Outside Lands returns to SF's Golden Gate Park this weekend with sold out crowds

Organizers say it's sold out, and they're expecting crowds of around 70,000 people.

ByLuz Pena and Ryan Curry, Tim Johns KGO logo
Saturday, October 30, 2021
Outside Lands returns to Golden Gate Park this weekend
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After a two year wait, Outside Lands is back at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- After a two year wait, Outside Lands is back at Golden Gate Park.

"It is amazing to be back here," said Outside Lands co-founder, Rick Farman.

The three-day music festival has been a part of the culture of the city, drawing people from all around the country.

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Mark and his son Jack hadn't seen each other for two years. The pandemic kept them apart, but tonight music brought them together.

"We've been listening to Khruangbin throughout the pandemic for the past two years. So when we saw Khruangbin in the lineup we knew we had to go," said Jack Maxson.

This year, organizers tell us it's sold out, and they're expecting crowds of around 70,000 people.

"That was always our mission here, was to do something that could be an iconic representation of so many elements of the cultural experience of the Bay Area," Farman said.

But as with everything else in the pandemic world, this year's festival will also look a little different.

VIDEO: Friday morning preview of Outside Lands returning to SF's Golden Gate Park

VIDEO: Thursday preview of Outside Lands returning to SF's Golden Gate Park this weekend

There will be new COVID safety protocols that include things like all vendors wearing masks and screening festival goers at security when they arrive.

"Everybody here who's coming to the festival has to be vaccinated or show proof of a COVID negative test within 72 hours," said Farman.

Beyond the health measures, last weekend's rain is also a safety consideration.

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Grounds crews spent Thursday afternoon making sure all nearby trees were safe and that the soil was sturdy - making sure to avoid any potential accidents.

"We know the park has done an amazing job working with us to prepare the festival grounds at large. We feel very confident in the mitigation efforts that we've taken to deal with all the rain and weather that happened," said Farman.

This festival generates over $70 million in economic activity for the city of San Francisco. This weekend, local restaurants benefiting from that economic boost.

"Financially I would say that the amount of sales that we can generate in just one weekend is the equivalent of many one or two months of sales," said Diana Sison, Owner of Little Skillet.

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This weekend also meant small pop ups like Smish Smash Burger will have exposure.

"As far as patties alone that we've smashed? Over 700 and I have over 3,000 patties just for the 3 day weekend. I feel like we are going to run out but I don't know! I don't even want to think about it right now," said Victor Donado, Owner of Smish Smash Burger

But while there is a lot of excitement around the festival, not everyone is happy.

In years past, festival goers have caused damage to nearby residential neighborhoods, with everything from litter being thrown on streets, to traffic issues and even some using private driveways as bathrooms.

And while residents we talked to say they understand only so much can be done, they sometimes wish for more.

"It doesn't seem like they've done much to fix the issue," said Annie Breen.