Put away your rain boots, take out your spring bonnets and clear your calendars! Give your little ones a chance to stretch their cooped-up little legs and head outdoors to celebrate spring. April and May are brimming with family-friendly festivals from Sunol to San Francisco to Salinas. Whether you want to celebrate cherry blossoms, bicycles, winged animals, kites or kids, there’s a celebration for everything and we’ve got our top picks to make your spring that much brighter.
photo: Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival
2018 Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival – San Francisco
Now celebrating its 51st year, this festival welcomes over 200,000 people to see the dazzling display showcasing the color and grace of the Japanese culture. The festival will be held on the borders of Laguna and Fillmore Streets and Bush and Geary Streets. There will be food booths, Japanese and Japanese American cultural performances, martial arts, live bands, the annual Queen Program and more. The Grand Parade will be held on Sunday, April 22 at 1 p.m., beginning at City Hall and concluding in Japantown.
Dates: April 14-22
Location: San Francisco Japantown, 1610 Geary Blvd , San Francisco, CA
Tinkerfest – Oakland
Build, create and innovate with the whole family at the Chabot Space & Science Center’s Tinkerfest. The event showcases the work of makers, artists and tinkerers of all ages. Visitors can challenge each other in a giant game of Pac-Man, play with their food at the Tinker Kitchen, create a large-scale collaborative chain reaction machine and even dismantle an entire car and plane with the help of trained mechanics. The possibilities for DIY fun are endless.
Dates: April 14, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: Free with admission
Location: Chabot Space & Science Center, 10000 Skyline Blvd. Oakland, CA
photo: Sea Otter Classic
Sea Otter Classic – Salinas
This celebration of cycling includes a whole area devoted to kids, daily egg hunts and a race on the famed Laguna Seca Racetrack on Friday and Saturday. A food court and BMX stunt shows will keep the kids busy while you see what’s new in the world of cycling.
Dates: April 19-22
Cost: $20/day, kids 12 and under are free
Location: Laguna Seca Raceway, 1021 Monterey Salinas Highway , Salinas, CA
Touch-a-Truck Day – San Francisco
If your tot is truck-obsessed then this is the place for you. They will be able to climb aboard trucks and cars of all shapes and sizes including a fire truck and a bobcat. Everyone will enjoy noshing on the food truck snacks and spending some time at the crafts station.
Date: April 21, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Cost: $15 general admission, $55 Family Pack
Location: The Presidio Civil War Lawn, San Francisco, CA
photo: Butter & Egg Days, Steven Restivo Event Services
Butter & Egg Days – Petaluma
Now on its 37th year, Petaluma’s annual Butter & Egg Days Parade & Festival has become a beloved community tradition that draws tens of thousands of people. This year’s event celebrates the 100th anniversary of National Egg Day and the 100th anniversary of the very first Egg Day parade. Petaluma’s charming Historic Downtown District will be transformed into an open-air marketplace, with arts and crafts vendors, food vendors, kids’ activities and more. Don’t miss the Cutest Chick contest featuring dozens of tots bedecked in fluffy yellow feathers. The kids’ parade starts at 11:30 a.m. and the main parade starts at noon.
Date: April 28, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Location: Historic Downtown, Petaluma, CA
photo: Luminara Festival
Luminara Festival – San Jose
Take the family out for an evening of magic. Enjoy live music and food truck eats while surrounded by the light of a thousand lanterns. Each festival-goer receives an LED hanging lantern to customize with their own designs or messages of love. Everyone joins together for an inspirational lantern hanging ceremony. Afterwards, take your lantern home with you to relive the memories of a beautiful night.
Date: April 28, 7 p.m.- p.m.
Cost: $50, free for ages 12 and under, Early-Bird discounts available
Location: Morgan Outdoor Sports Center, 16500 Condit Road, Morgan Hill, CA
Pacific Coast Dream Machines Show – Half Moon Bay
A car show, air show, motorcycle show, tractor show, maker fair, music festival, food festival and living history festival all rolled into one. The kids will be enthralled by the skydiving performances and monster truck rides.
