Lonely Planet Writer

Fifty years on, San Francisco plans a year-long commemoration of the ‘Summer of Love’

Going to San Francisco? Well almost 100,000 did for the ‘Summer of Love’ in 1967 and since then the world has never quite been the same.

American psychedelic rock band The Grateful Dead poses on Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco
American psychedelic rock band The Grateful Dead poses on Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco. Image by Getty Images

And now half a century later, the city is gearing up next year to celebrate the golden jubilee of the event that took place in the Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood. The year-long festivities will evoke the spirit of that time, where alternative lifestyles, music, fashion, art and new ideas, first emerged which basically told the world that anything and everything was possible.

Hippies lounge in the Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco.
Hippies lounge in the Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco. Image by Getty Images

Back then, the young generation of hippies wore flowers in their hair and became front-liners in standing up for civil rights and conservation issues.  Some will return to show that they have lived a life still holding to these ideals, while many will be joined by their children and grandchildren. For that generation, and indeed many more since, San Francisco is forever linked with the feeling of counterculture. This month coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Love Pageant Rally, a gathering in the Panhandle of Golden Gate Park that was the catalyst which set the Summer of Love underway. To mark the occasion, San Francisco Travel and the California Historical Society (CHS) have announced a full calendar year of celebrations to commemorate the 1967 summer.

The Haight is noted for its role as the center of the 1960s hippie movement.
The Haight is noted for its role as the center of the 1960s hippie movement.
Image by John S Lander/LightRocket via Getty Images

Visitors to the city next year will be able to attend major exhibitions in the area’s best museums. There will also be plenty of special events and concerts looking back at that never-to-be forgotten time, with emphasis on investigating the then-and-now of its significance politically. The California Historical Society plans to detail both factual and cultural contexts for this seminal time in history through an exhibition, and also by working with cultural partners, such as the de Young Museum. Tourists who plan to visit the area will find San Francisco Travel a great resource as it highlights the must-see events, itineraries and tours that follow the path of some world-famous musicians.