31 Things to Do In Marin and the Bay Area This October: The Mill Valley Film Festival, a Play From Straus Home Ranch and Spooky Halloween Events


Oct 21–Nov 13

Actress and playwright Viven Straus admits that her favorite thing to do is talk to cows. This is not odd for Straus, the founder of the California Cheese Trail and manager of Straus Home Ranch in Marshall, her former childhood home. The child of Ellen Straus, co-founder of Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) and innovative dairyman Bill Straus, she is also the sister of Albert Straus, who owns and operates Straus Family Creamery. Perhaps, then, it is in the Straus spirit that the title of her new play is “After I’m Dead, You’ll Have to Feed Everyone.”

Straus, who had a terrific relationship with her mother, told Ellen she was writing a play about her before she passed in 2002. “When she died many funny things happened and I thought, ‘I have to write these down,” Straus said. “She was someone people really loved and she had a tremendous impact on Marin County.”  Straus calls the play a love letter to her mom, Marin’s dairy godmother, a play in which Straus plays the parts of herself, Ellen and, you guessed it a cow. “I play 10 humans and one cow in the play,” Straus confirms. Performed in a barn at the Straus Home Ranch, the show is sure to be as unique as each Straus family member.

Oct 1 Chelsea Handler

The television host, best-selling author (Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea) and comedian who recently released her first stand-up special in over six years, “Chelsea Handler: Evolution,” takes to the stage for a live show in Saratoga.

Oct 1 Imagine That

With a repertoire of enchantments, mind reading, and magic tricks, illusionist David Gerard headlines the entertainment alongside dinner from chef Catherine Venturini of Cuvée Wine Country Events, a mezcal tasting and more at Sonoma Valley Museum of Art’s annual gala.

Oct 1 Afrobeats

Photo courtesy of Priscilla Apple

Three of Nigeria’s biggest acts, Wizkid, Burna Boy, and Davido coheadline a new music festival in San Jose alongside Ella Mai, Skepta, Kizz Daniel, Sean Paul, Tems, and more, through October 2. 

Oct 2 Bach Keyboard Concerti

Kicking off their 50th season with a new name, Chamber Music Marin, formerly known as Mill Valley Chamber Music Society, invited harpsichordists Janine Johnson and Yuko Tanaka to lead a five string ensemble and showcase Bach’s singular genius.

Oct 3 Antony and Cleopatra

With a libretto adapted from Shakespeare’s tragedy and supplementary passages drawn from Plutarch, Virgil and other classical texts, San Francisco Opera director Elkhanah Pulitzer blends the mythic imagery of antiquity with the starry glamour of 1930s Hollywood to open the centennial season, through October 5.

Oct 4 Renewal

The Grand Opening art exhibition at the new Belvedere-Tiburon Library Art Gallery considers the act of becoming new again with forty-four artworks that range from soulful pastel portraits, to water colors while embracing nature as a new beginning or speaking to transcendence, through November 11.

Oct 5 The New Black Vanguard

Opening today and curated by Antwaun Sargent, a program of Photography between Art and Fashion will take over all of the museum’s major galleries to  highlight 100 works from 15 contemporary fashion photographers whose images present radically new perspectives on race, beauty, gender and power in the mediums of photography and art, through March 5, 2023.

Oct 6 Silversun Pickups

The band’s sixth album, “Physical Thrills,” came together in the depths of 2020 with what singer Brian Aubert calls “dream shanties,” enhancing the band’s sound with previously unexplored sonic fixtures.

Oct 7 Matt Nathanson

The San Francisco-based indie rock artist best known for his 2007 breakthrough hit “Come on Get Higher” makes a stop in town in support of his freshest album, “Last of the Great Pretenders.”

Oct 8 Pinot on the River

With proceeds benefiting Sonoma County Pride, Santa Rosa’s Old Courthouse Square hosts a day of tasting over 40 West Coast pinot noirs, including a Grand Tasting with artisan food vendors.

Oct 8 Piper on the Ridge

Bring a picnic dinner and a flashlight to watch the sun set over the Inverness Ridge and usher in a new season with the harvest moon while listening to a bagpiper’s evocative tunes at one of a slate of relaunched events from West Marin’s Environmental Action Committee.

