SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA
What is the San Francisco Bay Area Aloha Festival?
A: The San Francisco Bay Area Aloha Festival is a free, two-day ethnic arts festival celebrating Pacific Islander culture. Each year thousands of islanders and islanders-at-heart gather to celebrate the culture through music, dance, arts and crafts, authentic food, and educational workshops. The festival is held during the first full weekend in August. If August 1st falls on a Sunday, then the festival is held the following weekend.
When and where is it this year?
A: August 1-2, 2015 (Saturday & Sunday), 10:00am – 5:00pm, San Mateo County Event Center (SMCEC), 1346 Saratoga Drive, San Mateo, CA 94403. This is the same location as Aloha Festival 2014.
Q: Why did you
move the festival from the San Francisco Presidio to the San Mateo County Event
A: Construction changes at the San Francisco Presidio have resulted in a two-thirds reduction of parking spaces. This change made it impossible to accommodate the large number of people who drive to our festival. SMCEC is the home of the annual San Mateo County Fair and has over 2500 parking spaces available.
Q: What is the
new Aloha Festival layout at the San Mateo County Event Center?
A: The layout is subject to change, but we have a planned venue map here. In summary, the entertainment stages will be outdoors in front of the Central Mall Lawn Area (seating info below), food vendors will be in the West Parking Lot, and the `Ohana Korner kids' area will be outside Fiesta Hall. Arts & Crafts vendors will be inside Expo Hall and the Education Pavilion will be inside Fiesta Hall. The East Parking Lot at 1346 Saratoga Drive, San Mateo, CA 94403 is the parking lot all attendees should use, and then walk to the entrances at Gates 5 & 6. The West Parking Lot is for food vendor booths only.
How do I get there?
A: Click here for driving and mass transit directions. If you have a Global Positioning System (GPS) in your vehicle, you can type in the address above.
Is there a charge for admission?
A: No, Aloha Festival still has a free admission policy! We do this to keep our event affordable for families, many of whom already find the high cost of living in the Bay Area quite challenging. We are doing our best not to add to that burden.
Where do I park?
A: There is a large parking lot at the festival site, where paid parking is available for $10.00 per vehicle; an extra charge applies if your vehicle uses more than one slot.
Help, I lost my kid, my wallet, my friend!
A: There are various things you can do: 1) Speak with an onsite security guard, who will generally be wearing bright colored vest with a Security logo on the back. 2) Go to the Public Service Center on the event center grounds (behind Redwood Hall and to the left of the main entertainment stages when facing them). 3) Go the PICA Information Booths (at the Expo Hall main entrance and outside Fiesta Hall facing the entertainment stages). The staff working there have radios to request assistance. If we find your lost child or item, we will probably meet you at one of those locations.
How do I find out who is performing and what workshops are happening?
A: On the days of the event, go the PICA Information Booth in Expo Hall for assistance or to buy a festival program. We also post vendor, entertainer, and workshop information on our website as we get closer to the event and confirm schedules. See the main Aloha Festival web page for details. For the finalized performance list and biographies on each group, you can buy a souvenir festival program at the Information Booth.
Do I need to sign up to take a workshop? Is there a cost?
A: No signup is necessary and all workshops are free – people are welcome to participate on a first-come, first-served basis. A few of the workshops are music-oriented, so bring your own `ukulele and sing and play along! A schedule of workshops will be available on our website, in the souvenir festival program, and you may also inquire at the Information Booth.
Where can I buy a raffle ticket?
A: If a raffle is held, tickets will be available for purchase at the Information Booths, and possibly other visible locations onsite.
Is alcohol served or allowed at Aloha Festival?
A: No. Aloha Festival is renowned for its relaxed environment that welcomes multi-generational family and friends, from keiki (young children) to kupuna (elders) and everyone in-between. To preserve the festival’s appeal for all ages and remain within our contract agreement, alcohol is not served and not allowed on the grounds. So please help keep our festival safe by not bringing any alcohol. Mahalo!
Are there other restrictions on what's allowed at Aloha Festival?
A: In addition to the no alcohol policy, you may not bring or use alcohol-like substances (`awa or kava, etc.), illegal drugs, glass containers, nor weapons on the premises. We will not attempt to write an exhaustive list. The restrictions basically boil down to not allowing items or substances that can cause you to lose control or make you a danger to yourself or others. Security guards will inspect coolers, backpacks, and bags. All disallowed items must be returned to your vehicle or disposed of.
What is the set-up for viewing the entertainment? Can I bring my own lawn
chair and blanket?
A: Entertainment is presented on two main stages, and seating is picnic style on the ground on the Central Mall Lawn Area in front of the stages. Since the festival does not provide any lawn seating, you are welcome to bring your own flat (no legs), low-back lawn chairs and blankets. However, we ask that you participate in the spirit of aloha during the event by taking care not to block others' views, to take only the space you need, and to kokua (help) by keeping the pedestrian walkways clear. If you must use a higher chair, please sit toward the sides of the lawn so as not to block the view of the audience behind you. There are sidewalks along both sides of the lawn for wheelchair access, and we will try to place some benches there too.
Where is the nearest ATM machine?
A: ATM machine locations: Fiesta Hall, Expo Hall, and the outdoor Food Court. Many vendors take only cash, so be prepared.
Is there a place where I can sit and eat lunch?
A: You’re welcome to bring a blanket and sit on the various lawns or use the picnic tables and benches that will be located around the venue.
Am I allowed to bring my own food and drinks?
A: Yes. We understand families are on a budget or some individuals may have specific dietary requirements, so we are maintaining our policy of allowing outside food and beverages. Of course, we'd love to have you support our Food Court vendors and drink booth too! But please remember that alcoholic beverages, alcohol-like substances, and glass containers are not permitted anywhere on the festival grounds. San Mateo County Event Center actually has restrictions on outside food and beverages, but they were kind enough to relax that restriction so families can continue to enjoy our event.
Q: What is the
A: The `Ohana Korner is an area for families and their children. There will be games and prizes for the keiki (kids) to win and a crafts area. There is a nominal charge for the games. Please note that children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times.
Can I bring a pet?
A: Sorry, San Mateo County Event Center does not allow pets on the premises. Of course, service animals are always allowed.
Can you describe your Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance?
A: The parking attendants can direct you to ADA parking spaces near the entrance gates. Most areas of San Mateo County Event Center allow wheelchair access, and Fiesta Hall and Expo Hall have ADA-compliant restrooms.
Why might I be asked for a donation?
A: The Aloha Festival is brought to you by the Pacific Islanders’ Cultural Association (PICA), a volunteer, non-profit group dedicated to preserving the Pacific Islander culture in the San Francisco Bay Area. Everyone associated with the festival -- organizers, entertainers, and workshop presenters -- provide time and talent to make this community event happen. Instead of charging admission, we ask for donations or that you purchase drinks at our drink booth to help support PICA's scholarship program and defray the cost of holding the festival each year. Mahalo nui loa! (Thank you very much!)
If you have other items you think we should add to this FAQ, please email us suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Mahalo!
Last revised 3/19/2015