The Grateful Dead in concert in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, June 20, 1992. From left, Phil Lesh, Bob Wier, Jerry Garcia, and Bruce Hornsby. Photo via Shutterstock.

Skull & Roses 2023

APRIL 19-23, 2023


It’s all scarlet begonias and a touch of the blues at Ventura’s Skull & Roses: a celebration of all things Grateful Dead.

Each April, aged hippies and their families go truckin’ to California for a unique Grateful Dead experience (and no, I’m not talking about the John Mayer version). Skull & Roses, the annual Grateful Dead festival at the Ventura County Fairgrounds, will be taking place from April 19 to April 23 for five days of never-ending jams, psychedelic colors and brown eyed women in red grenadine. Grab your tie dye t-shirts, you’re going to need them. 

The Ventura County Fairgrounds hosted 11 Grateful Dead performances between 1982 and 1987, and this legacy lives on with Skull & Roses. Built upon “unique interpretations of Grateful Dead music,” the festival showcases a range of cover bands like the Dark Star Orchestra and jam bands like Leftover Salmon, which will be performing what it calls “Workingman’s Salmon.” Additionally, the Dead’s original bassist Phil Lesh is scheduled to perform two headlining sets. Dead & Company bassist Oteil Burbridge will also make an appearance. 

Each day of Skull & Roses is themed as a famous Grateful Dead holiday performance, including Bicycle Day, Four-Twenty, Chinese New Year, New Year’s Eve and Mardi Gras. Most people choose the no-frills camping option, where there are also designated sober and family zones, and keep the party going all night long. Even after the performances end, there are plenty of parades, drum circles and pop up bands  — because when Jerry Garcia says everyone is playing in the Heart of Gold Band, he really means everyone.

The Specs

  • The Ventura County Fairgrounds can accommodate over 2,000 people
  • General Admission and Primo VIP Experience tickets are available for varying prices, with single-day adult GA tickets starting at $59.95. The full price breakdown can be found here.
  • Check out Fifty Grande’s guide to California here


What can I bring to the camping grounds? You can bring outside food and drink to the camping grounds, but these will not be allowed within the arena. Additionally, open fires are strictly prohibited. Only propane camping stoves are allowed.

When can I load in and out of the camping grounds? You can load in and out from 8 am to 9 pm Wednesday through Friday. There is no camping entry after noon on Saturday or any time on Sunday. Once you bring a vehicle onto a site, it cannot leave until your departure from the festival.

Is the festival ADA accessible? Both GA and Primo ticket holders can obtain ADA passes. All questions related to accessibility should be directed to [email protected]

BY Lauren Harvey