Oct 9 Fre!heit

After a four-month delay imposed by US Customs, German choreographer David Brandstätter in collaboration with mezzo-soprano Michelle Jacques debuts “Freedom,” balancing on porcelain cups to enforce the allegory while Jacques narrates, sings and sermonizes from a repurposed pulpit.

Oct 10 Mill Valley Film Festival

Photo by Tommy Lau.

For the first time in its 45 year history, a film festival from the heart of Marin will screen movies at the Roxie in San Francisco in addition to screenings in Mill Valley, San Rafael, Larkspur, Berkeley and online while continuing the tradition of celebrating the best in American independent and world cinema, through October 16.

Oct 11 Green Film Festival

A mix of 40+ independent feature and short length films from around the world, including “For the Bees” from Oakland’s Chloë Fitzmaurice, focus on green and environmental issues in revealing ways, to view in-person at San Francisco’s Roxie Theater and online, through October 16.

Oct 12 Angela Davis

Angela Davis
Photo courtesy of Wadsworth Jarrell

Contemporary artworks assert the significance of Oakland’s Black feminism intellectual and engage with her as a historical participant in a larger narrative in a new exhibition focused on Davis and her image, Seize the Time, through June 11, 2023.

Oct 13 Family Matters

My cousin Jamie with captive audience, 2003. © Gillian Laub.

Opening today and organized into four acts, with photographs dating from 1999–2020, a solo exhibition of more than 60 photographs captures photographer Gillian Laub’s family landscape ­– emotional, psychological, and – that reflect the unfolding of a deeply conflicted and polarized nation, tearing at family ties and asking: what, in the end, really binds us together?, through April 9, 2023.

Oct 14 Outlaw Music Festival

Featuring The Avett Brothers, Black Pumas and Larkin Poe, headliner Willie Nelson is joined on stage at Shoreline Amphitheatre by his guitar playing sons, Lukas and Micah, while he tours in support of his 72nd studio album, “A Beautiful Time,” released in April.

Oct 15 New Roots Theater Festival

New Roots
Photo courtesy of New Roots Theater Festival

Brava Theater Center returns with eight original projects that center on BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ voices, including The Day the Sky Turned Orange, a theatrical concept album examining the events of September 9th, 2020 and Sign My Name to Freedom: The Unheard Songs of Betty Reid Soskin, which explores the life and music of Bay Area legend and America’s oldest living park ranger, among others, through October 16.

Oct 16 Identities

Berkeley Symphony launches its new season by exploring individual triumphs and challenges including Upon Daybreak, a world premiere from composer in residence Brian Raphael Nabors, and Violin Concerto No. 2, from pioneering African American composer Florence Price featuring violinist Rachel Barton Pine and paired with Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.

Oct 17 Delicious

Celebrating the sweetness and savoriness of life, a new, juried exhibit in San Anselmo from Cedars, a Marin County-based non-profit dedicated to supporting individuals with developmental disabilities, includes drawings, paintings, sculpture, photography, and more, through November 11.

Oct 18 The Summoning

The good folx at San Francisco-based Into The Dark are back at The Mint with an immersive experience that invites guests to a live seance where they may come face to face with demonic spirits while attempting to retrieve the severed head of an unethical vampire queen; plus the return of Fang Bang and CreepShop, through November 5. terrorvault.com

Oct 19 On Beckett

Conceived and performed by Tony Award winner Bill Irwin, the Irish writer’s language and performers’ relationship to the writer will be explored in an intimate 90-minute evening, through October 23.

Oct 20 Bay Area Walls

Resistance and resilience are themes at an installation from Oakland-based artist Sadie Barnette. Echoes of the 1960s from the Fisher and SFMOMA Collections, brings together personal and political events from that era in photo murals, images of otherworldly everyday objects and text-based drawings to reflect on Black legacies and collective possibilities across space and time, through June 2023. 

