Don’t be disappointed! Scroll down for 12 Insider Secrets that you won’t find in any official guide to the Sausalito Art Festival!
The Sausalito Art Festival, held each Labor Day weekend, is the biggest outdoor art festival in the U.S. It features both a wide variety of artists showing (and selling) their work and major musical performers.
Dates and Festival Hours for 2016:
Saturday, September 3rd 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Sunday, September 4th 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Monday, September 5th 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
A ticket allows entry into the festival for one day only. Buy multiple tickets to attend the festival on different days.
Gen. Admission (ages 13-61) — $25.00 per day
Seniors age 62+ — $20.00 per day
Juniors age 6-12 — $5.00 per day
Children under 6 — Free with Adult
Insiders Tip: You can also buy combined event tickets and ferry passes on the boats that unload at a pier adjacent to the Festival grounds. See below for details and links.
12 Insider Secrets for
The 2015 Sausalito Art Festival
1. Parking on the Cheap, If You Park At All
Note: BART is closing the Trans-Bay Tube over Labor Day Weekend. There will be no BART service between the East Bay and San Francisco during the Festival this year.
We had so much information under this heading that we moved it to its own page — click hear to read about Parking and Traffic at the Sausalito Art Festival!
2. The Sounds of Music
Music plays almost all day on two different stages and you’ll want to arrive early if this is the focus of your visit. The main stage and seats are under a large tent, which usually fills up early. The seating is at large round tables, and people crowd into an open standing-room-only area in front of the stage, blocking the view from the front tables. Lawn chairs are not allowed. You can see our complete list of 2015 bands and musicians and the schedule here.
Insiders Tip: There’s also a special children’s entertainment area for younger kids, with its own scheduled musical programs. It’s located past the big music tent, on the lawn between the Bay Model and the Bay.
Insiders Tip: I’ve seen some of my favorite bands on the big stage here, but IMHO there are times when the small Artists Stage performances are better than the people in the main tent.
3. What’s Allowed
Pets have to stay home: Only working service animals are allowed on the grounds. Our Editor Miss T is terribly disappointed.
Chairs, food and beverages (see below) are not allowed inside the Festival grounds. Apart from the music performance tent there are not a lot of places to sit down, so plan accordingly.
4. The Mysterious Non-Musical Big Tent
A great treat back for this year is the Educational Tall Ship Shipbuilding Facility, located in a large tent near the Festival entrance. It’s open to Festival goers, and you’ll see them building a traditional wooden sailing ship right here in Sausalito for sailing training and youth activities.
5. Two Wheels are Better than Four
Bikes get free valet parking. It’s hosted by the Marin County Bicycle Coalition, and they’re waiting to help you near the main Festival entry gates, with the bikes parked between the Bay Model and the hillside below Bridgeway. Bikes may not be brought inside the Festival.
I’ve worked in jobs where it felt like this.
6. So Many Ferries, So Little Time
The Golden Gate Ferry that sails from the pier in downtown Sausalito offers expanded service over the Festival weekend, and special Blue and Gold fleet Sausalito Art Festival ferries sail directly to the pier at the Festival grounds. Click here for all the ferry information and links!
7. More Ways to Ride in Style
Golden Gate Transit buses also serve the area. The three closest stops are:
1) Bridgeway at Harbor (by Mollie Stone’s)
2) Bridgeway at Nevada
3) Bridgeway at Easterby (by the 7-11).
8. Weather Predicted to be Unpredictable
Sausalito’s hottest days of the year often come in September. If you’re not in the music performance tent or inside the Bay Model there is not a lot of shade at the Festival, and it’s easy to get sunburned.
It’s likely to feel hot in the open sun, and may be chilly in the shade outside the tents if the afternoon breeze comes up, so dress in layers to be ready.
9. Can You Break a $10,000 Bill for Me, Buddy?
Art prices run from a $5 necklace to a $10,000 sculpture. The variety — and the talent — are amazing, but some visitors are surprised that a majority of the items for sale are over $100 and many are over $1,000.
In addition to paintings, jewelry, photography and sculpture we’ve seen rugs, woven clothing, furniture, ceramic and glass serving pieces, decorative ceramics and glass, lamps and all sorts of useful items carved from wood or cast in metal.
Insiders Tip: As great as the art is at the Festival, the artists come from all over North America and only a handful are from Sausalito. Check out the ICB Artists Association, who work together in an historic local building and whose Gallery 111 in Sausalito is only about 3 blocks from the Festival grounds.
10. Foodies and Moodies
Be prepared to stand in line for a diverse mix of County Fair style food at lunch — last year we had a gyro for lunch one day and tacos the next. You cannot bring in food or beverages, and neither breakfast nor dinner are available on site.
OK, the Sausalito Chamber of Commerce Oyster Bar is not exactly County Fair food, but you get my point! (And the Chamber does a lot of good for the community, so it’s a good cause!)
Many veteran fair-goers take in a hearty breakfast before they come, and stay in Sausalito to enjoy a great dinner at a local restaurant after the fair closes, allowing the evening traffic to dissipate before they head out. The food booths are run by local service organizations to support their programs, so the money goes to good causes.
Insiders Tip: Mid-day food lines can be long and slow. If you do eat at the Festival, eat a little earlier than the usual lunch crush or go for an afternoon snack.
Insiders Tip: Those volunteers at the food booths don’t get paid so that the proceeds go to charity, so please be considerate to them even when the lines are long and slow.
11. In-N-Out With No Drive-Thru
There’s a hand stamp so you can leave and come back, and they do check the stamps so make sure you get the stamp before leaving. Oh, and did I mention the hand stamp?
12. You Don’t Have to Stand for That
Wear comfortable shoes. You’ll be standing in line for drinks and food, and there are not a lot of places to sit down in the art area. There are seats in the main tent for the musical artists, but even those fill up early in the day and by the later musical performances chairs become a rare and precious commodity.
Insiders Tip: Much of the Festival is set up on asphalt and concrete surfaces (which can get very hot), but over half the artist booths are located on the grass of Marinship Park. Plan your footwear accordingly.
Insiders Tip: If you’re looking for a place to sit down, go to the back area of the music tent just as one act is completing its performance. Since there’s a significant gap between acts some people will get up and leave, freeing a seat for you. The number of such freed chairs, however, declines as the day goes on!
Disabled Seating: Ask Festival staff regarding any special needs and they’ll be happy to get you seated. The SAF makes this a priority so don’t hesitate to ask anyone who works there.
Here’s the KGO TV preview from a few years ago:
Google Map Instructions: Use the “+” and “-” buttons to zoom in and out, click and grab to scroll the map, and the SAT button to see the satellite view.