Celebrate MLK Day in San Francisco and the Bay Area with Kid Friendly Events

The Bay Area offers many celebrations for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Civil Rights, large and small, over the days leading up to MLK day, January 15, 2024, and beyond.  Every year, the Northern California Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Foundation puts on a week-long festival to celebrate the life and work of MLK. It features a parade, film festival, arts festival, health & wellness festival, and more. This year’s festivities run from January 9 to January 15. Many citiess host local Day of Service events, celebrations, parades and rally. Most events are free. However, events may require registration and some (Caltrain) book up very early.

MLK Noontime Concerts – San Francisco

Jan. 9 & Jan. 16 at 12:30: In Partnership with The NorcalMLK Foundation the concerts will launch and conclude at Old St. Mary’s Cathedral the MLK Celebration Week, with a compelling series of noontime concerts dedicated to honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Famed pianist Carl Blake will be the program director; norcalMLKfoundation.org

Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend of Service – San Francisco

Jan. 12 – Jan. 15: The Golden Gate National Park Conservancy organizes a weekend long volunteer effort to make MLK Day a “day on” not a day off. Celebrating the Civil Rights leader’s life and legacy all weekend with volunteer projects; parksconservacy.org

BCAF Children’s Day – San Francisco

Jan 13: The Black & Brown Comix Arts Festival (BCAF) invites families to enjoy this day of storytelling, interacting with Black and Brown artists, and learning about the creative art form of comics.  In addition to art displays and live performances, kids will have the opportunity to explore their imagination and create their own artwork. This is a free event. No registration is required; bcafcon.org

Jan 15: Join thousands honor the Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery, Alabama marches and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by experiencing the MLK2024 commemorative march/parade from San Francisco’s Caltrain Station to Yerba Buena Gardens; norcalMLKfoundation.org

MLK Day at MoAD – San Francisco

Jan 15: MoAD will celebrate the national observance of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday as a Day of Service, providing FREE admission to the museum and programs throughout the day;moadsf.org

Caltrain’s MLK Celebration Train – San Jose to San Francisco

Jan 15: Caltrain will be making the trip up the Peninsula on and we want you to be a part of it! The Celebration Train provides free train service to the Martin Luther King Jr. Day March in San Francisco, organized in partnership with the Northern California Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Foundation. Attendees who RSVP will receive a complimentary ticket worth a free return trip after 1 p.m. on the 16th; caltrain.com

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Address – Palo Alto

Jan 14: Held at the Stanford Memorial Church on the university campus, this revered annual event features a distinguished guest speaker in honor of the legacy of Dr. King. The commemoration also includes music, spoken word, and other acts inspired by the civil rights leader’s life and work. It’s a moment to reflect on the progress that’s been made as well as the work that still lies ahead.

MLK Day of Service Planting with Our City Forest – San Jose

Jan 15: On the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday the City of San Jose celebrates the Civil Rights leader’s life and legacy with a national day of service. Before the planting begins you will hear some remarks from elected officials and community leaders to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service EBRP- Oakland

Jan. 15: Every year, to celebrate the MLK holiday, citizens engage in service to empower and strengthen our communities and bring us closer to his vision of a “Beloved Community.” East Bay Regional Parks is hosting volunteer projects at these  three MLK Shoreline Locations, Shoreline Cleanup at Tidewater Boating Center, Gardening and Maintenance at MLK Grove, and Shoreline Cleanup at Oakport Staging Area; ebrp.org/MLK

Higher Ground MLK Jr. Day of Service – Oakland

Jan. 15: Join in for a day of service as we honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. at the Roots Community Health Center Lot on 105th and Edes Ave. in Oakland, CA. This in-person event will bring together volunteers from all walks of life to make a positive impact on our community through service activities and engaging volunteers in projects that promote unity, service, and civic engagement. unation.com

OUSD MLK Oratorical Fest

Jan. 17 – Feb. 25: Oakland’s legendary Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Oratorical Fest, featured in the HBO EMMY award-winning documentary, WE ARE THE DREAM: The kids of the Oakland MLK, Oratorical now streaming on HBO Max and Apple Prime, has been one of the most popular district wide events in OUSD for more than four decades, and it is drawing near again. So, students, write those speeches, poems, spoken word pieces, monologues, and scenes or find one that speaks to your heart. Start rehearsing using the judges scoring sheet because it’s almost time for the Annual OUSD Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Oratorical Fest happening in February 2024; skyline.ousd.org

Martin Luther King Jr. Annual Celebration – El Cerrito

Jan. 15: The 35th Annual Parade and Rally meets at El Cerrito City Hall a 9am. Parade begins at 10am. Rally starts at 11am at El Cerrito High School. Donate! You can also support this annual event by making an online donation to the City of El Cerrito to support the El Cerrito Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration; el-cerrito.org

MLK Day of Service – Antioch

Jan 15: Let’s work together to build a stronger Antioch! This year’s MLK Day of Service will be at Nick Rodriguez Community Center. (only one registration needed per Family Group); antiochca.gov/mlk

Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Ceremony – Martinez

Jan 16: Contra Costa County will commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the 46th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ceremony on Tuesday, January 16, 2024. In the spirit of Dr. King’s work, this year’s theme is “Beloved Community;” contracostaca.gov

MLK Day of Service – Santa Rosa

Jan 15: Santa Rosa Recreation & Parks is hosting a clean-up at Martin Luther King Jr. Park (1208 Hendley St.), where volunteers can help beautify this neighborhood park through tasks such as picking up litter, spreading mulch, weeding and more. Tools and light refreshments will be provided. Bring your family and friends; srcity.org

Free Admission at National Parks

Jan. 15: In celebration of Dr. King’s birthday, all national parks are waiving admission in the year’s first fee free day of the year.

Read more about kid friendly activities you can do with your family to help your children learn about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement.

Getting Around on MLK Day

NorCarl MLK Foundation partners with local and regional transportation agencies to provide transportation with special, commemorative passes, to and from a variety of MLK Day celebration events.

On the peninsula, you can catch the Caltrain NorcalMLK Celebration Train—dedicated to continuing the legacy begun by the late Coretta Scott King by providing special, free commemorative MLK train service for south Bay and peninsula celebrants. Registration required.

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) develops commemorative MLK BART Passes, which provides complementary, round-trip travel to the MLK Celebrations.

In San Francisco, register for MLK2024 Muni Commemorative Passes. San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency commemorates Dr. King by providing annual passes through NorcalMLK and via complementary shuttle service during the annual MLK march and parade.

From Marin, the Golden Gate Transportation Authority has partnered with the NorcalMLK Foundation to provide complimentary service to the MLK Celebration events on The MLK2024 Freedom Ferry.