Event Guide: Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

Up to 800,000 expected this weekend in Golden Gate Park

Up to 800,000 people are expected to flock to Golden Gate Park for this weekend's free music festival Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, which runs Friday through Sunday.

The massive party takes place in Hellman Hollow, Marx Meadow, and Lindley Meadow beginning at 10 a.m. each day. Nearly 100 live acts are scheduled to perform, including Emmylou Harris, Lloyd Cole, Elvis Costello, the Chiefftans, Patty Griffin, and Cowboy Junkies.

Download the Hardly Strictly app on iPhone or Android to keep handy details like a festival map and artist schedule at your fingertips. If you don't own a smartphone, the same information can be printed out as PDFs from the website.

Driving to Golden Gate Park is a guaranteed nightmare to be avoided at all costs. Extreme traffic is expected all throughout San Francisco because of Fleet Week, America's Cup, and all of the sporting activities taking place in the city over what's been dubbed the Bay's big weekend. Take public transportation, ride a bike (self-parking and valet available), or walk.

BART riders should exit at Civic Center station and take the MUNI 5L bus, which will run with limited stops until it reaches the north side of Golden Gate Park at 30th Avenue and Fulton streets. Returning passengers can catch the 5L on Fulton between 25th and 30th Avenues and take it to Hyde and Fulton streets, one block from Civic Center BART.

The south side of Golden Gate Park can be accessed via MUNI's N-Judah line, which will run an extra LRV service from Caltrain to the end of the line at Ocean Beach. The Golden Gate Park shuttle travels around the entire park and is free on weekends.

Check the event FAQ for particulars on what you can and can't bring and do at the festival. For example, dogs and alcohol are okay but camping is not.

This year's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass pays tribute to its late founder, billionaire investor Warren Hellman, who passed away in December 2011. A special "Warren Museum" is open to the public now through October 10 at 1479A Fulton Street from 2-8 p.m. daily. When he founded the event in 2001, it was called Strictly Bluegrass, but has since widened tremendously in its musical scope.

"I wonder sometimes how the commercial festival people feel that we're kind of eating their lunch, and you know, I don't care," Hellman told SF Weekly in a 2010 interview. "One way or another, I don't care. They should do it for free, too."

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