A year in San Francisco

Castro Street Fair — October It's not as over the top as the Halloween party, but the Castro Street Fair (usually first weekend in October) still has plenty of PG-rated fun. Aside from the usual crafts, food and clothing vendors, this neighborhood celebration showcases dozens of community and social service organizations, as well as drag queens, lip-synchers and hard bodies, who strut their stuff on non-stop dance pavilions. The fair takes place on and around Castro St. between Market and 19th sts., starting at 11 a.m.

Mill Valley Film Festival – October What started out some 30 years ago as an entertaining, but not particularly important, film festival has grown into one of the industry's heavy hitters, drawing big names, big crowds and big movies during its two-week run. The stars and cinephiles descend in force on the tony Marin County enclave (where movie moguls such as George Lucas and Sean Penn make their home) soaking up an eclectic mix of world cinema, new media, documentaries, shorts and lesser-known Hollywood and indie releases. Events take place at CinéArts@Sequoia, 142 Throckmorton Theatre, and the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center in nearby San Rafael. Call 415-383-5256 for information, www.mvff.com.

Open Studios — October More than 800 local artists open their studios to the public during this free, month-long annual art fest – the largest of its kind in the country. The event kicks off with a "Meet the Artists" reception at SomArts Gallery (934 Brannan St., www.artspan.org), where participating artists also mount an exhibition featuring samples of their works for view and sale. Different neighborhoods are highlighted each weekend; maps with studio locations are available at SomArts Gallery.

Litquake — October Drinking and writing go together in San Francisco like fog and July, and never is this more evident than during Litquake, when the Bay Area's literary luminaries literally crawl out of the woodwork to celebrate their craft. The week-long festival features readings and performances by notables such as Dave Eggers, Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket), Amy Tan, Armistead Maupin, and many others; it's capped off with Lit Crawl, a three-and-a-half hour literary pub crawl through 30+ venues in the Mission District. Events take place all around town; for details visit www.litquake.org.

Fleet Week — October Anti-war feelings aside, San Franciscans love their pageantry, and there's usually not a dry eye in the house when the parade of Navy ships sails under the Golden Gate during Fleet Week each October (650-599-5057). The flotilla begins kicks off a week of festivities that includes an air show by the Blue Angels aerobatic flight team, a waterfront music festival, ship tours, and fireworks.

San Francisco Jazz Festival — October/November Once a locals-only event, the annual festival is now an internationally acclaimed jazzapalooza, with more than 30 events sprinkled over five weeks in venues all around San Francisco. The festival presents a full spectrum — from jazz piano legends Herbie Hancock and Ahmad Jamal, to world music immortals such as Ravi Shankar and Youssou N'Dour. Call 866-920-5299; www.sfjazz.org.

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