The Uprising All-Stars open the 2019 Yerba Buena Gardens Festival — dozens of free outdoor shows May through October — at 1 p.m. Saturday. (Courtesy Yerba Buena Gardens Festival)

Yerba Buena Gardens fest kicks off with salsa

More than 100 outdoor shows in free summer series

The Yerba Buena Gardens Festival is back, with free outdoor entertainment in The City from May through October.

The 19th season begins at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 4, with a tribute to salsa pianist Charlie Palmieri featuring The Uprising All-Stars led by music director and trombone great Jimmy Bosch. Palmieri, the older brother of Latin music legend Eddie Palmieri, was a force on the New York Latin music scene from 1949, with his participation in Tito Puente’s band at the Copacabana, until his death at 60 in 1988.

The concert is the first of more than dozens of admission-free events — music, theater, circus, dance, poetry and children’s programs — in the plaza at Mission and Third streets.

“The outdoor gardens are perfect places to witness the magic of the city of San Francisco and of the world in which we live,” says program director Linda Lucero.

“Let’s Go Salsa,” the hot open-air salsa dance party (across the street in Jessie Square near the Contemporary Jewish Museum) returns at 6 p.m. Thursdays, featuring the Carlitos Medrano & Sabor De Mi Cuba (May 16); Jesús Díaz y Su QBA (June 20), Cabanijazz Project (Aug. 15) and Ricardo Lemvo & Makina Loca (Sept. 19).

Equally popular is the Thursday lunchtime series, with concerts from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. most weeks. The lineup includes oghosthaze (May 9), Community Music Center Older Adult Choirs (May 16), Afro-Cuban Ensemble of SFSU (May 23), Sandy Cressman’s Homenagem Brasileira (May 30), The Onyx (June 6), Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble (June 13), Marcus Shelby Quartet (June 20), Edgar Pantoja & the Afro-Cuban Tribe (June 27), Sueños (July 11), Murasaki Ensemble (July 25), LINES Dance Center (Aug. 8), Kim So Ra: A Sign of Rain (Aug. 15) and Rob Reich Swings Left (Aug. 22).

Other highlights include: Roma Festival featuring Dzambo Agusevi Orchestra from Macedonia (May 18), Circus Bella (June 21-22), tenor Jeremy Dutcher (June 29), Aireene Espiritu’s Tribute to Sugar Pie DeSanto (July 6), ChoreoFest (July 13-14), Brooklyn Raga Massive featuring Martha Redbone Roots Project (July 20), Ukulenny and Cynthia Lin’s SF Uke Jam Summer Uke-Splosion! (July 27), San Francisco Mime Troupe (July 28), Samora Abayomi Pinderhughes (Aug. 17), Jazz Mafia’s Brass, Bows and Beats Hip-Hop Symphony (Sept. 14) and La Misa Negra (Sept. 28).

Acts at 1 p.m. Saturdays include Tom Rigney & Flambeau (May 25), Betsayda Machado (June 1), Tunes of Sudan (June 8), Garba in the Gardens (June 15) and La Misa Negra (Sept. 28).

Seasonal cultural events include the 22nd Native Contemporary Arts Festival on June 16, the 19th AfroSolo in the Gardens (jazz with Tammy Hall, Leon Joyce Jr., Marcus Shelby, Destiny Muhammad and Ranzel Merritt) with) on Aug. 3, the 26th annual Pistahan on Aug. 10-11, and Brazil in the Gardens featuring Fabiana Cozz on Aug. 18.

Opening May 14 is Poetic Tuesdays, a Litquake-curated presentation of poets and music, continuing at 12:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month.

The Children’s Garden Series at Howard and Fourth streets offers 11 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. performances on most Fridays, opening with fun percussion by Ka-Hon on June 7 and closing with the 19th annual Halloween Hoopla from noon to 2 p.m. Oct. 27.


2019 Yerba Buena Gardens Festival

Where: Mission Street, between Third and Fourth streets, S.F.

When: May through October

Admission: Free

Contact: (415) 543-1718,

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