The Yerba Buena Gardens Festival team has made it easy to have fun for free this summer with 11 children-centered events! Most happen twice on the same day. You can take a break from creating in the museum and enjoy lunch outside with live music and performances. Below, you will find all of the events and their times. Be sure to mark your calendars for this jam-packed summer!
What’s in that box, you ask? In the hands of Ka-Hon, a gentle spring shower, a flamenco troupe, a galloping stallion and a rumba circle. Drawing on a pan-American array of rhythms, the high-energy ensemble displays the astounding versatility of the humble cajón, a simple wooden box usually played by a percussionist seated atop it. Founded in 2012 by some of the Bay Area’s finest Latin percussionists, Ka-Hon features Venezuelan-born Omar Ledezma, Peru’s Braulio Barrera and Pedro Rosales, and Mexican-born José Roberto Hernandez and Javier Cabanillas. Known for highly interactive performances, this band creates an experience that’s definitely outside the box.
2. Pi Clowns
Silliness is very serious business for the Pi Clowns. A company dedicated to knock-about physical comedy, these performers don’t tell jokes. They embody them with robust and timeless antics. Blending mime, theater, acrobatics, juggling and improvisation, the Pi Clowns deliver delightful and original clown vignettes. Pi members have worked as performers, teachers and technicians for world-class institutions from Cirque Du Soleil and The New Pickle Circus to the San Francisco Circus Center and Teatro ZinZanni.
3. Circus Bella – Up in the Air
Circus Bella delights in the totally unexpected, with circus feats, ringleader surprises and aerial splendor, and as always, the Circus Bella All-Star Band! The brand new show, directed by Abigail Munn, aka High-Flying Abigail, also features the popular “BIG JUGGLE” – Circus Bella’s loving reference to its Pickle Family Circus roots. Come one, come all! Circus Bella is in town.
4. Unique Derique
A beloved Bay Area institution, the Unique Derique is a prince among clowns, an internationally esteemed performer who has honed a singular blend of physical comedy and hambone body percussion. Derique (aka Lance McGee) started clowning in Berkeley at 15 with Circus A La Mode and later joined San Francisco’s Pickle Family Circus. He’s also a licensed drama therapist and school counselor who teaches mindfulness. Whether he’s in a park, Harlem’s storied Apollo Theatre, or collaborating with Bobby McFerrin, The Temptations, or the late Sammy Davis Jr., the Unique Derique earns gales of laughter with his wildly imaginative skits.
5. Duniya Dance and Drum
Duniya Dance and Drum cultivates respect for the music and dance of Guinea, West Africa and Punjab, India, as well as the history of these forms and the people who practice them, by creating and presenting traditional dance and music from these regions. They build awareness of and exchange between diasporic and traditional populations by creating innovative work that crosses boundaries of genres and explores cross-cultural themes, and by taking students annually to Guinea, West Africa.
6. Chelle! & Friends
Led by New Orleans-native Michelle Jacques, a soul-steeped vocalist with a big, bold voice, Chelle! & Friends bring to the Gardens a family-friendly taste of the Crescent City, the cradle of so much essential American music. Chelle! & Friends is made up of some of the most distinguished and accomplished musicians in the San Francisco Bay Area, including Rhonda Crane and Bryan Dyer on vocals and percussion, Donna Viscuso on saxophone, Eric Swinderman on guitar, Kevin Scott on bass and Michaelle Goerlitz on drums. Chelle! & Friends deliver music that’s steeped in the cadences of gospel and animated by the earthy grooves of R&B and the Caribbean. Join the party, move your feet, sing along and join a Mardi Gras parade!
7. Alphabet Rockers
Over the past decade, the Alphabet Rockers have honed a supremely engaging hip-hop act designed for children and families. With singer/songwriter Kaitlin McGaw and beatboxer/b-boy/rapper Tommy Shepherd, this powerhouse group makes the world come alive through beats, rhymes, songs and dances.
8. Mahealani Uchiyama
The founder and artistic director of Berkeley’s Mahea Uchiyama Center for International Dance, Mahealani Uchiyama is an award-winning dancer, musician, composer, choreographer, recording artist, and teacher. Currently an artistic director for the renowned San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival, she champions Pacific Islander culture through the company Halau Ka Ua Tuahine and as the creator and director of the annual Kapili Polynesian dance and music workshops. For this program, Halau KaUaTuahine shares songs and dances of Hawai’i and Tahiti, offering a cross section of classical and contemporary Hawaiian hula as well as joyful rhythms of the traditional Tahitian ‘ote’a and ‘aparima.
9. Dholrhythms Dance Co
There’s no reason kids can’t dance like they’re in a Bollywood epic. Featured every month at Public Works in the Mission, Dholrhythms Dance Company brings the party to the Gardens, offering a unique experience celebrating the beautiful and vibrant spirit of this traditional Punjabi folk music and dance. With the rhythm of pounding feet and the relentless energy of brilliant beats, Dholrhythms conjures an ecstatic scene from a Bollywood movie smack in the middle of the YBG. Dholrhythms highlights the ancestral and ethnic roots of the Punjabi folk dances while pushing boundaries with contemporary influences. The result is a fresh and exciting experience full of joy, energy, and passion.
10. Caterpillar Puppets
Joe Leon’s Caterpillar Puppets don’t just entertain kids and parents. His eccentric menagerie draws audiences of all ages into seemingly familiar stories that take unexpected turns. Like his version of the Big Bad Wolf and the Three Little Bla-bla-blas, or the shy artist mouse Amadeus who needs encouragement from the audience to fulfill his calling. A master puppeteer with a sly sense of humor, Leon keeps everyone entertained.
11. Red Panda Acrobats
Combining exceptional athletic skills, traditional Chinese music, and a fast-paced show sure to amaze viewers of all ages, the Red Panda Acrobats bring the ancient art of Chinese acrobatics into the 21st century with jaw-dropping displays of strength, balance and dexterity. While founded in Shanghai in 1990, the company has long called San Francisco home. With a year-round international touring schedule, the Red Panda Acrobats relish the opportunity to impress hometown audiences.