Spring House Tour
Sponsored by the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association, this tour provides access to some of the city’s many architecturally interesting homes. Related talks are usually scheduled.
In Live Oak Park. Free; optional $5 donation for raffle ticket that benefits Himalayan charities.
This outdoor celebration is put on by the Bay Area’s Tibetan, Nepalese, Indian, and other Himalayan peoples. Founded in 1983 by Arlene Blum, who led the first female expedition up Annapurna and who was part of the 1976 Bicentennial Everest Expedition that set an altitude record for American women, the colorful festival celebrates authentic Himalayan arts, crafts, foods, music, dance, and entertainment.
Berkeley Kite Festival & West Coast Kite Championships
In Cesar E. Chavez Park at Berkeley Marina. Free.
Tell someone to “go fly a kite” at this exhilarating event. Or better yet, tag along and see kites galore, plus Japanese-style Rokkaku kite battles and taiko drummers.
Along Solano Ave. Free.
This mile-long block party is the oldest and largest free street festival in the East Bay. The entire 20-block length of Solano Avenue is blocked off to cars, and strollers can browse and munch their way from one end to the other. A big claim to fame is that in 1996 buffalo Bob and Howdy Doody shared the role as grand marshal.
Berkeley Indigenous Peoples Day Pow Wow & Indian Market
Held at Martin Luther King, Jr. Civic Center Park. Free.
Berkeley was the first city in the entire world to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day. A vibrant cultural event here, it is now celebrated throughout the country. Everyone is invited to dance within all the round dances, and crafts booths are on site.
International Taiko Festival
At U.C. Berkeley, Zellerbach Hall.
It’s hard to imagine something more exhilarating than witnessing one muscle-bound taiko drummer after another beating out an intoxicating primal rhythm. Dating back 2,000 years, the thunderous sound of these drums was once used to stimulate rain and then, later, to signal Japanese armies into battle. It is said to be the heartbeat of the Japanese people. San Francisco’s internationally acclaimed Taiko Dojo usually performs on a 1-ton, 12-foot-high drum–the largest in the western hemisphere.
November & December
Berkeley Artisans Holiday Open Studios
This self-guided tour allows participants to meet the artists in their studios and to purchase quality gifts. My personal favorite locations are:
●Berkeley Potters Guild
731 Jones St./Fourth St.
In this beehive of studios and sales displays, you’ll find everything ceramic, from attractive bowls and coffee cup to colorful tree ornaments to unusual jewelry.
930 Dwight Way/8th St.
Named for its zig-zag roofline, this sprawling building holds a warren of more than artist 50 studios.