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Your Guide to Oakland’s First Friday Festival

Your Guide to Oakland’s First Friday Festival

Looking for something different to do in Oakland? Something artsy, with delicious food and plenty of entertainment? Then the First Friday Festival is right up your alley. A short distance away from the luxury apartments at Aventine Hercules, this a must-experience event for anyone in the area.

What is the First Friday Festival?

First Fridays are an immersive arts experience celebrating both artists themselves and the communities they live in. As the name suggests, this festival is held on the first Friday of each month in Oakland’s KONO district. The streets come alive with galleries, collectives, local entertainment and food in a wide variety of forms.

Thousands of people from across the Bay Area flock to this event each month to experience Oakland’s artistic culture and vibrant community. At the same time, this economic boost to the area is a positive benefit to KONO as a whole. It’s a unique experience and excellent way to give back to the community.

According to the event’s website, their mission is to preserve an, “all inclusive, safe, and vital community-driven platform to showcase emerging artists, makers, gourmet food vendors, musicians, cypher circles, drumming circles, acrobats, magicians, and many uniquely talented street performers and their audience.”

Location, Date, and Time

First Fridays are held from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Telegraph Avenue. You can catch the festivities taking place all the way from West Grand to 27th street in the Koreatown neighborhood, otherwise known as KONO. The vent is hosted by Koreatown Oakland, a 501c non-profit dedicated to promoting local arts in their community.

Food Vendors

The streets are lined with artists and artisans during the event, but you’ll also find all sorts of unique food vendors there as well. While you’re browsing the galleries and being entertained by performers, grab a bite to eat anytime. Options range from organic produce creations to all-American street fare. There’s something for every taste.

Artists

The event’s website hosts a blog that highlights local artists in the area. KONO has more artists per square inch than any other location in the country, which means there are simply too many participating artists to name. If you’re interested to learn about some of these talented individuals, the blog is great way to get to know them and their craft on a more personal level.

Some of the artists and artisans featured on the blog, who you can expect to see at First Friday, include:

  • Melissa Slaughter
  • Austin Graziano
  • Mercedes Martin
  • Shabnam Shirvani
  • Imani Baylor
  • Brittany Luby
  • La Toya Allen
  • Tori Hunter
  • Robot Nature
  • and the Phat Luv Band

Shops

While you can find dozens if not hundreds of artists rom the Bay Area with paintings and more for sale, there are also a large number of artisans on display at First Fridays. Jewelry, ceramics, t-shirts and more are all on sale from numerous vendors during this event. Whether you’re looking to rock something unique in your wardrobe or hunting down the perfect gift, this is the place to find it.

There’s also plenty of First Fridays gear to pick up. T-shirts, mugs, pins and more can help you show of your love for Oakland as well as this fantastic festival.

Participation, Donations, and Sponsorship

Those looking to participate as food vendors, retail vendors, or performers can all sign up on First Fridays’ website via the Participation Registration page. There are several helpful FAQs, if you’re interested, for each position.

Volunteers are gladly accepted to help maintain public safety and oversee events. If you’re interested in helping make this festival the joy that it is, there are numerous positions available that allow you to support artists or help with setup.

While the event is free, outside of any purchases you choose to make, First Fridays does run on donations to stay afloat. The non-profit organization relies heavily on contributors and volunteers from the community to make these events a success. You can donate anytime through SquareSpace.

If you would like to sponsor the event, there is a sponsorship page available on the website as well. Becoming a sponsor gives you media exposure, access to a highly targeted market, and brand awareness within the community. First Fridays is happy to partner with anyone, already gaining sponsorship from businesses like Starbucks, Imperfect Produce, and Welk Resorts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Festivals and events often raise a lot of questions. Here are some answers to the most frequently inquiries about First Fridays:

  • This event is free and open to the public.
  • If the event is cancelled due to weather, and announcement is made that Wednesday on First Fridays’ Facebook page.
  • The five blocks for the event are wheelchair accessible, as well as family and dog friendly.
  • Public transportation options include the Bart station on the 19th Street stop, various AC Transit busses passing through KONO, and the free Broadway shuttle.
  • Limited meter parking is available on the side streets along Telegraph Avenue. There are also a few parking garages in the area, but space is often hard to come by. You can, however, reserve parking in advance through SpotHero.
  • If you enter the promo code OAKLANDFF into SpotHero, you’ll receive $5 off your first parking space.
  • No alcohol is allowed on the streets during the event, but you can drink inside of the Sake Garden on 23rd Street. Other bars are open as well.
  • Police officers, VMA security staff, and a security tent are all available for public safety concerns. Staff members wear neon orange and yellow vests.
  • After the festival ends, you can dig into the nightlife in the KONO district. There are dozens of bars, nightclubs, and restaurants that stay open after 9 p.m.

Aventine Hercules

Giving you immediate access to events like First Fridays as well as all the vibrant community of Oakland has to offer, Aventine is your central hub to the Bay Area. A combination of contemporary coastal and comfortable living, these new apartment homes are thoughtfully designed with spacious living areas, modern amenities that create an envious appeal, and a host of hotel-style amenities that cater to every facet of life. Simple access to Bart and Freeway 80 allows you to travel the whole of the bay anytime you choose, while luxurious touches create a home that’s hard to leave.

Welcome to an elevated sense of living in Hercules. Welcome to Aventine, where home awaits.

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