The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival

Each year, the first weekend in October brings the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, one of the Bay Area’s most anticipated music festivals. This festival began in 2001, when local venture capitalist Warren Hellman fulfilled a longtime dream to have a free bluegrass festival where this uniquely American type of music could be showcased. Collaborating with local promoters, Hellman quickly attracted some of the most prestigious names in bluegrass to his annual event and in a few years, other types of musicians wanted to perform. This inspired organizers to add the adverb “Hardly” to the name of the festival and in the ensuing years, this event has grown to one of the biggest on the Bay Area music calendar, with an average of 750,000 guests enjoying the three days of performances on different stages.

Not only is the music fine at this festival, so is the view from most of the stages spread throughout Hellman Hollow, as well as Lindley and Marx Meadows in Golden Gate Park. If you plan on attending one or more days of the festival, don’t plan on driving, as parking is extremely limited. Taking public transportation, walking or biking to the festival is strongly recommended. Camping is not allowed in Golden Gate Park, but if you’d like to camp and walk to the fest, there are campgrounds nearby in The Presidio and a RV park near Candlestick Park.

If you’d like to go, here are some other considerations:

  • Coolers, blankets and short-backed chairs are allowed, as well as alcoholic beverages, but no alcohol is sold on-site. Organizers request that attendees occupy a space no larger than 8 by 10 feet, so that everyone can have a chance to sit and enjoy the sets.
  • Picnicking is encouraged, but there are also dozens of food and beverage vendors located throughout the festival grounds. Organizers kindly request that everyone clean up after themselves and use the garbage and recycling bins conveniently located throughout the grounds.
  • Dogs are allowed, as long as they are leashed and tolerant of large crowds and loud music. However, organizers request that dog owners clean up after their animals and be considerate of other music lovers.
  • Smoking is not allowed on the festival grounds or within Golden Gate Park.
  • There are hotels within walking distance, but rooms tend to sell out quickly, so book early if you’d like to walk to the festival from your hotel.
  • There are bike racks for self-parking located at strategic intervals and also valet bike parking for those wanting an extra layer of security for their bike.
  • Festival merchandise vendors are located throughout the grounds, as are ATMs.
  • A complete list of each year’s lineup of musicians, maps, FAQs and other useful information can be found on the festivals site at

So if you’d like to get your groove on for an afternoon, a day or the whole weekend this October, head on down to Golden Gate Park and enjoy one of the best music festivals in the Bay Area!