Memorial Day Events Around the Bay Area

Memorial Day Events Around the Bay Area

All around the Bay Area, there are Memorial Day services, ceremonies and parades to honor America’s armed forces. And as one of the first holidays on the cusp of summer, Memorial Day is also an occasion for barbecues and outdoor fun. We’ve got a collection of traditional ways to celebrate — flag raisings and wreath layings — as well as some opportunities for levity around the Bay Area. 

Speaking of barbecues, if you’re planning to celebrate by getting out the grill, we got together some tips and tricks from local chefs to help you celebrate.

Here’s just a taste of some of the Bay Area’s Memorial Day offerings. 

 

Featured photo by Chad Madden. 

Ceremonies and Parades

San Francisco

American flags on the gravestones at San Francisco's National Cemetery for veterans on Memorial Day.
Photo by Frank Schulenburg via Wikimedia.
May 27

The U.S.’s Veteran Affairs Department conducts the yearly Memorial Day service at San Francisco’s National Cemetery in the Presidio. This ceremony is free and open to the public, as are 130 other ceremonies held by the VA every Memorial Day. 

North Bay

American flag sticks out of ground at graveyard
Photo by Chad Madden.
May 27

Marin County honors veterans at this yearly service at the Marin Center. Flag displays, music and ceremonies are all part of this program to honor those who have served.

Hand waves an American flag
Photo by Paul Weaver.
May 27

Every year the town comes together to honor those who served at this annual parade of community groups, fun floats and plenty of red, white and blue. It’s a family-forward celebration, with a post-parade carnival plus the yearly K–8 essay contest on “What does Memorial Day mean to me and my family?” It’s one of Mill Valley’s biggest annual events. 

East Bay

Military planes fly in neat order for Memorial Day in Alameda
Photo courtesy of Memorial Squadron Facebook.
May 27

On Alameda’s historic museum ship USS Hornet, a retired aircraft carrier, the Sea, Air and Space Museum will hold a wreath laying and flyover by the Memorial Squadron to honor veterans. The accomplished Rear Admiral Michael S. Baker will speak, and attendees can browse military history books for sale from the museum. The ceremony begins at 10 a.m., with the flyover occurring at 1 p.m. 

South Bay

Military vehicle with veterans driving down the street in Memorial Day Parade in Hillsborough, California
Photo courtesy of Hillsborough Memorial Day Parade.
May 27

The city of Hillsborough on the Peninsula holds a festive Memorial Day parade every year with marching bands, mounted patrols and community groups all making their way through the city. Be sure to stick around for the music festival slash carnival that follows the parade. 

Barbecue Hacks

Pair of tongs flip meat on grill for Memorial Day barbecue
Photo by Paul Hermann.

Trying to elevate your potato salad? Or maybe you’re stuck deciding between hickory and oak wood when smoking your meats? Get all your questions answered with our Memorial Day barbecue guide. Local Getaways sat down with four Bay Area chefs to get the hottest tips on how to play with fire (AKA prepare the best barbecue for your Memorial Day celebrations). 

More Events on Memorial Day Weekend

San Francisco

Carnaval performer in gold costume with feathers at Carnaval parade and festival in San Francisco, California
Photo by Daniel Beck.
May 25–26

Five performance stages, dozens of musicians, hundreds of vendors, 17 blocks worth of street party and one grand parade: San Francisco’s Carnaval festival is BIG. And feathered! This year’s parade theme is “Honor Indigenous Roots,” highlighting the celebration’s pre-Colombian history and the many native influences within Carnaval traditions. Moreover, the festival celebrates the Mission in all its glory and the diverse Latin American, Caribbean and African cultures within it. 

North Bay

Mianoan dancers at the Marin Greek Festival in Novato, California
Photo courtesy of Nativity of Christ church.
May 24–26

Dive into a gyro at this yearly gathering on a hill in Southern Novato. Surrounded by green rolling hills, visitors can participate in traditional dance or shop their hearts out at the indoor marketplace. Saturday and Sunday feature day-long celebrations, while Friday’s event is an evening glendi (Greek for “celebration”), with live music and dancing to finish off your week. 

Men barbecue at Memorial Day Volunteer Fireman's Barbecue
Photo courtesy of Muir Beach Volunteer Firefighter's Association.
May 26

The city of Hillsborough on the Peninsula holds a festive Memorial Day parade every year with marching bands, mounted patrols and community groups all making their way through the city. Be sure to stick around for the music festival slash carnival that follows the parade. 

East Bay

Friends smile and pose at Afro Soca Love in Oakland, California
Photo courtesy of Afro Soca Love Facebook.
May 25

Carnival meets block party at this day-long celebration of the African diaspora. Afro Soca Love is an organization that connects communities from around the world, hosting pop-ups from D.C. to Nairobi. This event in Oakland invites all to come engage with these diverse communities with music, food and a large marketplace of vendors from Black-owned businesses. 

South Bay

Mushrooms grow out of mossy ledge in forest in Morgan Hill, California
Photo by Vinu T via Unsplash.
May 25–26

Mushroom art. Mushroom dishes. Mushroom beer?! Learn about, buy and eat all things mushroom at the Morgan Hill Mushroom Festival. Not just a two-day festival for all things mycological, this event also boasts multiple music stages, hours of live entertainment and plenty of shopping on the street. With all these activities, it’s no wonder that the festival is 44 years strong.

Napa Valley

Neon lights at BottleRock Napa Valley
May 24–26

Wine country’s biggest music festival is popping off once again. This year’s lineup mixes old-guard stars with some of the biggest acts of today. Case in point: Stevie Nicks co-headlines the first night with Megan Thee Stallion.

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