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Flower Piano Returns to the San Francisco Botanical Garden

July 13, 2017

Flower Piano San Francisco Botanical Garden

This summer, Flower Piano returns to the San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park from July 13 to 24. Now in it's third year, this music-filled event features a dozen pianos placed in dramatic locations throughout the 55-acre garden for anyone to play. Pianos are available to the public to play between 9 am and 6 pm every day, except during scheduled performances. Flower Piano is produced in conjunction with Sunset Piano.

My son, who's been playing piano since he was five, had a blast exploring the garden and finding and playing all 12 pianos. It's fun to stop and hear what other visitors are playing, too. Sometimes you'll be surprised with a really fantastic performance! Performances take place throughout the event, including Piano Extravaganzas from noon to 2 pm on Saturday, July 15 and July 22; check their website for a full schedule.

Fantastical Family Night at Broadway Under the Stars at Jack London State Park

July 6, 2017

Transcendence Theatre Company Fantastical Family NightPhoto: Stephan Stubbins/Transcendence

Transcendence Theatre Company’s popular Broadway Under the Stars series presents “Fantastical Family Night” for two nights only: July 14 and 15, 2017. Performances take place in the 150-year old open-air Winery Ruins at Jack London State Historic Park in Glen Ellen. This is a unique opportunity to experience fantastic, family-friendly musical theater in the spectacular setting at one of our favorite Bay Area destinations! This fun family outing begins with pre-show picnics and activities including face painting and pony rides at 5 pm, prior to the 7:30 pm show.

"Let the Funshine In!" at the 2017 Marin County Fair

June 29, 2017

Marin County Fair

Who's ready for the fair?! The 76th annual Marin County Fair opens on Friday, June 30, at the Marin County Fairgrounds in San Rafael, near the Marin Civic Center. This year's Marin County Fair theme is "Let the Funshine In!"

This year, the Fair celebrates the 50th anniversary of 1967's Summer of Love with special competitions like tie dye, macrame, and "flower power" floral art; a special exhibit on the KFRC Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival; headline concerts featuring '60s bands like Sons of Champlin and the 5th Dimension; hands-on art making; and even psychedelic virtual reality. Of course you'll also find the usual thrilling rides, popular concerts, farm animals, family activities, amazing exhibits, and a spectacular nightly fireworks display.

Petaluma's Sonoma-Marin Fair Starts Today!

June 21, 2017

Sonoma-Marin Fair

Summertime is fair time, and the first fair of the season is usually Petaluma's Sonoma-Marin Fair, which takes place at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds from Wednesday June 21 through Sunday, June 25. The Sonoma-Marin Fair is not quite but almost a county fair, and offers a wide range of fun and exciting attractions, competitions, events, and activities for the entire family.

This year's theme is "Great Eggspectations", and you'll find plenty of family fun including carnival rides with a kiddie carnival for younger children, pig races, a safari adventure, "Agventure Land" for agricultural fun, strolling clowns, jugglers, and silly characters, and artst and crafts and a petting zoo at Clo's Kids Corner. You'll also find livestock shows, agricultural exhibits, chef demonstrations, a destruction derby, and more. Of course the fair's famous World's Ugliest Dog Contest, will take place, too!

Free Outdoor Family Movies in Marin and the Bay Area

June 19, 2017

Film Night in the Park Marin County Summer

Summer means its time for free outdoor movies in Marin and the Bay Area, so grab your blankets and pillows, pack the picnic basket, and get ready to enjoy some family flicks al fresco. Here's our guide to free outdoor movies this summer and fall in Marin, San Francisco, and Sonoma County.

Most movies begin at dusk or around 8 pm; check the organizer's website for exact time and location. Some feature food trucks and even wine pairings. Popcorn is often offered for free!

In addition, the North Bay Mobile Drive-In screens movies on the side of the Old Hamilton Theater building in Novato; join their Meetup page to get notified about upcoming screenings.

June

"Disney's Beauty and the Beast" Brings Charm and Fun to the 2017 Mountain Play

May 24, 2017

Mountain Play Beauty and the Beast

This year's Mountain Play—the 104th, to be exact—is Disney's Beauty and the Beast, and we had a chance to see it on its opening day last Sunday. This family-friendly production of the Broadway musical has loads of charm and energetic fun and is a must-see live theater experience this spring!

Adapted from the animated feature of the same name, this classic fairy tale features features memorable songs by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, and Tim Rice and of course plenty of Disney fun. Beauty and the Beast is directed by Jay Manley (who also directed West Side Story on Mt. Tam last season), musical direction is by David Möschler leading a live 18-piece orchestra, and choreography is by Nicole Helfer.

The Downtown Novato Farmers Market Opens Tonight

May 2, 2017

The Downtown Novato Community Farmers Market opens for its 2017 season this evening, Tuesday, May 2. The market takes place from 4 to 8 pm on Grant Avenue between 1st and 4th Streets. Come check out an abundance of fresh produce from local farms, pony rides, bounce houses, live music, fresh prepared foods from local vendors, crafts, and more.

Bring the family for an evening of fun on Grant Avenue. Each year the Novato Farmers Market grows and improves, and boasts an impressive array of some of the Bay Area’s finest food purveyors, producers, farmers, and ranchers.

The 2017 Marin County Fair Wants Your Entries!

May 1, 2017

Marin County FairAlthough the Marin County Fair doesn't take place until this summer, now is the time to start thinking about your entries for the fair's many competitions. The deadline for entry to all competitions is on or before Thursday, May 11, 2017 at 5 pm.

Children ages 5–18 can enter any number of Junior Division competitions, including arts and crafts, hobbies, cartoon art, performing arts, photography, and creative writing, not to mention traditional preserved food, horticulture, and floral categories. Do you have a prize-winning cow, goat, or chicken in the backyard? Kids can enter all sorts of livestock in the fair. Don't have a farm animal? Don't worry—kids can also enter their furry friends in the Guinea Pig, Rabbit, or Pocket Pet (mice, rats, hamsters, turtles, and other critters) competitions.

Special theme categories for 2017 include floral headbands, tie dye, selfies, macrame, Play Doh creations, and more. There's bound to be something for everyone in the family to enter. My kids always love entering something in the fair, and it's thrilling to see what kind of ribbon you've won when you finally find your exhibit on display.

This year the Marin County Fair theme is "Let the Funshine In", a tribute the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love and it takes place June 30 to July 4 at the Marin County Fairgrounds near the Marin Civic Center in San Rafael.

Get Your Tickets Now for This Year's Mountain Play: Beauty and the Beast!

April 30, 2017

Mountain Play Beauty and the BeastDaniel Rubio (Beast) and Chelsea Holifield (Belle). Photo by Ed Smith

Everyone in my family is looking forward to this year's 104th Mountain Play: Disney's Beauty and the Beast! Performances of this production of the hit Broadway musical take place at 2 pm in Mt. Tam's Cushing Memorial Amphitheater on May 21 and 28, and June 4, 11, and 18. The cast includes Chelsea Holifield as Belle and Daniel Rubio as Beast. Come be a part of this century-old Marin County tradition!

Based on the Academy Award-winning Disney animated feature, the stage version of this beloved story includes all of the wonderful songs written by Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman along with new songs by Menken and Tim Rice. The original Broadway production ran for over 13 years and was nominated for nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

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