SFist is bringing you our guide to getting around this weekend’s 19th Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, in hopes of easing your transportation and security check-in woes. Spoiler alert: You will need a clear plastic backpack if you’re keen on taking anything with you into the festival grounds.
Based on previous attendance rates, an estimated 750,000 (or more) will visit Golden Gate Park over the course of the much-loved festival's three-day happening — with weather conditions this year in the low-70s and boasting clear skies, no less.
Remember how you would just walk into Golden Gate Park from anywhere to attend the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival? Not anymore. For security reasons there will be four entrances with a lot of fences. #ourtimes pic.twitter.com/Ji9GqIsIRC— Lyanne Melendez (@LyanneMelendez) October 3, 2019
HSB 2019, however, will prove far more difficult to navigate than prior iterations. Nevertheless, with the likes of Tanya Tucker, Judy Collins, and Robert Plant slotted to perform, a sunny soiree atop the green grass of GGP this weekend should definitely be in the books.
When and Where
The 19th annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival will start today and close out Sunday, occupying the west end of Golden Gate Park with six performance stages inside the Marx and Lindley Meadows, and Hellman Hollow.
Although festival gates will open at 9 a.m. each day of HSB, music started at Noon today, but will kick off at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, with the stages going dark at around 7 p.m. each day.
Before You Get There
As SFist has reported on prior, this year’s HSB is adopting expansive security measures in the wake of recent mass shootings and general concerns about public safety. You can no longer bring large coolers, kegs, or lawn chairs to the festival.
However, clear backpacks, fanny packs, lunch-box-sized cooler and carrying cases, and reusable bottles no more than 2.5 liters are allowed.
How to Get There
Even festival organizers are a bit hesitant to recommend parking near the neighborhoods around Golden Gate Park. Because of the scarcity of open parking spots and the risk of (accidentally) blocking someone’s driveway, consider taking a ride-share, BART, or Muni.
You'll find festival pickup and drop off locations at Washington High School on 30th Avenue (between Anza and Balboa) and on Balboa between 30th and 31st Avenues.
(Take note that there’s a pick-up-only area on Irving, between 25th and 27th Avenues.)
Muni’s service stops at 5 Fulton, 5R Fulton Rapid, 31 Balboa, 38 Geary, and 38R Geary Rapid buses are also an option.
BART riders can grab a 5 Fulton at Civic Center, travel to the Arguello Boulevard stop, and embrace the Golden Gate Park’s free shuttle service which will take you to the festival grounds.
But if you must park, here are the designated first-come, first-serve parking areas, per HSB's official website:
George Washington High School – 600 32nd Ave. [enter at 30th Ave. between Geary & Anza] and at 750 Cabrillo [between Balboa and Cabrillo] More info »
Argonne 680 18th Ave. [enter at Cabrillo between 17th Ave. and 18th Ave.]
Lafayette (Sat & Sun ONLY) – 4545 Anza Street @ 36th Avenue [enter on 36th between Anza and Balboa]
Jefferson Elementary School (Sat & Sun ONLY) – 1725 Irving St. [Enter on 18th Ave. between Irving and Judah] More info »
Lawton Alternative School (Sat & Sun ONLY) – 1570 31st Ave. [Enter 30th Ave. between Kirkham and Lawton]
(Take note that many of these spots are also paid, as well.)
Once You’re There
You can choose to enter at any of the following four main points, each of which opens at 9 am Friday, Saturday and Sunday:
- John F. Kennedy Drive and Transverse Drive
- Fulton Street and 30th Avenue
- JFK Drive and 36th Avenue
- South Polo Field
(Take note that any of the other entrance gates and exit ways you see are, sans the four mentioned above, are solely for emergency purposes.)
Other Memorable Mentions:
- There will be a livestream of Friday’s performance, but TBD for Saturday and Sunday performances. (More info here.)
- Lauded eateries like Little Skillet, Bling Bling Dumpling, and El Sure will be in attendance to feed the masses. (More info here.)
- In memoriam mentions this year celebrate the works from Roky Erickson, Dr. John, and Donnie Fritts. (More info here.)
- Check the list of “HSB Out of the Park” for concerts that will, as you’d expect, happen outside the festival grounds throughout the weekend. (More info here.)
- Download the HSB19 app for artist bios, live festival updates, full performance, schedules, etc. (More info here.)
The brainchild of the now-deceased Warren Hellman, the festival is a love letter to the many genres of American music. Thankfully, this year’s three-day autumn extravaganza won't overlap with the notably vociferous San Francisco Fleet Week—so you can enjoy the music without roaring jet engines.
Image: superde1uxe, via Flickr