A 2016 Fleet Week participant takes a photo with an A-7D fighter aircraft in Marina Green. Photo: Gabriella Angotti-Jones / The Chronicle
The popular Fleet Week flight show and boat parade are back live and in person after the post-pandemic celebration went live in 2020. Expect the official viewing areas around Fisherman’s Wharf and on Marina Green to be quite large on Sunday October 3rd through October 11th.
For many indoor activities and crowded outdoor events, specific guidelines apply to vaccinations and / or requirements for negative test evidence. Please check Fleetweeksf.org and specific venues for the latest updates and announcements.
What is San Francisco Fleet Week?
Founded in 1981 by then Mayor Dianne Feinstein, San Francisco Fleet Week is the largest celebration in the country for the US armed forces, especially the Navy and Coast Guard.
Every October – coinciding with the Italian Heritage Weekend and overlapping with the city’s largest free outdoor music festival, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass (celebrated online in October) – locals and visitors alike visit Embarcadero, Marina Green, Fisherman’s Wharf and around around the bay for a parade of ships and weekend air shows (October 8-10). In the four decades since its inception, San Francisco Fleet Week has become a model for similar celebrations across the country.
This year the participants can be there all week and get an insight into the daily life of a seaman on guided boat tours. The USS Hornet Museum in Alameda is also open for tours and guided tours during Fleet Week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Other planned events include an Honor Our Fallen concert with the US Marine Corps 1st Marine Division Band at the Fall Theater; a dog show in Duboce Park with trained K9s to prove their skills; an online retrospective of the veteran’s art show – through 2022 for in-person events – plus plenty of wingsuits, parachutes, and more live airborne entertainment. At Marina Green, participants can visit the Humanitarian Aid Village / STEM Education Center and learn how the military responds to disasters.
Crew member Jason Graham explains hangar bay operations to Aron Rosenberg and his son Henry (9) during a public tour of the US Navy’s amphibious assault ship USS Essex during Fleet Week 2017. Photo: Paul Chinn / The Chronicle
What are the events of the week?
Honor our fallen concert
A concert with the United States Marine Corps 1st Marine Division Band.
Wednesday, October 6th 6:00 p.m. Free of charge, registration and proof of vaccination required. Fall Theater, 401 Van Ness Ave., SF
Humanitarian Aid Village
In this interactive exhibition, attendees can learn how the military responds to disasters and win prizes.
10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Friday-Sunday, 8.-10. October. For free. Marina Green, 200 Marina Blvd., SF
The Jeremiah O’Brien crosses the bay ahead of the San Francisco Fleet Week Air Show in 2018. Photo: Yalonda M James / The Chronicle
Parade of the ships
Watch the fleet weekboats pass under the Golden Gate Bridge.
11 a.m. – 12 p.m. Friday October 8th. For free. Visible from different places in the bay.
Weekly Fleet Air Show
Watch a fleet of aircraft including the US Navy Blue Angels, US Coast Guard and others perform aeronautical wonders over the bay.
10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Friday, October 8; 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday 9-10 October For free. Premium seat tickets range from $ 85 to $ 325. Marina Green and viewpoints around the bay.
The Blue Angels will practice their flight maneuvers near Alcatraz Island over San Francisco Bay in 2019. Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez / The Chronicle
See trained K9s demonstrate their skills in urban search and rescue, detection, and more.
10 am-2pm Saturday, October 9th. For free. Duboce Park, SF
Hop aboard destroyers, cruisers, and amphibious carriers for a glimpse into the lives of seafarers.
10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday, 6-7. October and Saturday-Sunday 9-10. October; Monday, October 11th, 9 am-12pm. More information available online. The Embarcadero, Piers 30, 32 and 35, SF
The kick-off party of the Guards Fleet Week
Start Fleet Week with the Guardsmen’s opening ceremony while the planes practice for the weekend show. Get great views from this waterfront venue with indoor and outdoor seating, an open bar and hors d’oeuvres. Customers are encouraged to “dress to impress”.
