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SFIAF's advice on how to make the most
of your 2024 festival experience

By Andrew "Boots" Hardy
SFIAF Editor

As the San Francisco International Arts Festival prepares to descend upon the Mission District May 1 through 12, performance lovers may want to know how to take in this unique and exciting hub of arts and culture. Festival 2024’s exciting calendar features spectacular performances from a rich diversity of artists and performers. 

La Misión is one of the City’s oldest communities, springing up around
San Francisco de Asís Mission Church in the late 1700s, when California was still part of Mexico. From its origins, the Mission has been a historical center of Mexican-American traditions, alive with energy and humanity, and now sprawls across about 1.5 square miles of vibrant and colorful cityscape that’s a little less touristy, and has one of the City’s sunnier microclimates.

Today, a person could walk from one end of the Mission to the other in under an hour. But the Mission is not an experience that should be rushed. The streets are abuzz with humanity, and sidewalk cafes and restaurants abound, with the enticing aromas of timeless, mouth-watering Latin-American and numerous diverse cuisines wafting through the air.


The streets weave together to form an incredibly diverse canvas for the art of the neighborhood’s incredible colorists. Throughout the Mission, vibrant murals of phenomenal detail adorn the walls of concert halls and bakeries, hotels, and even a couple of dedicated graffiti alleys—a don’t-miss for visitors.

Here are a few recommendations from SFIAF to help you experience the Mission District in all its splendorous glory, with discounts at many local shops and eateries for festival ticket-holders.

To get the most out of SFIAF 2024—and save on tickets—we highly recommend purchasing a festival pass. Pass holders receive admission to three or five shows of their choice, for a single price. Festival passes will be especially appealing for those who want a more rounded encounter with the arts, taking in dance, live music, spoken word, theater, performance art, and more. 

Festival passes can unlock an entire day of entertainment, like a guided mural tour followed by a matinee, then lunch and shopping before an evening show. Click here for a sample itinerary!


See engaging local and international performers then meet them in person after the show! A great way to engage with the arts is to attend one of the festival’s numerous post-performance artist talks or meet them at one of the scheduled receptions and parties.

Our opening-night reception at the Mission Cultural Center will follow Kassandra Production’s U.S. premier of San Francisco native Annika B. Lewis’ provocative The Soul Catcher, an immersive performance takes the audience on a journey of healing from a traumatic relationship. The after-show gathering will include a meet-and-greet with Lewis and the show’s Danish actors.


The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition will be hosting a reception at El Rio following Mykalle Bielinski’s Warm Up, a powerful, bicycle-centric statement on the melding of consumerism and capitalism. 

Also at El Rio, acclaimed transgender country singer Shawna Virago will be signing copies of her latest album, Blood in her Dreams, at her record release party before going on stage to perform.

At the Dovre Club, the Consulate General of the Republic of Ireland will welcome SFIAF audiences to celebrate the opening night of Pat Kinevane’s KING, presented by Fishamble: The New Play Company from Dublin.


There is no shortage of great food in the Mission, and SFIAF has teamed up with Calle 24 Latino Cultural District to offer festival ticket-holders discounts at many of the restaurants and cafes that season the community.

"Calle 24 Latino Cultural District is delighted to be a part of the San Francisco International Arts Festival,” said Columbian-born executive director Susana Rojas. “Our participating businesses and restaurants offer a glimpse of the diversity and resilience that make our cultural district vibrant. We welcome all to enjoy our district through art and to support our small businesses."

Antigua Guatemala (2732 24th Street) offers a diverse range of delectable Guatemalan flavors, crafted with a deep-rooted essence of indigenous traditions.


Bissap Baobab (2243 Mission St.) is extremely popular for their Senegalese food and exotic drinks, and their stage also plays host to several festival events. Open until 10:00pm, they’re a great spot to hit after a late show.

Gyros and Tzatziki (3111 24th St.) features Mediterranean cuisine with delicious food and an appealing environment that’s open until midnight daily, the perfect place to eat after shows that start at 8:00pm or later.

Several local shops are also welcoming festival-goers, including Native Hand By Hand (3337 23rd St.), a family-owned business specializing in the beautiful hand-made silver and beaded jewelry of Latin America’s indigenous peoples.

Also check out Frida’s Closet (3473 25th St) to find an incredible amalgam of ethnic and craft mixed with modern clothing designs, and find hand-crafted gold and silver jewelry at DIJU (3247 24th St.)

Review all of our participating Mission District businesses here.



Over 1,000 murals grace the streets of San Francisco, but the City’s greatest concentration is in the Mission District. The Mission’s mural-scape is a veritable timeline of activism, music, culture and social justice.

The best way to absorb the street-art sights is with one of SFIAF’s guided mural walks, led by veterans of the Mission District arts and culture scene.


For art-lovers on a budget, SFIAF 2024 is presenting a number of free events, including the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble’s Borealis concert at El Rio, with a varied mix of music for an eclectic instrumental ensemble: flute, viola and double-bass. 


The Community Music Center is also hosting Women in Jazz and World Music, a free concert with the Dee Spencer Trio and the SFSU Jazz Combo/Vocal Jazz Ensemble.

Peruse our Festival Calendar for more free events. Plus, don’t forget that festival-goers can show a ticket for any festival event and get discounts at participating shops and restaurants in the Mission District.

Festival Passes are the best way to get discounts to see multiple shows.
Get Festival Passes

Full-Time Students & Seniors
Add an extra discount with the code on the check-out page.


Volunteers are an essential component of the San Francisco International Arts Festival. We need ushers, drivers, admins and all manner of helpers. In return we offer complimentary tickets to performances!

For more information, please email our Volunteer Coordinator,
Leah Richardson at [email protected]

San Francisco International Arts Festival
Phone Number: 415-399-9554 | Email: [email protected]
1222 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA 94109



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