Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2023

SEPTEMBER 29, 2023 - OCTOBER 01, 2023


Hardly Strictly Bluegrass takes Golden Gate on a long, strange, completely free trip to the past with bluegrass, Americana and so much more.

While Portola and Outside Lands attract some of the biggest names in pop and electronic music, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass (or HSB) takes San Francisco back to the free spirited, flower child days of the 1960s. Started by Warren Hellman in 2001 as Strictly Bluegrass Festival, the event tacked on “Hardly” in 2004 to reflect the range of genres that come to Golden Gate Park. From country to blues to soul, the HSB sound is classic Americana with a twist.

Hellman insisted on the non-commercial nature of the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, and even after his passing in 2011, the festival remains free to the public. If there’s one thing about the word “free” is that it attracts a wide range of curious concertgoers, though the crowd does tend to be on the older side. With their tie dye shirts, blankets and hammocks strewn across the grass, past attendees have seen Elvis Costello, Waxahatchee and Steve Earle. At the time of writing, the 2023 lineup has not yet been announced. 

Many HSB festivalgoers choose to picnic at the music festival, but various San Francisco-based food trucks will also be on-site. Though outside food and drinks are allowed inside the event, there are some limitations. No hard alcohol is permitted, and it must be in a non-glass container. Additionally, no alcohol will be sold on the festival grounds. 

The Specs

  • Over half a million people are expected to attend over three days. 
  • Admission to the festival is free. 
  • Download the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass app here. (Bonus: they drop artist medleys in the app)
  • Check out Fifty Grande’s Guide to California here


I’ve heard this is a free event. Is that true?

Yes, organizers have kept Hardly Strictly Bluegrass a free event.

Where is the live music festival held?

The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival will go off at Hellman Hollow, and Marx and Lindley Meadows in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

What time does the festival open?

Last year, the festival grounds opened at 1 am on Friday and 9 am on Saturday and Sunday.

What is the bag policy?

Clear bags no larger than 16 x 16 x 8 are allowed inside the festival. Small bags smaller than 6 x 8 x3 are also permitted. 

What is the best way to get to the festival?

Parking is extremely limited around San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park (and the Bay Area, in general), so the best option is to bike or use public transportation. Bike parking will be available, and Muni buses can take you directly to Golden Gate Park. A free Golden Gate Park shuttle is also expected to operate during the festival as well.

Who was on last year’s lineup?

The 2022 lineup included Elvis Costello, Emmylou Harris, Buddy Miller, Marcus Mumford and Steve Earle.

Who is on this year’s lineup?

Steve Earle, Thee Sacred Souls, The Heavy Heavy, Sierra Hull, Dustbowl Revival, Brennen Leigh, Rufus Wainwright, Margo Cilker, Say She She, Irma Thomas, Rickie Lee Jones , City Lights Poetry with Tongo Eisen-Martin, Kim Addonizio, Evan Kennedy, Kurt Vile & The Violators, Lilly Hiatt, Nora Brown w/Stephanie Coleman, Lucero, The Travelin’ McCourys, Chuck Prophet & The Mission Express, Buffalo Nichols, Beth Orton, Mighty Poplar, Carrie Rodriguez, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Leyla McCalla, The Church, John Doe Folk Trio, Valerie June, Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram, John Craigie, Neal Francis, Bahamas and Gaby Moreno. More are expected to be announced.

Who was on last year’s lineup?

The 2022 lineup included Elvis Costello, Emmylou Harris, Buddy Miller, Marcus Mumford and Steve Earle.

I want to visit Berkeley when I visit SF for the festival. How far is Berkeley from San Francisco?

Berkeley is across the bay and located just north of Oakland. From Golden Gate Park to downtown Berkeley is 15 miles by way of the Bay Bridge.

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Past Performances

Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, 2022

Bonny Light Horseman, 2022

Buckethead, 2011

#hardlystrictlybluegrass on TikTok

BY Lauren Harvey