Solano Stroll-5 Nancy Rubin
The Solano Stroll, a hugely popular annual event in Berkeley and Albany, returns this year on Sunday Sept. 8. Photo: Nancy Rubin

By Eli Wolfe

Labor Day weekend may be over, but Bay Area residents can still look forward to some downtime at the Solano Stroll. The East Bay’s largest street festival is back on Sunday Sept. 8, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Visitors can celebrate the Stroll’s 39th year with a mile-long stretch of attractions, including fantastic food, music, rides and live entertainment.

The annual festival, which is hosted each year by Albany and Berkeley, will feature 500 street vendors, as well as all the businesses and organizations that line Solano Avenue’s 26 blocks. The event is expected to draw 250,000 visitors,  including folks from across California and from neighboring states.

In a departure from previous years — which have seen zany themed parades like 2012’s “Step into the Future”–  the theme this year will be a little toned down.

“It’s simply red: how much red can you wear and how creatively can you wear it,” said Allen Cain, who has been the principal organizer of the Stroll for the past six years and is the guru of all things Solano. “We’re trying  a new thing to bring the focus back to the district as a place where you can come every day as opposed to highlighting the district as a place you come to for just one event,” Cain said.

The theme at this year’s Stroll is “red.” Click to view poster larger.
The theme at this year’s Stroll is “red.” Click to view poster larger.

But that doesn’t mean the grand parade, featuring 75 local groups, will be any less entertaining or creative. Visitors ambling down the street can check out 50 entertainers, 50 food booths, 150 government and non-profit groups, and 150 arts and crafts booths. New attractions will include a police motorcycle competition, family-friendly belly dancers, new mechanical rides and a performance by the award-winning band Cheating Daylight.

The Stroll is an alcohol-free family event. Children will be able to enjoy a special area with carnival attractions including games, clowns, jugglers, stilt walkers, face painters and magicians.

A Green Zone will be set up on the east side of Solano Avenue where environmental experts will provide tips on how to make your home or business more energy efficient and reduce global warming.

Visitors from all around the Bay Area can reach the event by using BART and AC Transit. There will also be free shuttles running all day between the North Berkeley Bart station and Marin Avenue.

Come meet the Berkeleyside team, which is proud to be co-sponsoring the Stroll for the third year running. Our booth is near the IScream! ice cream store at 1821 Solano Ave.

Check out the Solano Stroll website for more information about the event.

Photos: Solano Stroll 2012, a great Berkeley day in the sun (09.10.12)
Solano Stroll takes to the street on Sunday in 38th year (09.05.12)
Reminder: Stop by to say hello at the Solano Stroll (09.09.11)
Out for a Stroll, with thousands of others (09.13.10)
The Solano Stroll: 36 years on and bigger than ever (09.09.10)

Follow Berkeleyside on Twitter, and on Facebook. Email us at Would you like the latest Berkeley news sent to your email inbox once a day? Click here to subscribe to Berkeleyside’s free Daily Briefing.

Guest contributor

Freelance writers with story pitches can email