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 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 sound is classic Americana with a twist.

Hellman insisted on the non-commercial nature of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, 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 festivalgoers choose to picnic at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, 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.
  • Check out Fifty Grande’s Guide to California here


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 Golden Gate Park, 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.

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Past Performances

Jenny Harrison & Adrian Belew, 2022

Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, 2022

Bonny Light Horseman, 2022

Buckethead, 2011

#hardlystrictlybluegrass on TikTok

BY Lauren Harvey