What is the Sausalito Art Festival?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
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  • Last Modified Date: 07 September 2019
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The Sausalito Art Festival is a world-famous outdoor art festival that has been held in the San Francisco Bay town of Sausalito since 1952. Sausalito is known for its strong artistic community that began in 1937 with a houseboat colony of artists living near the newly-opened Golden Gate Bridge. The Festival is held every Labor Day weekend and features about 20,000 art pieces and more than 270 artists.

Art works range from traditional to contemporary and include paintings, sculptures, photography, woodwork, jewelery, art glass, fiber arts and pottery. The participating artists are local, national and international. The Sausalito Art Festival awards monetary prizes to some of the artists each year. The Best of Show award is often at least $1,000 US Dollars (USD) and other smaller cash prizes are given out in each category. It’s possible for an artist to win more than one prize.

Artists do pay a fee of $950 USD or more for the display booths at the Sausalito Art Festival, but they don't pay commission on any works they may sell at the event. The Festival provides security as well as free shuttle, parking, breakfast, lunch and snacks as well as a mention of the artist on the Festival’s website.


Art collectors from around the world attend the Sausalito Art Festival and the event operates each of the four days of the Labor Day long weekend. Attendees have a chance to meet the artists and perhaps arrange to have custom artwork done. The Sausalito Art Festival celebrates other types of art besides only the visual arts and usually has three stages for performance art, a culinary arts exhibit and a Children's Theater.

The Children's Theater may include interactive art activities for kids as well as performances such as musical theater shows and magic shows. Fine wines, beer and champagne as well as gourmet foods are often featured as part of the culinary arts offerings. A wide mix of music such as jazz, Cajun, pop, rock and blue grass is likely to be found at the Sausalito Art Festival's three stages.

The Sausalito Art Festival is also known to award scholarships to art students during other times of the year. The Sausalito Art Festival at Sea includes some of the artists as well as Festival organizers on a one week cruise ship trip. Cocktail parties, an art auction and a shipboard art gallery that allows the artists to display their work to the cruise ship passengers are usually part of the sea version of the Festival.


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