Free ‘McLaren Park Metal Music Festival’ & ‘Bluegrass and Old-Time Festival’ on the Horizon

Wildewhere has been entertaining McLaren Park visitors throughout the summer and is about to close out this year’s season with two of their biggest gatherings: the Bluegrass and Old-Time Festival, followed by the McLaren Park Metal Music Festival.

Those seeking a little less “hardly” and a little more “strictly” bluegrass can bend a knee to Wildewhere’s Bluegrass and Old-Time Festival on October 15th. And metalheads and closet thrashers will congregate to mosh amongst the trees for the McLaren Park Metal Music Festival, featuring old school metal bands Ancient Mariner, Hammerdown & AC/DZ—Wildewhere’s grand finale on October 21st.

The Hidden Gem that is McLaren Park

As we keep finding, there’s still gold to be discovered here in the Bay Area—yes, for both natives and transplants—if you mine the right spots. One of these hidden treasures is nestled among the lush forestry of McLaren Park, San Francisco second largest park.

Jump to San Francisco’s Portola District—officially recognized as the Garden District since last year. Just a tad south of the more heavily trafficked districts of San Francisco, the Portola District offers much needed variety—a break from the basic, albeit yummy, boat-shoe brunches our techie friends break out their Chubby’s for (talking about the shorts, here).

The Garden District, once the go-to source for fresh cut flowers, earned its name for its vibrant agricultural history. After the devastating 1906 earthquake, the Portola came to the aid of its city with veggies and meats, also providing residence to those who lost their homes. Here in the heart of San Francisco’s forgotten sanctuary, McLaren Park rolls its back to lift visitors to breathtaking vantages, overlooking San Francisco Bay. Amongst these trees is where we find the gold—The Jerry Garcia Amphitheater.

The amphitheater host 700 spectators in its seated section and easily over 1500 more in the grassy knolls above. And now is very good time to plan a picnic with your pups, as we enter the second half of a free, family and dog-friendly concert and theatre series, not to be missed.

jga01The Jerry Garcia Amphitheater, McLaren Park

Luke Spray, of the Portola Neighborhood Association, calls Wildewhere “a perfect opportunity to spend a day diving deeper into the city and see what the Portola, Excelsior and Bayview have to offer; another side of San Francisco that you might not otherwise explore.” And each show is a B.Y.O.B. and B.Y.O.D(og) event. With several surrounding lakes and scenic hikes, visitors have plenty of chances to explore the park with their pups, family, and friends during intermission. Rosé, anyone?

For those still grimacing at the thought of a weekend trek further south than Dolores Park, know this—the 29 Muni bus line from the Sunset drops off just a few paces from the entrance of Wildewhere events. Much unlike the otherwise similar Sterngrove Festival, The Jerry Garcia Amphitheater provides ample parking with handicap accessibility to the theatre and overflow street parking only a short walk away. And let’s be real, McLaren Park is always just a quick ride share away in our lovely tech-privileged town.

Save gas, take a Lyft, and treat yourself and your family to a change of scenery, breathtaking views, and free live performance at San Francisco’s historic Jerry Garcia Amphitheater. If nothing else, go experience McLaren Park.


Written by Ryan Mannix

Bay Area blogger and former radio host, spotlighting Bay Area music and rising artists