East Bay residents seize the summertime to bring culture into the streets and parks, showcasing music, dance and film outdoors in city centers and outlying neighborhoods alike. The events below offer opportunities for entertainment and education rooted in the cultural and even ecological history of the region. Many of these picks are free and family-friendly, and all but one take place outdoors.
Art + Soul
Art + Soul brings the spirit of Oakland to the heart of the city, with vendors, dancers and musicians sprawling throughout downtown. This year, the city-sponsored festival is headlined by artists yet to be announced. Other stages feature lineups themed around blues, gospel, salsa music and the kinetic or circus arts. As usual, there’s ample family-friendly programming in store, and tickets start at a modest $12 for adults.
Garden of Memory
Chapel of the Chimes, Oakland
This one's indoors, but there's plenty of greenery and natural light. On the longest day of the year, the regal, naturally-lit Chapel of the Chimes columbarium erupts with sound as dozens of musicians perform simultaneously for a roaming audience at Garden of Memory. The annual event, which started in 1996, features small chamber groups, solo experimentalists and other ensembles expertly drawn from the local music scene, and culminates with a participatory bell-ringing ceremony to mark the solstice at sunset.
Jack London District, Oakland
The lineup and exact location of this year’s Hiero Day is still to be determined, but the annual Labor Day music festival has become one of the foremost hip-hop events in Oakland. Local rap group Hieroglyphics founded the festival (tickets cost $19.93, a nod to Souls of Mischief’s "‘93 Til Infinity"), and it reliably boasts an impressive lineup of golden-age headliners and emerging locals. Last year featured artists including The Roots’ Black Thought, Mannie Fresh, Guapdad4000, DJ Fresh and Traxamillion, and the festival spread across several blocks in the Jack London District of Oakland. Tickets generally sell out long before the lineup is confirmed.