Things to do on a bugdet in San Francisco this spring


With the wet season departing and ever increasing sunshine, spring is a great time to visit San Francisco – and this year presents a glut of top-notch things to do.

(Photo: Howard Wesley Hall, Filmmaker)

It’s often been said that San Francisco is home to a little bit of everything. And when it comes to events and exhibitions, that’s certainly the case. If you’re coming to the central California city this spring and would like to know what’s going on during your dates of travel, we’ve looked at the upcoming calendar and picked out 10 of the best things to check out during spring 2022.

International Ocean Film Festival

Movie fans and ocean enthusiasts visiting San Francisco in April are in for a treat with the city playing host to this acclaimed film festival. First held back in 2004, the festival provides a platform for the showcasing of independent films from around the world that explore the ever-growing need to preserve and protect the world’s oceans. Themes range from ocean adventure, science, marine life, sports and ocean coastal cultures. There are also post-screening filmmaker Q&A sessions as well as panel discussions with ocean specialists, scientists, industry experts, filmmakers and more.

Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture, 2 Marina Boulevard / 7-10 April 2022

‘Nature × Humanity’ exhibition

(Photo: Neri Oxman and The Mediated Matter Group, Aguahoja Pavilion 2018; San Fancisco Museum of Modern Art, gift of Massachusetts Institute of Technology; © Massachusetts Institute of Technology; photos: The Mediated Matter Group)

What is the role of an architect in the age of climate change? By imagining a radically transformed future, this exhibition seeks to explore that very question. It features works by acclaimed American–Israeli architect, Neri Oxman, who for over a decade has been exploring whether the materials, tools, and construction of architecture are sustainable moving forward. Through thought-provoking projects that use new biomaterials and fabrication techniques, her work focusses on a singular objective: to transition from valuing human material wealth that stakes claim to land and resources to a focus on environmental health that restores and advances natural balance to mutually benefit all.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art / Through 15 May 2022

Dreams of Desire

(Photo: Zoart Photography)

This long-running immersive theatrical experience invites visitors to explore their sensuality as they journey through Venus’s sanctuary. Featuring an intricate, colourful and creative set, the actors and actresses put on a dazzlingly erotic show designed to spark your sense of adventure as you embark on an introspective voyage to a place where fantasy becomes reality. Audience members are asked riddles and questions which they must answer to solve a puzzle and complete the experience. This event involves discussions of sex and intimacy and is recommended for guests 21 and over.

The Gregangelo Museum / 9 April – 21 May 2022

San Francisco International Chocolate Salon

The original and premier artisan chocolate festival on the West Coast takes place each Spring. Chocolate aficionados, buyers and journalists descend on the Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture to experience the finest in artisanal, gourmet chocolate. Participants include master chocolatiers, confectioners, and other culinary creators, with event highlights including chocolate-making demonstrations, chef and author talks, and – the pièce de resistance – chocolate tasting opportunities.

Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture, 2 Marina Boulevard / 2 April 2022

‘Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love’ exhibition

(Photo: Patrick Kelly. “Woman’s Ensemble: Coat and Dress,” Fall/Winter 1986; “Woman’s Dress,” Fall/Winter 1986; “Woman’s Dress,” Fall/Winter 1988. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gift of Bjorn Guil Amelan and Bill T. Jones in honor of Monica Brown, 2015, 2015-201-29a,b, 2015-201-124, 2014-207-11. Image courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art)

Celebrating the legacy of the late Black fashion designer Patrick Kelly, this exhibition presents 79 fully accessorised ensembles, dating from 1984 to 1990. Kelly drew upon his childhood in the US South, his African American heritage, his experiences in the club and gay cultural scenes in New York and Paris, and muses from fashion and art to create light-hearted yet sophisticated designs that pushed racial and cultural boundaries. The exhibition situates Kelly’s work in the broader context of art and fashion history by exploring the inspirations behind his designs, his collection of racist memorabilia, and footage from his exuberant and groundbreaking fashion shows.

De Young Museum / Through 24 April 2022

XOXO: An Exhibit About Love & Community

(Photo: Mario Jerez, Children’s Creativity Museum)

Suitable for kids aged 2-12, this exhibition invites children (and their caregivers) to take a deep breath and focus on the here and now. Visitors can work together through hands-on activities to spark conversations, share emotions, and most of all, play and nurture your child’s creative confidence. Whether you feel whimsical and silly, heartfelt and emotional, or maybe even a little vulnerable, the exhibition is designed to make you feel safe and comfortable exploring such emotions. Highlights include the chance to illuminate a hidden message about love by holding hands, building and exploring a variety of facial expressions using empathy blocks, and creating silhouettes using a unique set up of light boxes.

Children’s Creativity Museum / Through 5 September 2022

Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival

(Photo: Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival)

Japan and cherry tree blossom go together like America and rodeo, and each spring San Francisco hosts a picture-postcard festival that cultivates the continued alliance between the two nations. Held to mark the spring arrival of cherry tree blossoms, the event attracts over 200,000 visitors every year who come to enjoy the very best in Japanese food, along with rice papercrafts, a ritualistic live drum performance, and other entertainment, all set against a dazzling backdrop of cherry trees in full bloom.

Venues across Japantown / 9-17 April 2022

‘The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited’

(Photo: John E. Barrett)

Honouring the life and works of Jim Henson, trailblazing puppeteer, animator, cartoonist, actor, inventor, and filmmaker, this exhibition features more than 150 objects drawn from the beloved worlds of Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and more. It highlights Henson’s groundbreaking work for film and television, his indelible mark on popular culture, and its profound social impact. It also includes material from Henson’s experimental film projects and his early work, presenting him as a restlessly creative performer and technical innovator.

Contemporary Jewish Museum / 31 March – 14 August 2022 

‘Living with Scents’ exhibition

In recent years, researchers and practitioners, from the neurosciences to the humanities, have strived to gain a better understanding of the sense of smell, which deeply, yet often unknowingly, shapes the way we live. In the hands of contemporary designers, whose job it is to consider the interactions of minds, bodies, and things, scents are mediated in innovative ways to raise a form of new sensory awareness. This exhibition features about 40 of these designers and artists from all over the world whose work reflects and participates in the growing culturalisation of all things olfactory.

Museum of Craft and Design / Through 5 June 2022

‘Gorey’s Children’ exhibition

(Photo: Edward Gorey, In The Gymnasium, etching)

A truly prodigious and original artist, Edward St. John Gorey gave to the world over one hundred works, including The Gashlycrumb Tinies, The Doubtful Guest and The Wuggly Ump; prize-winning theatre set and costume designs; a remarkable number of illustrations in publications such as The New Yorker and The New York Times, and in books by a wide array of illustrious authors from Charles Dickens to John Updike. Featuring original artwork and limited edition serigraphs by the great man himself, this exhibition shines a light on Gorey’s wide worldview as well as his impeccable aesthetic command.

Cartoon Art Museum / Through 5 June

by Paul Joseph