Insider’s guide to attending Outside Lands 2017

August 10, 2017 / San Francisco

Outside Lands returns to San Francisco this August 11 — 13, and if you’re lucky enough to have tickets to the 10th anniversary of this unique art and music festival, you’re in for a treat. With 4 stages, plus a dance hall, comedy tent, and culinary demonstration area, Outside Lands promises 3 packed days of entertainment, so a little pre-planning is in order. Sure, you may have picked out a few bands that you want to see, but what about everything else? This guide will help you plan your visit from what to wear to what to do during your downtime.

Get ready for Outside Lands San Francisco, 2017

How it began Since it began in 2008, Outside Lands has held its annual celebration of music, food, wine, beer, art, and comedy in historic Golden Gate Park. Over the years, Outside Lands has stayed true to its Bay Area roots by featuring only local chefs, restaurants, wine, and beer. The festival’s emphasis on eco-conscious practices is also a nod to community values. Outside Lands has long prided itself on bringing a mix of well-established career artists and up-and-coming acts from a variety of genres to the stage. This year, The Who, Metallica, and Gorillaz are headlining, and Lorde, A Tribe Called Quest, Fleet Foxes, and Solange will also appear. The comedy tent will feature Nick Kroll, Henry Rollins, Nikki Glaser, as well as live podcasts like Lovett or Leave It. Festival goers dancing   What to wear When planning your Outside Lands wardrobe, keep in mind the famous San Francisco trope, “the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” It may be August, but don’t count on summer temperatures. When that fog rolls in off the San Francisco Bay, it can get downright chilly. You can probably count on a couple of hours of warm sunshine, but by late afternoon, you’ll definitely want an extra layer or two. As with all festivals, a lot of walking (and dancing) will be involved, so plan your footwear accordingly. Closed-toe shoes are in order unless you enjoy having your tootsies trampled and regularly doused in spilled beer. It would also be wise to throw an extra pair of socks in your backpack in case yours get soaked (by rain or the aforementioned beverage).   What to bring Thanks to a new security policy, the festival is offering expedited entrance to anyone with a clear bag, so keep that in mind when doing your festival packing. As for the contents of the bag, sunscreen and water are the top 2 essentials. You can bring in 2 factory-sealed water bottles of up to a liter each or an empty Camelbak or water bottle. If you have room, throw a blanket in your bag. There will be plenty of open areas to settle in for a picnic, or you can use it to keep warm if you find yourself shivering because you didn’t believe it could really get that cold in August. The list of what you cannot bring on to festival grounds is long but will be familiar to frequent festival-goers. In addition to the obvious no-nos like alcohol, drugs, and weapons, you’ll have to leave your beach chairs, skateboards, tents, and selfie sticks at home. Lastly, make sure to download the festival app before you go so that you always have a map and schedule handy.   What to do during downtime and rain delays If you find yourself with time to kill between sets or waiting out a rain delay, you’ll have plenty to keep you busy. First, you’ll want to check out the incredible food and drink options. The Bay Area’s best food trucks and restaurants will be serving up everything from ramen burgers and chicken tikka masala burritos, to smoked brisket and gourmet grilled cheese. Choco Lands will keep your sweet tooth satisfied with macarons and liquid chocolate bars. If you fancy an adult beverage, Beer Land and Wine Land have you covered. You’ll have your choice of a variety of craft beers from 25 Northern California breweries and more than 120 wines from the regions famed winemakers. Prefer a stiff drink? The city’s top bartenders will be on hand in the Cocktail Magic section of the festival. Once you’ve had enough to eat and drink, you can explore some of the many art and shopping opportunities the festival has to offer. The Marketplace at Polo Field will have official festival merch as well as tons of unique offerings from a variety of vendors. While the music may be the main driver of ticket sales, Outside Lands is also known for its well-loved Outsider Art program, which brings a variety of art installations and live art demonstrations to the festival. With everything from photography to balloon art on display, there will be something to delight everyone. Finally, if you want to burn off a little extra energy, head to the 3-hole mini golf course or seek out the 18-foot bouldering wall presented by North Face.  

To truly enjoy a festival with as much to offer as Outside Lands, you need to a little advance planning, but that’s half the fun anyway. Once you’re through the gates, keep your plans flexible, drink plenty of water, and you’ll have an unforgettable experience.

Check out our guides to San Francisco neighborhoods, restaurants near Golden Gate Park, and free things to do in the city.