San Francisco 420 events mega-guide

June 19, 2017
​Tens of thousands of folks light up before during and after 4:20 p.m. on Hippie Hill. in San Francisco.
By David Downs
​Tens of thousands of folks light up before during and after 4:20 p.m. on Hippie Hill. in San Francisco.
SOURCE: By David Downs

The date 4/20 is known as a celebration for marijuana enthusiasts around the globe, but the stoner holiday has its roots firmly planted in the Bay Area.

A group of San Rafael high school kids known as the “Waldos” coined the term in the early 1970s. They would meet after school promptly at 4:20 p.m. for an extracurricular smoke session. The term found its way to the wider world through the tireless touring ethic of the Grateful Dead, who shared both personal as well as geographical connections to the Waldos. “420” would eventually become a cultural phenomenon in the early ’90s when former “High Times” reporter Steven Bloom attended a Dead show and eventually came across a flyer describing the term. This year, partake in both your love for cannabis as well as hometown pride with a variety of events perfect for celebrating 420. Check out the best Bay Area 420 events below.

​Tens of thousands of folks light up before during and after 4:20 p.m. on Hippie Hill. in San Francisco.
David Downs, San Francisco Chronicle

Tens of thousands of folks light up before during and after 4:20 p.m. on Hippie Hill. in San Francisco.

Gathering at Hippie Hill

San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park has become somewhat of a religious grounds for pot lovers, as tens of thousands of people flock annually to the section affectionately referred to as Hippie Hill. While the informal celebration has caused some major fracas in past years, the city is officially permitting and sanctioning this year’s event. Expect smoother foot traffic, better amenities and security, and hopefully a lot more civility. [4:20 p.m. Thursday, April 20; Free; Golden Gate Park;]

Berner Presents Hippie Hill

If you prefer to celebrate 420 with more hip-hop and substantially less chaos, then join Bay Area rapper Berner and friends at his yearly music festival held at the Bill Graham Auditorium. Blaze one with Berner and up and coming rappers YG, Kevin Gates, Lil B, Young Dolph, Jesse Royal, Kool John and Rich the Kid. [5:30 p.m. Thursday April 20; $59.50; Bill Graham Civic Auditorium; Berner Presents Hippie Hill]

Banks & Steelz

While Berner might be a little too new for old school hip-hop heads, an evening spent with the Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA is just perfect. The renowned emcee and producer recently teamed up with Paul Banks of indie rock darlings Interpol for their new project, Banks & Steelz. Catch the New York natives for an intimate performance at the Independent, which will also include a DJ set from Dan the Automator. [7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 20. $25 The Independent; Banks & Steelz]

The Summer of Love Experience

Reconnect with the Bay Area’s rich history of hippie culture with the de Young Museum's latest exhibit celebrating the 50th anniversary of the legendary San Francisco summer of 1967. The exhibit includes more than 300 significant cultural artifacts, including iconic posters, photographs, and costumes. [Friday April 14 - Sunday August 20; $25; de Young Museum; The Summer of Love Experience]

420 Food Truck Celebration

If stuffing your face with delicious munchies is more of your thing, Spark Social SF is gathering the Bay’s best food trucks to serve food and drinks specially priced at $4.20, which includes pints of craft beer and glasses of homemade sangria, for those looking to get crossfaded with pot. [11 a.m. - 9 p.m. Thursday April 20; Free admission; SparkSF Gastropark; 601 Mission Bay Blvd North; 420 Food Truck Celebration]

Psychedelic Science Conference

Sometimes the best way to celebrate cannabis is to learn more about it. For those interested in both education as well as a good time, Oakland’s Psychedelic Science Conference will provide six days of conferences and workshops exploring both the risks and benefits of marijuana and other mind-expanding substances. The event's "Marketplace" is free to the public and open each day with an art gallery, and tons of talks, concerts and panels. [Wednesday, April 19 - Monday April 24; $150-$450; Oakland Marriott City Center; Psychedelic Science 2017]

420 Freedom Festival

This all-encompassing three-day celebration aims to provide everything needed to properly celebrate stoner culture. The massive festival will be home to this year’s Hempcon Cup, which will honor and award the Bay Area’s best marijuana flowers, edibles, and products. The festival grounds will also include vendors stocked with some of the finest cannabis products available for sale. If that weren’t enough, the weekend also comes packed with an impressive lineup of reggae artists such as Collie Buds, Tribal Seeds, and Kymani Marley. [2:05 p.m. Friday, April 21 - Sunday April 23; $60-$150 Cow Palace; 420 Freedom Fest]