Your Guide to the Coolest Kiddie Music Fest in SF: Yerba Buena Children’s Garden Series

Want to add some music to your mornings? Then set a date with your kids and the Children’s Garden Series at the 16th Annual Yerba Buena Garden Festival. Starting Friday, May 6th through Sunday, October 30th, the urban oasis will come alive with free mornings of music, dance, clowning and more—curated specifically for kids under 10.

Photo: Pi Clowns, courtesy of Yerba Buena Garden Festival

Festival 411
The celebrated Yerba Buena Gardens Festival packs the park every summer with incredible performances. But did you know that Friday mornings are just for the kids? (Plus select Saturdays and Sundays—check series program.) The Children’s Garden Series will feature interactive performing arts including, dance, music, martial arts, circus, art projects and much more brought to you by your little one’s favorite artists. Most performances start at 11 a.m. and last about 30 minutes. Don’t worry if you miss the first show. There is a repeat performance at 12:15 p.m. Circus Bella and the festival’s closing Halloween Program will run on the weekend and feature extended performances, so factor in some extra time for these signature shows.

The Red Pandas Acrobats - Children’s Garden Series at Yerba Buena Gardens FestivalPhoto: The Red Pandas Acrobats, courtesy of Yerba Buena Gardens Festival

The Line Up
The Children’s Series will open its performances with the Red Panda Acrobats. Experience jaw-dropping Chinese acrobatics and martial arts moves. Little eyes will bounce around trying to keep up with dazzling costumes and impressive displays of strength, balance, and dexterity. All accompanied by traditional Chinese music.

Red Panda Acrobats
Fri., June 3, 11 a.m.–11.30 a.m. & 12:15 p.m.–12:45 p.m.

Get moving with the Alphabet Rockers. This powerhouse hip hop group will get you grooving with fun beats, rhymes, songs, and dances.

Alphabet Rockers
Fri., June 10, 11 a.m.–11.30 a.m. & 12:15 p.m.–12:45 p.m.

No festival without the know-about physical comedy of the Pi Clowns. These talented artists will make you laugh with their mime, theater, acrobatics, juggling, and improvisation. Many of the talented members of this fantastic company worked for Cirque Du Soleil and The New Pickle Circus to the San Francisco Circus Center and Teatro ZinZanni.

Pi Clowns
Fri., June 17, 11 a.m.–11.30 a.m. & 12:15 p.m.–12:45 p.m.

Circus Bella, San Francisco’s favorite one-ring circus, will enchant you with two shows on Friday and Saturday. This 60-minute show features all imaginable circus highlights, from rope walking, static trapeze, juggling, contortion, clowning, and acrobatics – nothing will be left out here.

Circus Bella
Fri., June 24, noon–1 p.m. (no repetitions)
Sat., June 25, noon–1 p.m. (no repetitions)

Halloween Hoppla - Children's Garden Series at Yerba Buena Garden Festival

The Children’s Garden Series will end its spectacular festivities on Sunday, October 30th with a Halloween-themed highlight, the Halloween Hoopla. Everybody is welcome to this one, which brings back the Yerba Buena Pumpkin Patch and culminates with its famous Halloween Costume Parade.

Halloween Hoopla
Sun., Oct. 30th, noon–1.30 p.m.

Circus Bella - Children’s Garden Series at Yerba Buena Gardens Festival

Lunch Lowdown
To keep it simple and easy, pack a fun picnic. Avoid big lines, hungry meltdowns, plus there is so much to do on the grounds, you won’t need to leave looking for food and can wander around some more after the show.

But if you are looking for a family-friendly option to buy lunch, there are plenty. We recommend:

  • Food choices are endless at the Metreon food court restaurants — 135 4th St, San Francisco (dining terrace with large range of ethnic restaurants. Mexican, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, you name it)
  • Sip a tea and enjoy a pesto roast turkey sandwich at Samovar Tea Lounge, Yerba Buena Gardens — 730 Howard St, San Francisco (sandwiches, rice bowls, salads)
  • The new Carousel Cafe is the former Zeum cafe at the Children’s Creativity Museum. — 221 4th Street, San Francisco. (Menu mainly features panini’s & crepes)
  • Share an authentic Italian dish at Buca di Beppo (Italian cuisine) — 855 Howard Street, San Francisco
  • Zero Zero (Wood-fired, thin-crust pizzas) — 26 Folsom Street, San Francisco

Insider Tips
Like any great festival, there will be plenty of sun. Shows are held outdoors, with no shade. Bring sun protection and plenty of water. Your little companions will need to rehydrate after all that dancing and moving. Also, bring a picnic blanket. Seating options are limited.

Driving? Best parking is at 5th and Mission Garage (3$/hr. Check incremental parking rates online)

If you are taking the BART or Muni, get off Powell Street and exit at 4th Street. Make a left on Mission at the Metreon and follow the music. Easy stroller access.

Yerba Buena Festival 
760 Howard St.
San Francisco, Ca

Online: ybgfestival.org

Have you gone to the Yerba Buena Festival Children’s Garden Series? Share your own tips in the comments below! 

–Sabine Klensch

All photos courtesy of the Yerba Buena Garden Festival