Date: April 29, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Cost: $30, kids 10 and under are free
Location: Half Moon Bay Airport, 9850 N. Cabrillo Highway , Half Moon Bay, CA
Parents Place Family Fun Day – Palo Alto
Bounce around in the toddler fun zone, rock out to live music and sample delicious treats from food vendors. Meet the Parents Place team of parenting experts, engage in games and activities provided by community partners and drop in to one of the mini-workshops on everything from mindfulness to tantrums while the kids enjoy the playroom.
Date: April 29, 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Location: Koret Family Resource Center, 200 Channing Ave., Palo Alto, CA
photo: Silicon Valley Bikes! Festival and Bicycle Show
Children’s Day Festival – San Francisco
This year marks the 25th annual Children’s Day Festival, so bring out the whole family for a fun day in Japantown! Participate in cultural arts and crafts activities, bounce houses, games and prizes for the kids.
Date: May 5, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Location: Japantown’s Peace Plaza, 1610 Geary St., San Francisco, CA
Silicon Valley Bikes! Festival and Bicycle Show – San Jose
Kick off National Bike Month by celebrating cycling and its history. Festival includes food trucks, craft beer for the parents, a Kids’ Space, thrilling BMX stunt riding shows, music, historical exhibitions, free valet bicycle parking and a spectacular bicycle show that attracts custom, vintage, cruiser and lowrider builders and collectors.
Date: May 6, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Cost: $5, kids 5 and under free
Location: History Park, 635 Phelan Ave., San Jose, CA
photo: Maker Faire
Maker Faire – San Mateo
Take the whole family to the world’s largest DIY festival, featuring anything and everything that people make themselves. From robots to recycled art to homemade, traditional arts and crafts, you’ll see the finest examples of creativity and innovation. Mini makers will enjoy hands-on activity stations and exhibits that get the gears turning in their heads. Head to the event early, because this popular event fills up quickly.
Dates: May 18-20
Cost: $50 adults, $30 kids, 3 and under free at the door, Early Bird discounts available
Location: San Mateo County Event Center, 1346 Saratoga Drive, San Mateo, CA
Maifest – Mill Valley
Celebrate this German/Austrian cultural fest with a Maypole, authentic foods and beer, music, folk dancing and children’s games.
Date: May 20, 12-6 p.m.
Cost: $20 adults, kids free
Location: San Francisco Tourist Club, 30 Ridge Ave., Mill Valley, CA
Bay Area KidFest – Concord
Looking for a fun way to spend Memorial Day weekend? Head over to Concord where it’s Kid Fest time! Puppets, singers, martial artists and even your favorite TV characters will be there to entertain all weekend. Carnival rides will get you spinning.
Dates: May 26-28, Sat. and Sun. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Mon. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: $7 per person ages 2 and over ($1 off with donation of canned good)
Location: Mount Diablo High School, 2450 Grant St., Concord, CA
Carnaval – San Francisco
San Francisco’s 40th annual Carnaval celebration is shaping up to be a party like no other. Over 400,000 people are expected to line in the streets to enjoy dancing, drumming, live music, brilliant costumes, delicious food and artistry. Don’t miss the Grand Parade, which kicks off on Sunday at 9:30 a.m. The parade begins at the corner of 24th and Bryant streets, then proceeds west to Mission Street, heads north on Mission to 17th Street, turns east on 17th Street and concludes at South Van Ness Avenue. The spectacular costumes and floats will take your breath away, and the infectious samba rhythms will have your whole family dancing in the streets.
Dates: May 26-27
Location: Harrison Street between 16th and 24th streets, San Francisco, CA
San Ramon Art & Wind Festival – San Ramon
Kites are the main attraction of this event along with artists’ booths and hands-on activities for all ages. See talented musicians and dancers on multiple stages, grab a bite to eat and check out the kids zone with rides and other fun.
Dates: May 27-28, 11 a.m.- 6 p.m.
Location: San Ramon Central Park, 12501 Alcosta Blvd., San Ramon, CA
Share your favorite festival to usher in the spring season below!
—Ana Picazo & Kate Loweth