Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass was originally called the "Strictly Bluegrass" Festival. In the beginning, it did feature strictly bluegrass music but began to expand to other genres, and the "hardly" was added in 2004. It was founded and continues to be funded by the wealthy venture and capital investor, Warren Hellman, who is himself a dedicated bluegrass banjo picker.

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Music and Facts

The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2023 festival brings on a series of concerts to San Francisco. While it is no longer all about bluegrass, this genre still forms the core of what goes on here. A number of stages showcase different kinds of music, and one is notably called the Banjo Stage where you can find bluegrass to soothe your soul. Other stages bring on bluegrass and more, including stars as un-bluegrass as MC Hammer. Past acts at this festival range from the Indigo Girls to Fountains of Wayne.

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Tickets

Part of Hellman's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival San Francisco philosophy is that the three-day series of concerts held over the first weekend of October be accessible to everyone. There are no tickets sold, and this is one of the largest free music festivals in the world.

Directions to Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

The majority of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass concerts are held on five different stages located in iconic Golden Gate Park, which is located on the western coast of the city, just to the south of the Golden Gate Bridge and just to the southwest of the Oakland Bay Bridge. These venues (the Speedway, Lindley Meadow, and Marx Meadow) are located in the central part of the park, just south of John F. Kennedy Drive. There is a park service shuttle that runs a loop through the park, and can drop you off near the stages. There is bicycle parking, as well as ATMs, toilets, and food vendors. In the spirit of the city, this is almost always a festival free of violence, drunkenness, and similar incidents.

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Lodging

There is no official camping for the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival and no camping is allowed in Golden Gate Park. However, there are a few campgrounds and RV parks to the north around the Presidio, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and the area around Mt. Tamalpais. These can fill up very quickly, so make your arrangements as far in advance as possible if you're planning this kind of lodging. Otherwise, you have quite a wide variety of choices, including some nearby motels that are surprisingly affordable for such a large city.

One example is the Great Highway Inn, located at 1234 Great Highway, on the north/south coastal route that runs along Ocean Beach to the west of the park. The gorgeous sandy beach is just a few steps away as is Golden Gate Park and the shuttle to the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival San Francisco concert venues. Rooms here are basic motel type rooms - nothing special. The lure of properties like this is location, location, location. On the other end of the scale (and on the other end of the park) is the prestigious Stanyan Park Hotel at 750 Stanyan Street on the eastern border of the park. This elegantly restored hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The property's 36 Victorian rooms evoke the ambiance of one of the city's bed and breakfast inns.

Image: Anthony Pidgeon
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