The Bay's got it all, from garlic to tango fests -- here's your handy, comprehensive guide to big spring happenings
SF Flower and Garden Show, San Mateo Event Center, 495 S. Delaware, San Mateo. (415) 684-7278, www.sfgardenshow.com . March 21-25, 10am-6pm, $15–$65, free for 16 and under. This year's theme is "Gardens for a Green Earth," and features a display garden demonstrating conservation practices and green design. Plant yourself here for thriving leafy greens, food, and fun in the sun.
The Art of Aging Gracefully Resource Fair, Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, 3200 California, SF. (415) 292-1200, www.jccsf.org . March 22, 9:30am-2:45pm, free. Treat yourself kindly with presentations by UCSF Medical Center professionals on healthy living, sample classes, health screenings, massages, giveaways and raffles.
California's Artisan Cheese Festival, Sheraton Sonoma County, 745 Sherwood, Petaluma. (707) 283-2888, www.artisancheesefestival.com . March 23-25, $20–$135. Finally, a weekend given over to the celebration of cultures: semi-soft, blue, goat, and cave-aged. More than a dozen award-winning cheesemakers will provide hors d'oeuvres and educational seminars.
15th Annual Rhone Rangers Grand Tasting, Fort Mason Festival Pavilion, Buchanan and Marina, SF. (800) 467-0163, www.rhonerangers.org . March 24-25, $45–$185. The largest American Rhone wine event in the country, with over 2,000 attendees tasting 500 of the best Rhones from its 100 US member wineries.
Whiskies of the World Expo, Hornblower Yacht, Pier 3, SF. (408) 225-0446, www.whiskiesoftheworld.com . March 31, 6pm-9pm, $120–$150. The expo attracts over 1400 guests intent on sampling spirits on a yacht and meeting important personages from this fine whiskey world of ours.
Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair, SF County Fair Building's Hall of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, SF. (415) 431-8355, bayareaanarchistbookfair.wordpress.com. March 31-April 1, free. This political book fair brings together radical booksellers, distributors, independent presses, and political groups from around the world.
Monterey Jazz Festival's Next Generation Festival Monterey Conference Center, One Portola Plaza, Monterey. (831) 373-3366, www.montereyjazzfestival.org . March 30-April 1, free. 1200 student-musicians from schools located everywhere from California to Japan compete for the chance to perform at the big-daddy Monterey Jazz Festival. Free to the public, come to cheer on the 47 California ensembles who will be playing, or pick an away team favorite.
Argentine Tango Festival, San Francisco Airport Marriot Hotel, 1800 Old Bayshore Highway, Burlingame. www.argentinetangousa.com . April 5-8, $157–$357. Grip that rose tightly with your molars — it's time to take the chance to dance in one of 28 workshops, with a live tango orchestra, and tango DJs. The USA Tango championship is also taking place here.
Salsa Festival, The Westin Market Street, 50 Third St., SF. (415) 974-6400. www.sfsalsafestival.com . April 5-7, $75–$125. Three nights of world-class performances, dancing, competition and workshops with top salsa instructors.
Union Street Spring Celebration and Easter Parade, Union between Gough and Fillmore, SF. (800) 310-6563, April 8, 10am-5pm, parade at 2pm, free. www.sresproductions.com/union_street_easter . A family festival with kids rides and games, a petting zoo, and music.
45th Annual Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival, Japan Center, Post and Buchanan, SF. (415) 567-4573, www.sfjapantown.org . April 14-15 and 21-22, parade April 22, free. Spotlighting the rich heritage and traditional customs of California's Japanese-Americans. Costumed performers, taiko drums, martial arts, and koto music bring the East out West.
Bay One Acts Festival, Boxcar Theatre, 505 Natoma, SF. www.bayoneacts.org . April 22 — May 12, 2012, $25–$45 at the door or online. Showcasing the best of SF indie theater, with new works by Bay Area playwrights.
Earth Day, Civic Center Plaza, SF. (415) 571-9895, www.earthdaysf.org . April 22, free. A landmark day for the "Greenest City in North America," featuring an eco-village, organic chef demos, a holistic health zone, and live music.
Wedding and Celebration Show, Parc 55 Wyndham, 55 Cyril Magnin, SF. (925) 594-2969, www.bayareaweddingfairs.com . April 28, 10:00am-5:00pm. Exhibitors in a "Boutique Mall" display every style of product and service a bride may need to help plan his or her wedding.
San Francisco International Beer Festival, Fort Mason Center, Festival Pavilion, SF. www.sfbeerfest.com . April 28, 7pm-10pm, $65. The price of admission gets you a bottomless taster mug for hundreds of craft beers, which you can pair with a side of food from local restaurants.
