May: The Mill Valley Music Festival and More

Also, in and around Marin County, exciting festivals abound celebrating independent filmmaking, local music and food and wine.

Arts & Lectures

May 6 Laura Dern and Diana Ladd

Acclaimed actresses Laura Dern (Big Little Lies, Twin Peaks, Jurassic Park) and Diane Ladd (Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Chinatown) are coming to San Francisco’s Sydney Goldstein Theater to have a conversation with author Cheryl Strayed. The mother-daughter duo have appeared alongside in Rambing Rose and David Lynch’s Wild At Heart.

May 9 John Waters

John Waters is a writer, film director, actor, visual artist, and Bay Area icon best known for his films, including Hairspray, Pink Flamingos, and Serial Mom. His newest book is his first novel, Liarmouth.

May 16 Tom Hanks

One of the most respected actors and filmmakers of our time, Tom Hanks (Big, Forrest Gump, Philadelphia, Charlie Wilson’s War) is also an avid reader. He made his fiction debut in 2017 with Uncommon Type and has recently published his first novel, The Making of Another Motion Picture Masterpiece. Born in the Bay Area, Hanks advocates for community colleges, crediting the two years he spent at Chabot College as enabling his future acting and writing career.

May 19 Andy Cohen

Photo: Courtesy of Andy Cohen

Award-winning television host and producer Andy Cohen is best known for Watch What Happens Live and as executive producer of The Real Housewives franchise. His new memoir, The Daddy Diaries: The Year I Grew Up, details his experience as a father.

May 19–June 11 Shakespeare in Love

The Oscar-winning film comes to life on stage in this story of how young William Shakespeare is inspired by his muse — the brilliant and beautiful Viola — to write Romeo & Juliet, his romantic masterpiece. See it at the Novato Theater Company.


May 3 Caroline Rose

After releasing two records of folk and country-inspired music, Rose released a pop-rock album Loner in 2018, and her most recent album, Superstar, in 2020 — see her at the Fillmore in San Francisco.

May 5 ABBAfab

Listen to tributes of music produced in the ’70s and ’80s, including ABBA hits such as “Waterloo,” “Fernando,” and “Dancing Queen” and the Marin Center in San Rafael.

May 6 Mykal Rose

The Grammy Award-winning voice, formerly of Black Uhuru, got his start opening for Roberta Flack and playing with Fab 5. As lead vocalist, he and other Black Uhuru members won reggae’s first Grammy award for the album Anthem in 1984. See him at the Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley.

May 7 Russian Chamber Orchestra Concert

Since 1992, the Marin-based Russian Chamber Orchestra have performed all around the globe at world-renowned orchestras. See their final concert of the season at the Mt. Tamalpais United Methodist Church.

May 27 Yung Gravy and Joey Valence & Brae ​​

Photo: Courtesy of Yung Gravy

Yung Gravy is an American rapper who first earned recognition in 2016 when his song “Mr. Clean” gained traction on SoundCloud. He will be joined by TikTok rappers Joey Valence & Brae on stage at August Hall.

May 29 Christone “Kingfish” Ingram

Since the release of Kingfish, the Grammy-nominated guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter has quickly become the defining blues voice of this generation. From his hometown of Clarksdale, Mississippi, to stages around the world, the now 22-year-old has already headlined two national tours. Come see him in at HopMonk in Novato.


May 5–6 Novato Comedy Festival

See the Bay Area’s top standup talent at the Novato Theater Company.

May 5–6 Adam Conover

Adam Conover is an American writer and television host who created and hosted Adam Ruins Everything, based on the CollegeHumor series.

May 11 Steve Ausburne

Standup comedy is back at Novato’s Trek Wine. This comedy show will feature Steve Ausburne, who has performed at The Punchline and Cobb’s Comedy Club.

May 27 Steve Barkley

Steve Barkley will be performing at Trek Wine in Novato. Barkley has been seen on HBO, A&E, Showtime, and was the $10,000 winner on ABC’s America’s Funniest People.


