San Francisco’s fleet week (October 2-10) is one of the most highly anticipated events of the season. Drawing in more than a million people every year, it’s the top ticket for those looking to experience the heart-pumping Air Show and ship tours that can be seen and heard all around you and to celebrate our naval forces. 2024’s lineup features the United States Blue Angels, soaring above the crowds from October 6-8th, with a fully choreographed act featuring a commercial airliner, the United 777. It is the only air show in the United States to do so. “Fat Albert”, a Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules carrying the maintenance equipment for the Blue Angels, is also returning as well as the Navy parachute team, “The Leap Frogs”, with daring jumps and a demo from a Marine F-35B fighter jet that will dip and delight in unison and is sure to impress the masses. This free event in the Fisherman’s Wharf district offers ship tours and the air show all weekend long, with additional ship tours throughout the week. You can also enjoy the Parade of Ships on Friday from the best seat in the house, aboard a City Cruises yacht, and see the Blue Angels from the water with their jaw-dropping maneuvers and the jets humming engines above you.

Blue Angeles US Navy Jets flying in formation.

History of San Francisco’s Fleet Week

Fleet week in San Francisco dates back to 1981, when then Mayor, Dianne Feinstein, rolled out the red carpet for Sailors, “Coasties”, Marines, and their families in celebration of naval services with a spectacular (and sometimes frightening) airshow, a parade of ships, and neighborhood festivities in honor of the brave men and women who have served our country. Since then, Fleet Week in San Francisco has taken place on the Marina Green, with many community events and live music. This is the largest and most significant event of its kind in the nation and features a unique training and education program that brings together civilians and the military to develop and share best practices in humanitarian assistance and emergency disaster response. This incredible event serves as the model for fleet weeks across the country and brings in an estimated $10 million in revenue to the city annually.

 Kickoff Event for Fleet Week 2024

This year the United States Marine Corps Band, the very best of Marine Corps music and the “pride of the division”, kick off the event with a performance of patriotic songs and musical celebration. The music continues as select Bay Area high school bands take the stage, competing for prize money to support their local music programs.

The Best Seat in the House – on San Francisco Bay!

 One of the best ways to watch the Air Show soar above the San Francisco Bay is from a lunch cruise aboard The San Francisco Belle, away from the crowds aboard a charming recreation of an old-time riverboat, complete with a paddle wheel and three levels of decks. Do not miss this opportunity to watch the Blue Angels as they prepare their expert maneuvers for the weekend shows. Enjoy this two-hour cruise on board the iconic San Francisco Belle with the best views of the Fleet Week Air Show as well as practice rounds. On board, you will be treated to a wonderful lunch buffet, free-flowing champagne, and live background DJ entertainment that will add to the excitement. With blue skies and the Blue Angels, take in the views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, the Bay Bridge, and the visiting Navy ships all while experiencing the heart-racing Air Show surrounding you. This highly anticipated event sells out quickly, so book your cruise early. This is a truly unique and unforgettable experience to become fully immersed in the show and is a sensory delight with water splashing below and jaw-dropping maneuvers and thundering jets above. So, grab your crew and grab your phones because you won’t want to miss the chance to get the best gram-worthy shots while dining and dancing on the Bay.

Family on deck of boat San Francisco Bay in background


San Francisco’s Fleet Week Highlights

There are a number of free concerts in the area to take advantage of at public locations listed here. Check out the festival at the Marina Green, with booths, food, and more as well as Fleet Week activities at Pier 39. The official website will give you insight into all the activities listed here. If you can stick around until the evening of Saturday, October 7, 2023, you will get a chance to meet the Blue Angels pilots up close and personal at the autograph-signing event at the entrance to Pier 39. Dog lovers won’t want to miss the K9 Heroes at Duboce Park as they demonstrate their abilities, including search and rescue, therapy tasks, drug and food detection, and law enforcement with various agencies together to celebrate our canine friends. This is a cool event to get a glimpse of how military and civilian working dogs change and save lives. Almost all the Fleet Week San Francisco activities are held along the waterfront district of Fisherman’s Wharf. Keep in mind all ship tours are free and the Navy vessels will be open to the public. On Friday, October 6, 2023, there will be a Parade of Ships, which is a variety of United States Navy ships sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge into the Bay, and some of these ships will be available to tour.

San Francisco Fleet Week Soaring into 2024

 This year’s San Francisco Fleet Week is expecting hundreds of thousands of people to gather on the city’s waterfront and Embarcadero for a parade of warships and the main event, the airshow by the U.S. Blue Angels. All ages come together to honor fellow service members in uniform. Spectators can be seen ogling at zooming jets above and boarding ships to get a peek at missile launchers. San Francisco’s Fleet Week has become a model for similar celebrations around the country and is a must-see in the Bay Area. With free concerts, parades, K9 heroes, an amazing lunch cruise, and great events surrounding you. Experience an exhilirating celebration of our nation’s naval heritage, breathtaking air shows, and the unique opportunity to interact with service members, all set against the stunning backdrop of the iconic San Francisco Bay. Get ready to be dazzled!

blue angels in formation


FAQs – San Francisco Fleet Week 2024

What are the main events during San Francisco Fleet Week?

Key events include the Air Show featuring the Blue Angels, the Parade of Ships, ship tours, and various community events like the Humanitarian Assistance Village, STEM Center, and Concert Series.

What is special about the Fleet Week cruises?

These cruises offer spectacular views of the Blue Angels and other air show performances. They often include amenities like beverages, light snacks, or even full meals, and provide a comfortable and unique perspective on the festivities.

Are there any specific recommendations for watching the Air Show?

Popular viewing spots include Pier 39, Aquatic Park, Crissy Field, and Marina Green. Each location offers a different experience, with some being more crowded than others.

How can I experience Fleet Week with City Cruises in San Francisco?

City Cruises offers special cruises during Fleet Week, providing a unique perspective to view the Air Show and Parade of Ships from the water.

What are the benefits of watching the Fleet Week Air Show from a City Cruise?

Viewing the Air Show from a City Cruise offers a less crowded, more relaxed environment with stunning views of the Blue Angels and other performers over the bay.

Do City Cruises offer any special amenities during Fleet Week?

City Cruises typically provide amenities like food and beverages, making the experience more enjoyable and comfortable.

What types of ships are involved in Fleet Week’s Parade of Ships?

The Parade of Ships typically features a variety of military vessels, including amphibious transport docks and guided missile destroyers. Each year can have different participating ships.

Are there any educational or community-focused events during Fleet Week?

Yes, Fleet Week includes events like the Humanitarian Assistance Village and STEM Center, which focus on community education and engagement.

How can I participate in ship tours during Fleet Week?

Ship tours are usually free and open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. Visitors should check specific schedules and requirements, such as showing a valid ID for adults.

What are some tips for attending the Fleet Week events?

It’s recommended to arrive early at events, especially the Air Show, as popular spots can get crowded. Also, consider wearing comfortable shoes and bringing ear protection for loud performances.

Is there any special significance of Fleet Week in San Francisco?

San Francisco Fleet Week celebrates the Bay Area’s naval history and the contributions of the men and women of the United States Armed Forces, fostering a deeper appreciation and understanding among the civilian population.

Original Post Date: September 25, 2023

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