Oakland's marquee midsummer festival keeps getting better with age. Now in its twelfth year, Art & Soul has earned its place as not just the city's premier annual event, but the entire East Bay's. It works because it celebrates the best of Oakland and the region — diversity, music, arts, food, an independent spirit, and plenty of sunshine — in a convivial, inclusionary setting that draws visitors from throughout the Bay Area. Most summer festivals are either geared toward niche audiences or diluted to the point of being generic; Art & Soul, however, is designed for a general audience while remaining loyal to a homegrown ethic, including local bands, artists, and chefs. While the price of admission has inched up over the years, advance tickets remain at $10 and kids under twelve still get in free. This year's festival features headliners Lalah Hathaway, Souls of Mischief, and Lyrics Born, with extended hours on Saturday until midnight. Full disclosure: For the first time, the Express is co-presenting the festival with the City of Oakland this year.
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