Pacific Coast Dream Machines Show, Half Moon Bay Airport, 9850 Cabrillo Highway North, Half Moon Bay. www.miramarevents.com/dreammachines . April 28-29, 9am-4pm, $20 for adults, kids under 10 free. The annual celebration of mechanical ingenuity, an outdoor museum featuring 2,000 driving, flying and working machines from the past 200 years.
San Francisco International Arts Festival Various venues. (415) 399-9554, www.sfiaf.org . May 2-20, prices vary. Celebrate the arts, both local and international, at this multimedia extravaganza.
Cinco de Mayo Festival, Dolores Park, Dolores and 19th St, SF. www.sfcincodemayo.com . May 5, 10am-6pm, free. Enjoy live performances by San Francisco Bay Area artists, including mariachis, dancers, salsa ensembles, food and crafts booths. Big party.
A La Carte and Art, Castro St. between Church and Evelyn, Mountain View. May 5-6, 10am-6pm, free. With vendors selling handmade crafts, micro-brewed beers, fresh foods, a farmers market, and even a fun zone for kids, there's little you won't find at this all-in-one fun fair.
Young at Art Festival, De Young Museum, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, SF. (415) 695-2441. www.youngatartsf.com . May 12-20, regular museum hours, $11. An eight-day celebration of student creativity in visual, literary, media, and performing arts.
Asian Heritage Street Celebration Larkin and McAllister, SF. www.asianfairsf.com . May 19, 11am-6pm, free. Featuring a Muay Thai kickboxing ring, DJs, and the latest in Asian pop culture, as well as great festival food.
Uncorked! San Francisco Wine Festival, Ghirardelli Square, 900 North Point, SF. (415) 775-5500, www.ghirardellisq.com . May 19, 1pm-6pm, $50 for tastings; proceeds benefit Save the Bay. A bit of Napa in the city, with tastings, cooking demonstrations, and a wine 101 class for the philistines among us.
Maker Fair, San Mateo Event Center, San Mateo. www.makerfaire.com . May 19-20, $8–$40. Make Magazine's annual showcase of all things DIY is a tribute to human craftiness. This is where the making minds meet.
Castroville Artichoke Festival, Castroville. (831) 633-2465 www.artichoke-festival.com . May 19-20, 10am-5pm, $10. Pay homage to the only vegetable with a heart. This fest does just that, with music, parades, and camping.
Bay to Breakers, Begins at the Embarcadero, ends at Ocean Beach, SF. www.zazzlebaytobreakers.com . May 20, 7am-noon, free to watch, $57 to participate. This wacky San Francisco tradition is officially the largest footrace in the world, with a costume contest that awards $1,000 for first place. Just remember, Port-A-Potties are your friends.
Freestone Fermentation Festival Salmon Creek School, 1935 Bohemian Hwy, Sonoma. (707) 479-3557, www.freestonefermentationfestival.com . May 21, Noon-5pm, $12. Answer all the questions you were afraid to ask about kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, yogurt, and beer. This funky fest is awash in hands-on demonstrations, tastings, and exhibits.
San Francisco Carnaval Harrison and 23rd St., SF. www.sfcarnaval.org . May 26-27, 10am-6pm, free. Parade on May 27, 9:30pm, starting from 24th St. and Bryant. The theme of this year's showcase of Latin and Caribbean culture is "Spanning Borders: Bridging Cultures". Fans of sequins, rejoice.
Union Street Eco-Urban Festival Union Street between Gough and Steiner, SF. (800) 310-6563, www.unionstreetfestival.com . June 2-3, 10am-6pm, free. See arts and crafts created with recycled and sustainable materials and eco-friendly exhibits, along with two stages of live entertainment and bistro-style cafes.
Haight Ashbury Street Fair, Haight between Stanyan and Ashbury, SF. www.haightashburystreetfair.org . June Date TBD, 11am-5:30pm, free. Celebrating the cultural history and diversity of one of San Francisco's most internationally celebrated neighborhoods, the annual street fair features arts and crafts, food booths, three musical stages, and a children's zone.
San Mateo County Fair, San Mateo County Fairgrounds, 2495 S. Delaware, San Mateo. www.sanmateocountyfair.com . June 9-17, 11am-10pm, $6–$30. Competitive exhibits from farmers, foodies, and even technological developers, deep-fried snacks, games — but most importantly, there will be pig races.
Queer Women of Color Film Festival Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, SF. (415) 752-0868, www.qwocmap.org . June 8-10 times vary, free. Three days of screenings from up-and-coming filmmakers with unique stories to tell.
Harmony Festival, Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley, Santa Rosa. www.harmonyfestival.com . Date TBA. One of the Bay Area's best camping music festivals and a celebration of progressive lifestyle, with its usual strong and eclectic lineup of talent.