Thursday, October 7th, 2-5pm. $ 160- $ 175, reservations and proof of vaccination required. St. Francis Yacht Club, 99 Yacht Road, SF guardsmen.org
Spinsters of San Francisco Presents: 12th Annual Fleet or Flight Party
To celebrate active and former members of our armed forces, dress in sailor or aviator clothing and contribute to the nonprofit Oasis for Girls in San Francisco. This event includes a photo box, a raffle, a “Fleet or Flight” outfit competition and more.
6-9 p.m. Friday, October 8th. $ 45- $ 55, reservations required. Jaxson, 3231 Fillmore St., SF 415-335-6282. bit.ly/fleetorflightparty
The U.S. Pacific Fleet Band plays at Pier 39 during Fleet Week 2016. Photo: Liz Hafalia / The Chronicle
Fleet week in Discover Polk
The Heart of Polk Gulch will host a street party with live performances by military bands, vintage cars on display, a family reunion in Helen Wills Park (Broadway and Larkin streets) in the morning (details to be announced), local merchants and street vendors.
1 p.m. – 8 p.m. Oct. 9 Free. 1552 Polk St. and environs, SF 415-481-2845. bit.ly/fleetweekdiscoverpolk
SS Red Oak Victory Fleet Week pancake breakfast
Hop aboard a WWII veteran ship moored in Rosie the Riveter / World War II Home Front National Historical Park for breakfast and live swing music from the Rossmoor Big Band. Meet and hear stories from Navy veterans as the Blue Angels fly over on their way to the Fleet Week Air Show.
09: 00-12: 30 October 10th. $ 5- $ 27, reservations, and proof of vaccination required. SS Red Oak Victory, 1337 Canal Blvd., Point Richmond. redoakvictory.us
Salsa by the Bay Rooftop Rumba: Fleet Week Edition
Dance on the rooftop with live DJ sets from Walt Digz, Tony O, and Pablo while you take in city skyline views and the air show.
2-8 p.m. Sunday, October 10th. $ 10- $ 80, registration required. 21 and older. Westfield Sky Terrace San Francisco Center, 835 Market St., SF jaffeevents.com
People gather at the Coit Tower to watch the planes fly over the bay during Fleet Week 2014. Photo: Daniel E. Porter / The Chronicle
What’s the mood?
Fleet Week brings out people of all ages who want to honor soldiers in uniform and those who come mainly to see the planes and naval ships in action. On board ship tours, people may have the option of holding portable rocket launchers, aiming howitzers, and even cranking a mortar into firing position. Children can be seen on their parents’ shoulders, marveling at the aerial photographs, while others lie on blankets in the fields of Marina Green or stroll along the paths on the bridges of San Francisco.
For those with pets, it is a good idea to leave them at home if they don’t like loud noises.
People visit a Navy CH-53 helicopter on the flight deck of the USS Essex, which is docked at Pier 30-32, as Fleet Week 2017 begins. Photo: Michael Macor / Die Chronik
Where is it?
Most of the official Fleet Week events take place along the Marina and Embarcadero, with a few other stops in town. The K9 Heroes dog show will take place on October 9th at 10am in Duboce Park. Box seats and VIP seats for the air show and the boat parade are available online.
For the weekend air shows, get to Marina Green Park early to find the best seating. Twin Peaks, Pier 39, and Crissy Field also offer great views. Viewing is free. Premium seats are available for purchase.
How do I get there?
Officials recommend public transportation, especially for the events that draw the most crowds.
Muni lines 8, 28 and 47 take passengers to the Marina, North Beach and Embarcadero areas. Check the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency for updated train schedules.
The Blue Angels will practice aerial maneuvers near the Golden Gate Bridge in 2019. Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez / The Chronicle
Before you go …
Download the Fleet Week app to stay up to date on the schedule and locations of events and to hear the airshow. Bring government-issued ID for tours. No children under 7 years of age, open shoes, large backpacks, pets, weapons or food are allowed on the ships.
Visit Fleetweeksf.org for ticket information and other details.
The chronicle calendar producer Anne Schrager contributed to this story.
Editor’s note: This is an updated version of a guide that was first published in 2018.