If you’ve lived in the Bay long enough, you’re surely familiar with Oakland First Fridays, a lively community festival drawing thousands of people on the first Friday of every month from 5-9pm along Telegraph Ave in Oakland. Here’s what to know about this beloved event just across the bay — and how to keep it running into the future.
Oakland First Fridays works tirelessly to promote Oakland creators including entrepreneurs, artisans, performers, DJs, musicians, dancers, poets, art galleries, street artists, restaurant owners, and more. Up to 30,000 people usually turn out to the free and family-friendly event which features monthly themes including LGBTQ Pride, Black Love, Latin Pride, Youth, and Women, among other things.
Every first Friday, vendors and performers line the street along Telegraph Ave between West Grand and 22nd Street. Locals from Oakland and surrounding areas come out in droves to grab a bite from the local food trucks and watch lively musical and dance performances throughout the space. It’s an opportunity for guests to learn about small businesses, purchase items from artisan makers, and engage with their local community.
The event works to create a platform for small businesses and artists by keeping vendor fees low, a practice which has proved instrumental in reviving Oakland’s arts and culture scene. The event also regularly hosts food drives, toy drives, recycling campaigns, and more as a way to continue giving back.
The first official Oakland First Friday festival was in 2011, and it quickly grew into the spectacle it is today, currently managed by the nonprofit Koreatown Oakland Community Benefit District (KONO). As popular as the event is, the price of running it has become unsustainable especially following the pandemic. They are continuing to raise funds to keep the event going well into the future: if you want to help, consider donating here or consider becoming a sponsor for the event.