North Beach Festival, Washington Square Park, SF. (415) 989-2220, www.northbeachchamber.com . June 16-17, free. This year will feature over 150 art, crafts, and gourmet food booths, three stages, Italian street painting, beverage gardens and the blessing of the animals.
Marin Art Festival, Marin Civic Center, 3501 Civic Center Drive, San Rafael. (415) 388-0151, www.marinartfestival.com . June 16-17, 10am-6pm, $10, kids under 14 free. Over 250 fine artists in the spectacular Marin Civic Center, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Enjoy the Great Marin Oyster Feast while you're there.
Sierra Nevada World Music Festival, Mendocino County Fairgrounds Booneville. (916) 777-5550, www.snwmf.com . June 22-24, $160. A reggae music Mecca, with Jimmy Cliff, Luciano, and Israel Vibration (among others) spreading a message of peace, love, and understanding.
Gay Pride Weekend Civic Center Plaza, SF; Parade starts at Market and Beale. (415) 864-FREE, www.sfpride.org . June 23-24, Parade starts at 10:30am, free. Everyone in San Francisco waits all year for this fierce celebration of diversity, love, and being fabulous.
Summer SAILstice, Encinal Yacht Club, 1251 Pacific Marina, Alameda. 415-412-6961, www.summersailstice.com . June 23-24, 8am-8pm, free. A global holiday celebrating sailing on the weekend closest to the summer solstice, these are the longest sailing days of the year. Celebrate it in the Bay Area with boat building, sailboat rides, sailing seminars and music.
Stern Grove Festival, Stern Grove, 19th Ave. and Sloat, SF. (415) 252-6252, www.sterngrove.org . June 24-August 26, free. This will be the 75th season of this admission-free music, dance, and theater performance series.
4th of July on the Waterfront, Pier 39, Beach and Embarcadero, SF. www.pier39.com  12pm-9pm, free. Fireworks and festivities, live music — in other words fun for the whole, red-white-and-blue family.
High Sierra Music Festival, Plumas-Sierra Fairgrounds, Lee and Mill Creek, Quincy. www.highsierramusic.com . July 5-8, gates open 8am on the 5th, $185 for a four-day pass. Set in the pristine mountain town of Quincy, this year's fest features Ben Harper, Built To Spill, Papodosio, and more.
Oakland A's Beer Festival and BBQ Championship, (510) 563-2336, www.oakland.athletics.mlb.com . July 7, 7pm, game tickets $12–$200. A baseball-themed celebration of all that makes a good tailgate party: grilled meat and fermented hops.
Fillmore Street Jazz Festival, Fillmore between Jackson and Eddy, SF. (800) 310-6563, www.fillmorejazzfestival.com . July 7-8, 10am-6pm, free. The largest free jazz festival on the Left Coast, this celebration tends to draw enormous crowds to listen to innovative Latin and fusion performers on multiple stages.
Midsummer Mozart Festival, Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness, SF (also other venues in the Bay Area). (415) 627-9141, www.midsummermozart.org . July 19-29, $50. A Bay Area institution since 1974, this remains the only music festival in North America dedicated exclusively to Mozart.
Renegade Craft Fair, Fort Mason Center, Buchanan and Marina, SF. (415) 561-4323, www.renegadecraft.com . July 21-22, free. Twee handmade dandies of all kinds will be for sale at this DIY and indie-crafting Mecca. Like Etsy in the flesh!
Connoisseur's Marketplace, Santa Cruz and El Camino Real, Menlo Park. July 21-22, free. This huge outdoor event expects to see 65,000 people, who will come for the art, live food demos, an antique car show, and booths of every kind.
The San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, locations TBA, SF. (415) 558-0888, www.sfshakes.org . July 23-August 28, free. Shakespeare takes over San Francisco's public parks in this annual highbrow event. Grab your gang and pack a picnic for fine, cultured fun.
Gilroy Garlic Festival, Christmas Hill Park, Miller and Uvas, Gilroy. (408) 842-1625, www.gilroygarlicfestival.com . July 27-29, $17 per day, children under six free. Known as the "Ultimate Summer Food Fair," this tasty celebration of the potent bulb lasts all weekend.
27th Annual Berkeley Kite Festival & West Coast Kite Championship, Cesar E. Chavez Park at the Berkeley Marina, Berk. (510) 235-5483, www.highlinekites.com  July 28-29, 10am-5pm, free. Fancy, elaborate kite-flying for grown-ups takes center stage at this celebration of aerial grace. Free kite-making and a candy drop for the kiddies, too.
Up Your Alley Fair, Dore between Howard and Folsom, SF. (415) 777-3247, www.folsomstreetfair.org . July 29, 11am-6pm, free with suggested donation of $7. A leather and fetish fair with vendors, dancing, and thousands of people decked out in their kinkiest regalia, this is the local's version of the fall's Folsom Street Fair mega-event.