May 10–May 14 DocLands

The California Film Institute returns to San Rafael with a slate of documentary films in three broad categories: Wonderlands, the Great Outdoors and the Art of Impact.

May 11–May 21 CAAM Fest

The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) welcomes audiences back into the theater to celebrate stories that convey the richness and diversity of Asian American experiences. Look for films showing around the Bay through May 21.


Through May 11 Sadie Barnette: The New Eagle Creek Saloon

Photo by Sadie Barnette

Oakland-based artist Sadie Barnette’s The New Eagle Creek Saloon (2019) is an installation and performance series that reimagines San Francisco’s first black-owned gay bar, opened by the artist’s father, Rodney Barnette, in 1990.

Opening May 18 Mika Rottenberg: Spaghetti Blockchain

One of the most innovative contemporary artists working today, New York-based Mika Rottenberg uses a playful and absurdist sense of humor to confront some of society’s most urgent social issues. Spaghetti Blockchain exposes, delights in, and criticizes the interactions between labor, economics, and the ways in which our emotional relationships are increasingly monetized in today’s hyper-capitalist world.

Opening May 20 Frank Bowling: The New York Years 1966–1975

Born in Bartica, British Guiana (now Guyana), Bowling began his career in London and visited Guyana before arriving in New York in 1966, where he participated in critical debates around abstract painting and the role of Black cultural identity in artistic practices.

Opening May 20 Kinship: Photography and Connection

This exhibition will feature six contemporary photographers who share a special affinity with their subjects. Relationships are fundamental to each artist’s practice, whether they are familial, platonic, romantic, cultural, or geographic in nature.


May 6 Spring Fling

Photo: Courtesy of Slide Ranch

Slide Ranch, a nonprofit in Muir Beach whose mission is to connect children to nature, will be hosting a day-long spring celebration featuring farm animal encounters, nature exploration, guided hikes, live music, and more.

May 6 May Madness San Rafael

May Madness is the longest running car parade in Northern California. Hundreds of vehicles of all types, including classic cars, hot rods and customs, line the streets of Downtown San Rafael.

May 7 Woofstock

Photo by Marin Humane

Marin Humane is hosting a fun summer event for animal lovers and their four-legged friends. Enjoy live music from Tom Petty cover band, Petty Theft, a variety of food trucks, local vendors and animal rescue groups.

May 13–14 Mill Valley Music Festival

Marin’s favorite music festival returns with an amazing lineup. Bring a lawn chair, a hat and a refillable water bottle to the field behind the Mill Valley Community Center and celebrate the return of live music in a festival format, outdoors.

May 18–23 Healdsburg Wine & Food Experience

Healdsbrug Food and Wine Festival
Photo by Galdones Photography

In the heart of California wine country, the 2nd annual Healdsburg Wine & Food Experience is a weekend-long festival that will showcase the region’s makers — farmers, growers, winemakers and chefs — alongside globally recognized wines from the greatest wine regions of the world. 

May 26–May 28 BottleRock Napa Valley

Photo by BottleRock Napa

Post Malone, Lizzo, and Red Hot Chili Peppers will headline three days of a wine-fueled party over Memorial Day Weekend that features a culinary stage, a sparkle bar, silent disco and a sculpture garden.

May 28 The 49th Annual Muir Beach Volunteer Firemen’s Barbecue

The annual firemen’s barbecue and fundraiser returns to Santos Meadows. The Firemen’s Barbecue is a festive gathering and fundraiser for the Muir Beach Volunteer Fire Department and a favorite Memorial Day Weekend tradition in Marin. Enjoy delicious food, fantastic live music, and craft beer, and support the volunteer fire department.

Through May 29 44th Annual San Francisco Decorator Showcase

The 44th Annual San Francisco Decorator Showcase will announce the final selection of the 2023 designers who will transform a magnificent 18th-Century-style Mediterranean Spanish home into this year’s Showcase.

May 29 Memorial Day at Marin Center

The Marin County United Veterans Council will be hosting a Memorial Day service that will feature music, a remembrance program, flag displays, and wreath-laying ceremonies.