Outside Lands is a Music and Arts Festival that takes place every year in Golden Gate Park. Due to the sheer size of the park and how difficult it is to provide security for such a big area, Outside Lands has a reputation for being ridiculously easy to sneak into. Every year, hundreds of people jump over the fence, tear down the fence, or get in by some other means. Now, I’m not condoning sneaking in to any festival, but I’ve had enough friends sneak into Outside Lands (and fail) and watched enough people attempt to sneak into Outside Lands (and fail) that I feel I should offer some tips for sneaking into Outside Lands if you’re going to try and do it yourself.
1) Have a ticket ready. Even if you didn’t buy a ticket of your own, you need to have a friend’s ticket or other ticket to show the guards to get through the first set of gates. In past years, there weren’t as many sets of gates and people only had to hop over one set, but the guards have since gotten wiser, and if you want a better chance at getting through, you need to get a ticket to flash at the guards in order to get through the first set of security. After this, there is only one more gate, which is easier to tear down, scale, or hop over. Trying to jump over two gates is just a death wish.
2) Don’t follow the crowd. There’s often huge groups of sketchy-looking people roaming around the outside of Golden Gate Park hoping to sneak into the concert. If you decide to attempt to sneak in with one of these groups for the sheer safety of numbers, be warned: the guards will have been watching them and will be ready. You’re putting yourself at risk. You have a far better chance at getting in on your own, when the guards are not prepared, than you do if you go with an enormous group. Although it seems more safe to run in the middle of a crowd, I’ve seen these groups get taken down year after year, and then watched a few minutes later as a renegade runner will make it past the security.
3) Know the area. Golden Gate Park is huge. If you’re not from San Francisco, at least look at a map or use your smartphone’s GPS to help you get around or you will get terribly, miserably lost, especially with the hordes of people. Trying to ask for “the gate” or where “the tickets are” won’t help, because there’s plenty of ticket entrances and gates. Know the area, and know it well before you go. There’s certain parts of the park known the be easier to sneak into than others, and if you befriend other people trying to sneak in (they’re easy to spot) they might let you in on where they are.
4) If you know someone working, use your in. Most of the people working the gates are not professional security guards, but volunteers. Almost all of the people who successfully sneak into Outside Lands do so because they had a friend who was working the gate who looked the other way. If you know someone who is working at Outside Lands, use your in, but do it wisely, so they don’t get in trouble.
5) Don’t worry, be happy. If you don’t make it in or can’t find a good moment to sneak in, just chill out and relax. You’re in Golden Gate Park, enjoying free music from some of the best acts in music. Pack a picnic and a bottle of wine and enjoy the day! Don’t stress out about getting into the festival and ruin the afternoon. If the right moment comes and you’re set on sneaking in, then try, but sometimes, it’s not worth the arrest. I’ve had much more fun on the years I haven’t gone to the festival people watching than I would have with a ticket if I had gotten caught attempting to sneak in.
6) Most importantly of all, know the risks. If you decide to take these tips or sneak into Outside Lands, understand that you are breaking the law. The smartest thing is to just buy a ticket or watch the festival from outside the gate.
This year, I couldn’t get tickets so I spent the entire day outside the festival with a picnic and my boyfriend. Even though we didn’t go to the festival, we had a great day. Golden Gate Park allows alcohol during the festival, so if you are over 21, BART into the city, pack some snacks and a bottle of wine, and enjoy the free music! You might not be able to get inside, but you will still have a fun day.