Oct 21 Astianatte

Photo courtesy of Valentina Sadiul

An opera from 18th century Italian composer Leonardo Vinci (no, not ‘da Vinci’) is based on legends from Homer’s Iliad and recounts the tragedy of Andromaca (Andromache), widow of the Trojan hero Hector following their loss to the Greeks, with plenty of gender reversals and heaps of duty and honor at the expense of all, through October 23.

Oct 22 Sandcastle Classic

San Francisco’s Ocean Beach is once again taken over by architecture, design, technology, engineering and construction companies in partnership with students from local schools to build what they can while raising funds for arts and architecture education for more than 8,500 Bay Area public school students.

Oct 23 Anderson Valley Wine Harvest Celebration

A new event honoring the season includes a weekend’s worth of events at 27 wineries, a pig roast in the tradition of a French “boucherie” festival with renowned chef Scott Baird, and an evening of Cinema in the Vineyard hosted by Mendocino Film Festival.

Oct 24 Champagne Week

Champagne Week
Photo courtesy of Rachel Weil

Not content to limit the thrill of France’s bubbly export to its anointed Day (Oct 28), Auberge du Soleil is celebrating all week with a six-course prix fixe paired tasting menu from Executive Chef Robert Curry, courtyard wine tastings from iconic Champagne producers, Champagne cocktails and more bubbly throughout the resort, through October 30.

Oct 25 Faith Ringgold

Bringing together more than 50 years of work, including her experimental story quilts and paintings of her renowned American People and Black Light series, this retrospective of the American artist traces the artist’s evolution that expanded to consider the political and social changes taking place in the United States throughout her life, through November 27.

Oct 26 Beethoven’s Cello Sonata

Though it may be surprising that Beethoven was the first composer to bring the cello into a solo voice, pianist Ian Scarfe and special guest cellist James Jaffe will perform the 3rd Cello Sonata in A Major, from the composer’s “heroic” period, with discussion and history of the music, in an online only live performance.

Oct 27 Jota Mombaça


The Brazilian interdisciplinary artist and nonbinary travesti of color (Latin American slang reappropriated by transfeminist activists as a local, political gender identity) pops up at San Francisco’s Kadist for a three month residency with their show, “The Sinking Ship/Prosperity,” through January 28, 2023.

Oct 28 Ni’Ja Whitson

The experimental performance artist from The NWA ProjectperformsA Meditation on Tongues, an adaptation of Marlon T. Riggs’ Tongues Untied (1989), framing new questions about loss during the AIDS pandemic while challenging Black and queer masculinities, through October 30.

Oct 28 Dance Film Festival

Dance Film Festival
Photo courtesy of SF Dance Film Festival

The opening night festivities celebrate dance film shorts and many of the artists featured in the films, a night of Bay Area Shorts is back and more than 52 films in eight programs are offered at theaters around the bay and online, through November 7.

Oct 29 Unhinged

A terrifying house tour with multiple “scare routes” is just part of the fun at Winchester Mystery House’s immersive haunted house, presaged by Madam Nightshade’s Spirit Carnival, with midway games, axe throwing, Fortuna’s Tent of Mystery, the Spookeasy Bar, and more, through October 31.

Oct 30 The Haunt

Even though the tours run year-round, what better night than All Hallows Evet to experience San Francisco’s Gold Rush neighborhoods and their famed spirits and scandalous departures from the earthly realm? 

Oct 31 Nicasio Pumpkin Patch

pumpkin patch

If trick-or-treating is not your thing, how about spending some time amidst the pumpkins and hay bales at Marin’s most famous seasonal delight? Wander the patch’s 12 acres or spend some time amidst the hay mazes and farm animals.

Christina Mueller

Christina Mueller is a long-time Bay Area food writer. She hails from the East Coast and has spent way too much time in South America and Europe. She discovered her talent as a wordsmith in college and her love of all things epicurean in grad school. She has written for Condé Nast Contract PublishingSunset, and the Marin Independent Journal, among others. She volunteers with California State Parks and at her child’s school, and supports the Marin Audubon SocietyPEN America, and Planned Parenthood. When she is not drinking wine by a fire, she is known to spend time with her extended family.