Open Studios and Litquake: A Fall Feast of Art and Literature in San Francisco

Catch the Bay Area’s long-running literary festival and open studios program in October and November.

Lovers of culture might want to plan their visit to San Francisco for the fall. Every October, the city's thriving and playful annual literary festival attracts a lineup of some of the most interesting and talented writers working today. And starting each October and extending into November, San Francisco welcomes the return of the country's oldest and longest-running open studios program, organized by ArtSpan. Here's what you need to know to experience these two beloved traditions for yourself. 

Litquake Lowdown

What started out as a day of readings in Golden Gate Park has evolved into the largest independent literary festival on the West Coast and spread to eight cities over the past 18 years.

A celebration of San Francisco’s rich community of writers and readers, the beloved Litquake (Oct. 6-14) event serves as a forum for local talent and draws national and international authors, including Nobel and Pulitzer winners, to a lineup of mostly free events at an eclectic mix of venues all over town. Participants have included Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Dave Eggers and Patti Smith, and 2017 brings Marc Maron—of the Netflix series "GLOW"—Chris Kraus and Amber Tamblyn. Highlights include a tribute to Pablo Neruda with the bookstore City Lights and a staged reading of Joan Didion’s “Slouching Towards Bethlehem.”

Local author Jaimal Yogis one of the Litquake 2017 participants.

The ultimate Litquake happening is the adults-only, booze-fueled Lit Crawl through the Mission that closes the festival (Oct. 14). The pub crawl celebrates San Francisco’s historic passion for drinking and reading with 100 venues—bars, bookstores, boutiques, galleries and even a mural-decorated alley—playing host to readings that attract nearly 10,000 people over three hours. Lovers of the written word, this is your party. 

The Return of SF Open Studios 

Every October and November, scores of San Francisco artists and gallerists open their doors to the art-loving public. For five weekends (Oct. 15-Nov. 12), SF Open Studios highlights neighborhoods where visitors can find printmaking shops, glass blowing studios,and every kind of exhibit imaginable. Entry to every open studio is free—unless of course, you can’t resist buying a piece.

Artists and volunteers at SOMArts, which will be open through the entire run of SF Open Studios.

SF Open Studios Exhibition at SOMArts

Experience over 400 unique artworks at SOMArts' SFOS exhibition representing artists from every neighborhood. Oct. 12- Nov. 11.

See "Other Moons" by Scott Idleman at SF Open Studios at the Noonan Building in the Dogpatch.

Detour to Dogpatch

Explore artistic pockets of the evolving, industrial Dogpatch, home to the Minnesota Street Project collective, plus studios in the oft-overlooked southern neighborhoods of Potrero Hill and Glen Park. Oct. 28-29.

Visit jeweler Rebecca Overmann at 1890 Bryant Street Studios.

Mission Open Studios 

Discover dozens of working artists at 1890 Bryant Street Studios. Then enjoy a leisurely stroll to explore other neighborhood spaces including Army Lofts, Workspace and the Journal Building (1540 Market St.). Nov. 11-12.

See "Tamalada (Making Tamales)" by Carmen Lomas Garza

Hunters Point Shipyard and Islais Creek Artists

Only open three times a year to the public, the Hunters Point Shipyard & Islais Creek Artists Open Studios is a unique opportunity to view work by over 400 visual artists, musicians and writers who work in the nation’s largest artist collective, located on a former U.S. naval base with beautiful view of the San Francisco Bay. Oct. 14-15.