San Francisco is a unique city best known for its famous landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island, to name just a few.
What makes SF so different, though, is its creative, free-thinking and sometimes strange inhabitants. The city feels like one giant playground and undeniably hosts some of the most unique and quirkiest events in the world. Our fun-loving local ambassador, Camille, shares 7 of her favourites.
BYOBW is a very special race that takes place on Easter Sunday. It’s a festive and funny event with a very simple concept: bring your own big wheel (a tricycle or basically any other plastic toy with wheels), wear a costume and ride down one of SF’s most crooked streets again and again to the delight of the cheering crowd.
A guy named John Brumit was the first person crazy enough to ride a big wheel down Lombard Street in 2000. In the following years it became a regular event and an unofficial must-do on Easter Sunday.
When: Easter Sunday (depending on city approval)
Where: Vermont Street in Potrero Hill
Photo credit: SFGate
As you can guess, this event comes with its fair share of controversy every year. Organised by none other than the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, an order of queer nuns, it has participants competing for the title of Hunkiest Jesus or Sexiest Mary.
In SF, you can wear blankets, crowns of thorns or a nun’s robe and still look hot.
When: Easter Sunday
Where: Golden Gate Park
Photo credit: SFGate
Naked people riding bikes. You read it right. For this worldwide event participants ride bikes as “bare as they dare” through busy streets to protest against car culture and demonstrate the vulnerability of cyclists on the road.
Not surprisingly, it’s very popular among San Franciscans who have a tendency to prance around naked (or disguised) a lot.
When: Upcoming dates are yet to be announced
Where: The streets of SF
Photo credit: Joe
4. Bay to Breakers
Bay to Breakers is SF’s most anticipated footrace. Once again, many participants dress up in creative costumes especially for the event. The 12-kilometre route starts near San Francisco Bay and continues through the streets of SF past the city’s iconic landmarks, ending at the Great Highway where breakers crash onto Ocean Beach.
The race attracts tens of thousands of people and offers the perfect opportunity to party like crazy and drink booze all day.
When: May 15, 2016
Where: It starts at Pier 35 and ends at Ocean Beach
Photo credit: Kevin Edwards
It’s difficult to imagine SF without its rainbow flag. The city has a vibrant and very active LGBT community, making Pride a huge event and feisty celebration. Held annually since 1970, it’s the first and largest LGBT gathering in North America.
Multiples stages, heavily decorated floats, exhibitions, lots of drinking, great parties, extravagant costumes and plenty of people dancing around are to be expected during this two-day event.
When: June 25–26, 2016
Where: Market Street, between the Embarcadero and Powell
Photo credit: leesean
6. Folsom Street Fair
This one is a fun event of a different kind. Leather enthusiasts and fetishists from all over the world meet on historic Folsom Street to indulge their kinky side. It’s for sure the best place to get flogged and go shopping for bondages ropes, leathers clothing and other whipping accessories.
Expect plenty of nudity and mischief at this “only in San Francisco” event!
When: The last Sunday in September
Where: Folsom Street in the Mission District
Photo credit: Genial 23
If you love Christmas and have an unspoilt image of Santa, be warned: SantaCon will destroy it for you.
Created in SF, this flash-mob-style event brings together thousands of (young) people dressed up as Santa. You’ll see Santas of all varieties doing the rounds of local bars, drinking all day long and causing general mayhem. Needless to say, not all SF inhabitants are pleased with this peculiar Christmas tradition.
Where: Union Square
Photo credit: Joanne Wan
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Opening photo credit: Thomas Hawk