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SF This Week: Sharktoberfest and Bluegrass in Golden Gate Park

Here are the five coolest things to do in and around San Francisco this week

This week in San Francisco is an easy one: You head to Golden Gate Park and you just don't leave. Why? Thursday night at the California Academy of Sciences NightLife party is Sharktoberfest. That would be sharks + beer, which is pretty much the best combination imaginable, unless you are actually in the ocean. Then stick around, if you survive, for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. (Tell your boss you had a shark run-in on Thursday...) You'll have had enough by Sunday evening, so catch The Perrenial restaurant preview, leaving the start of next week open to watch the controversial Black Panthers documentary.

October 1 | Sharks and beer
Sharktoberfest at NightLife
California Academy of Sciences hosts a wonderful party every Thursday evening called NightLife. There's a new theme each week, but there's always a DJ and some food to help get things going. This week is a fun combination of two themes, actually: Oktoberfest and sharks! Drink craft beers in a pop-up garden, take in talks from shark conservationists and attack survivors, tinker with some shark crafts, and see the majestic creatures on exhibit. DJs from local crew Push the Feeling provide a toothsome soundtrack of disco, house, and German techno.
6–10 p.m.| California Academy of Science, 5 Music Concourse Drive, San Francisco| (415) 379-8000 | From $10 | website

October 2–4 | Music festival 
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
When the annual music festival Hardly Strictly Bluegrass launched in 2001, it was known as Strictly Bluegrass. The “Hardly” was added to the name three years later to reflect a dissolution of genre boundaries, beginning a legacy of wide-ranging, open-minded lineups. This year, for example, includes such diverse offerings as the Blind Boys of Alabama, Paul Weller, Neko Case, Los Lobos, and Emmylou Harris. Get ready for more than 100 artists performing across seven stages over three days, all for the glorious cost of nothing.
11 a.m.–7 p.m. (from 10:30 a.m. Fri) | Golden Gate Park (Hellman Hollow, Marx Meadow, Lindley Meadow), San Francisco| Free| website

October 2–8 | Documentary film
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of a Revolution
Director Stanley Nelson, whose filmography includes Freedom Riders and The Murder of Emmett Till, turns his lens on Oakland’s Black Panther Party. Funded in part by PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, this full-length documentary is generating some controversy: Former Black Panthers chairman Elaine Brown was interviewed for the film, and is featured in it, but has publicly condemned the documentary and does not want the public to see it. Nelson will be present for a Q&A session during the 4:15 p.m. and 7 p.m. screenings on the opening day.
Times vary | Landmark Theaters Opera Plaza Cinema, 601 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco | (415) 771-0183| From $10 | website

AFAR Local is published every Wednesday, so check back for insider updates on restaurant openings, festivals, exhibitions, shows, weekend escapes, and more. Planning a trip? The AFAR guide to San Francisco has you covered.

October 4 | Pop-up dinner
The Perennial Preview
Get a sneak peek of what’s in store from The Perennial, a forthcoming SoMa restaurant from the minds behind Mission Chinese Food and several other local projects. The Perennial is growing its own produce with drought-efficient aquaponics in an East Bay greenhouse, which is an excellent idea. For this preview pop-up dinner, chef Chris Kiyuna will offer a six-course tasting menu that includes ratatouille, smoky sweet potato with grilled marigold, and a lamb neck cassoulet (or a vegetarian entree, should you prefer). Taste food as it should be grown for the healthiest future of thirsty California. Space is limited so book soon.
6 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. | Izakaya Rintaro, 82 14th St., San Francisco | (415) 589-7022 | $68| website

Weekend escape | Seafood festival
Cooking for Solutions Make It Sustainable Weekend
Monterey Bay Aquarium hosts the annual Cooking for Solutions Make It Sustainable Weekend, which features tastings, cooking demos, and events that showcase how to make smart selections when cooking or consuming seafood. One of the highlights is the return of TV chef and food wizard Alton Brown, who will offer a cooking demo on Saturday afternoon and headline an adults-only cocktail party on Saturday night. And it's not all about the food: Since you are at the aquarium, why not indulge in some cute overload and check out the irresistible otters, among other attractions.
10 a.m.–5 p.m. | Monterey Bay Aquarium, 886 Cannery Row, Monterey | (831) 648-4800 | $39.95 | website

Tamara Palmer is a daily news writer, rapper confidante, DJ, and celebrity chef ghostwriter from San Francisco.