Art & Soul Festival
Location: Downtown Oakland with entrances at 14th Street & Broadway, 16th Street & San Pablo Avenue, Promenade beside City Center West Garage (off Martin Luther King Jr. Way between 12th and 14th streets)
Hours: Sat & Sun 12 to 6pm, end of August
Description: The Art and Soul festival is as synonymous with Oakland as the Kite Festival is to Berkeley. It is an annual event you can count on to keep coming back year after year. I went to my first Art and Soul event when I was in high school. Back then it was a free event with one stage wrapped around a few corners of downtown Oakland. Today it is a much bigger event! There are now four stages with live music, a giant kids zone complete with rides and bounce houses, a BBQ competition, too many food vendors to choose from, adult beverages, and literally blocks and blocks of craft vendors. Oh did I mention you now have to pay just to get in the gates? A lot has changed over the years but the heART and soul of it have not. The event still brings out Oakland's most talented artists both on the stage and in the stands. You can find any type of novelty you are looking for. The Kids Zone has so much stuff going on, your kids will be entertained all day, or two days. The event is for the whole weekend so if you miss out on things on Saturday you can go back for another round on Sunday. It can get a little expensive with tickets, food, kid rides, and a vendor that catches your eye- so just know that going in to the situation. No matter how much money you end up spending, it is an afternoon worth spending with your friends and family.
Highlights: There are so many kids activities, the kid zone is really extensive now. Once you pay to get in the concerts are free, so find a good spot to park and catch a good show.
Tips: If you can Bart- parking is nuts! It's downtown Oakland so you may end up parking many, many blocks away. But if you Bart you are literally let out right next to the event.