The Benicia Waterfront Festival has had several identities over its nearly 30-year life span. Some might remember the original event simply called a waterfront celebration, and then the seafood festival and the jazz festival. These days, Benicia Main Street believes it has hit on a winning combination of live music, food and spirits all designed to celebrate summer.

Held over the years at the foot of First Street and along the pier, the action now takes place on the nearby First Street Green near the Southern Pacific Depot. Benicia Main Street Executive Director Nancy Martinez said the event has morphed into a music festival with event-goers strongly favoring rock music over jazz. The hours were shortened so that people would have plenty of time to visit downtown shops. “We took a hiatus for a few years—we took some time to figure out how we wanted to continue,” she said.

Set in Benicia’s picturesque downtown with the waterfront providing a dramatic backdrop, the festival features two afternoons of solid, righteous live rock and roll music, plus craft beers and wine, food, vendors and children’s activities. This year’s fun takes place July 29-30, with plenty of space to spread out and enjoy, and if the mood strikes, get up and dance. Families with children are welcome, but dogs must be left at home.

The festival benefits Main Street and also serves a larger aim of drawing people downtown to bars, cafes and boutiques. “We look at it as a regional event for all of Solano and Contra Costa counties that also benefits the downtown. We end at 6pm and those attending don’t want to stop having fun.

The festival’s Vendor Village will offer arts and crafts, jewelry, paintings, clothing, gift items and more. Plenty of tenting will be on hand to provide shade should the temperatures soar. Cost to get in shouldn’t be a deterrent, Martinez said, pointing out that there are few other places where a $10 admission ticket provides an afternoon of live music.

2016 Waterfront Music Festival, courtesy Benicia Main Street

Courtesy Benicia Main Street

The Bands
J. Silverheels, 11:30am-1pm
Public Eye, 1:30pm-3:30pm
Hella Good, 4-6pm

House of Floyd, 11:30am-1pm
Farenhyte 5150, 1:30-3:30pm
Tortilla Soup, 4-6pm

11am-6pm Saturday and Sunday, July 29-30 at the First Street Green

$10 per adult, $5 per senior, and $15 for a weekend pass. Save by getting buy-one-get-one-free postcards at the weekly Farmers Market or online at
Tickets can be purchased the day of the event.

A Community affair
It often takes a village to put on a festival and this one is no exception. Members of the Rotary Club of Benicia and Soroptimist of Benicia will be on hand pouring beer and wine, respectively. Realtors from Coldwell Banker/Solano Pacific will man the ticket booth.