SCOTT SUCHMAN/AMERICAN CONSERVATORY THEATER Dan Hiatt (as Miss Matilda Crawley, left) and Rebekah Brockman (Becky Sharp) star in “Vanity Fair” at American Conservatory Theater.”

The Bay Area is a hub of artistic expression, attracting artists, writers and musicians from around the globe to live, work and create. We highlight some of the offerings here.

• “Vanity Fair”: Kate Hamill’s fast-paced, inventive and big-hearted adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray’s 19th century novel “Vanity Fair” is an entertaining night of theater with a feminist spirit and a call to the gentler side in all of us. It runs through May 12 at American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco; tickets are $15-$110 at 415-749-2228 or

• Bay Area Book Fair: The annual event is jammed with more than 250 authors, readings, discussions and a nod to Lawrence Ferlinghetti birthday centennial. And, this being the Bay Area and all, you’ll find celebrity chef events as well. The event runs May 4-5 in downtown Berkeley, outdoor events are free, indoor events are $10-$15; Find more information at

• Silicon Valley Open Studios: For the next three weekends, you can visit with some of the South Bay’s top artists, learn the tricks of their trade and maybe find that perfect answer for that blank spot on your living room wall. More than 300 artists are participating. The free event runs 11 a.m.-5 p.m. May 4-5, May 11-12, and May 18-19; more information and a list of participating artists is at

(Photo courtesy of the Yerba Buena Gardens)

• Yerba Buena Gardens Festival: It’s the time of year when outdoor fests become part of the lovely Bay Area landscape (sigh!). This annual series of free concerts and performances kicks off at 1 p.m. May 4 with a sure-to-be-rollicking tribute to salsa icon Charlie Palmiere. Performances run through Oct. 27 at the Yerba Buena Gardens lawn, off Mission and Third streets, San Francisco. Did we mention it’s all free? You’ll find the schedule and more details at

• Classical blasts: Classical music fans can find much to savor in the Bay Area this weekend. In San Jose, award-winning pianist Jon Nakamatsu, a South Bay native, performs Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto with the Symphony Silicon Valley on May 4-5 at the California Theatre; $50-$94; 408-286-2600;, and in Walnut Creek, the California Symphony debuts a new work from its promising composer-in-residence Katherine Balch at 4 p.m. May 5 at the Lesher Center for the Arts; $42-$72; 925-943-7469;