a visit from Hello Kitty and her entourage and a karaoke song festival. The main highlight for the city's large foodie contingent is the street fair, which features cooking demonstrations and mouthwatering cuisine - imagawayaki cakes filled with sweet bean paste, takoyaki dumplings, deep-fried mochi balls, and of course, sushi. Most of the events are free, and all of them are great for families.
Union Street Spring Celebration & Easter Parade: April 12
Forgo the traditional Easter bonnet and white patent-leather shoes. This is one Easter celebration where the whole family can let their hair down. Union Street's 18th annual free spring bash offers the little ones bounce houses, climbing walls and pony rides, while their parents enjoy alfresco dining, live music, fashion shows and vintage cars. Everyone can participate in the Easter hat contest, and if past winners are any indication, everything from grandiose floral arrangements and feathers to stuffed bunnies, dyed eggs and balloons are fair game.
San Francisco International Film Festival: April 23-May 7
As the oldest, and one of the most respected, film festivals in the U.S., the SFIFF will once again strike the perfect balance between celebrating the past and heralding the future of film. This year's festival will feature the work of more than 100 established and up-and-coming auteurs. Highlights will include two restored masterpieces: Michelangelo Antonioni's 1955 drama "Le Amiche" and John Cassavetes' 1974 award winner "A Woman Under the Influence." Gena Rowlands, who won a Golden Globe for her role as Mable in Cassavetes' film, and Robert Redford are expected to attend the event.
Opening Day on the Bay
The San Francisco Giants' opening series at AT&T Park is a sure sign spring has arrived.
April 7's home opener against the Milwaukee Brewers will have fans rooting for the team to make their first World Series appearance since 2002.
Baseball isn't the only season that kicks off in April. Northern California's boating season officially opens with a splash on April 26 as more than 150 vessels prance across San Francisco Bay in well-choreographed formation for Opening Day on the Bay. Tug, tour and commercial boats create a quite spectacle as they vie for prizes based on whose "costumed" boat best interprets this year's theme, Legends of the Sea.