Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival 2019: Tips to Attend this Free SF Event in Golden Gate Park
Head to Golden Gate Park for the 19th annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. This year, the free festival is October 4-6. All festivities are held near the Polo Field at Hellman Hollow (formerly Speedway Meadows), Lindley, and Marx Meadows.
Previous year's performers include Steve Earle & The Dukes, Tanya Tucker, and Robert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters. Other musical acts include Emmy Lou Harris and Joan Osborne.
In addition to live music, there are more than 50 gourmet food and beverage vendors. You are also welcome to bring your own picnics.
Alcohol is not sold at this festival, although you are allowed to bring your own in as long as you follow the park rules.
The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival started in 2001 by SF venture capitalist Warren Hellman. When he started it, he planned to only invite bluegrass musicians. However, more and more artists signed up and now you will find a variety of types of musicians on stage.
This three day festival is free and not commercial. Make sure to arrive early as it often attracts more than 750,000 people in total over the course of the three days of live music.
Here is the list of some of the top Hardly Strictly Bluegrass performers for this year's 2019 festival. The list is not in order of performance times, but instead with headliners at the top. Schedule is subject to change.
Friday, October 4th
Friday performances at this year's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival will run from 12pm to 7pm.
- Bettye Lavette
- Bill Frisell: Harmony F: Petra Haden, Hand Roberts & Luke Bergman
- The Brothers Gibb
- Chastity Brown
- Chuck Prophet & The Mission Express
- Dry Branch Fire Squad
- Kronos Quartet's Music for Change
- The Letterboxers & Model $tudentz
- Live from Here with Chris Thile with Grace Potter & J.S. Ondara
- The Milk Caron Kids
- Poor Man's Whiskey
- Shooter Jennings
- St. Paul & The Broken Bones
- Tanya Tucker
- The Waterboys
- Will Kimbrough
Saturday, October 5th
Saturday's performances will run from 11am to 7pm.
- Adia Victoria
- Bobby Braddock
- Buddy Miller & Dirk Powell with Stuart Duncan
- The Budos Band
- Caitlin Canty
- Calexico and Iron & Wine
- The Flatlanders
- The Go to Hell Man Band
- Hayes Carll
- Hot Buttered Rum
- Hot Tuna Electric
- Ismay Presents: Songs and Stories from Sonoma Mountain
- Joan Shelley
- John Craigie
- John Kay
- Jon Landford and The Skull Orchard Welsh Male Voice Choir
- Laurie Lewis & The Right Hands
- The Long Ryders
- Marco and the Polos
- Margo Price
- Mary Gauthier
- Mercury Rev & Beth Orton Perform Bobbie Gentry's The Delta Sweete
- The New Pornographers
- Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley
- Robert Earl Keen
- Robert Plant and The Sensational Space Shifters
- Sierra Hull
- Steve Earle & The Dukes
- Tank & The Bangas
- Travis Meadows
Sunday, October 6th
On Sunday, you will find performances for the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival on stage from 11am to 7pm.
- Bill Kirchen
- Daniel Norgren
- Emmylou Harris
- Fantastic Negrito
- Flor de Toloache
- Hiss Golden Messenger
- The Infamous Stringdusters
- Jackie Greene
- Joan Osborne
- Judy Collins
- Kurt Vile and the Violators
- Lebo & Friends F: Georoge Porter Jr., John Molo, Wally Ingram, Adam Macdougall & Jennifer Hartswick
- Liz Cooper & The Stampede
- Mandolin Orange
- Midou Moctar
- Meat Puppets
- Michael Nesmith & The First National Band
- Moshe Vilozny
- Nancy & The Lambchops
- Nikki Land
- Pimps of Joytime
- Punch Brothers
- Rayland Baxter
- Robert Ellis
- The Wild Reeds
- Wood & Wire
- Y La Bamba
Find a full list by day on their website.
What Should You Wear?
You want to prepare for both sun and fog. This part of San Francisco is near the ocean and the weather is unpredictable. I recommend dressing in layers so you can add and remove clothing as the day progresses.
Other Tips to Attend the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival
- Smoking: Smoking is prohibited in all public parks in San Francisco.
- Dogs: Dogs are allowed in the park during the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. All dogs should be comfortable around large groups of people and with loud music. Also, please make sure you clean up after your dog.
- Children: This festival is family-friendly, so children are allowed to join in on the fun.
- Hotels: There are only a handful of small hotels near Golden Gate Park. Your best bet is to stay in Union Square, the Haight-Ashbury District or Alamo Square. If you are on a budget, here are some great cheaper options that are not only affordable but clean.
- ATMs: You will find several ATMs on-site.
By Bike: Biking to Golden Gate Park is one of the fastest and easiest ways to get here. The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival has both self- and valet parking similar to last year. Here is a map with the locations for both types. #3 is valet parking and the other three all self-parking.
By Public Transit: MUNI will run additional buses between 11am and 8pm on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The cost per person per trip is $2.50.
- 5-Fulton Bus: To get to the park from downtown, there will be additional service on this route. Your best bet for a fast ride is to pick up the special 5R rapid bus at the corner of Market and Front Streets near the Embarcadero BART Station. Take this bus all the way to the 30th and Fulton Street stop.
- N Judah: Additional N Judah light rail trains will also run during the festival. Take it to the stop at 25th and Judah and make your way across Golden Gate Park to the festival. This one is usually crowded, but an easy way to get there from Union Square and downtown San Francisco.
By Car: Parking is extremely limited in the neighborhoods near the festival. I highly recommend that you take public transportation, or bike or walk instead of driving. If you do plan on arriving by car, make sure you allow additional time to find a parking spot. You will also want to be cautious not to block driveways, as your car may be towed.