One of the classic music festival questions is whether or not VIP is worth it. Outside Lands is no exception as this is one of the most discussed topics when it comes to Outside Lands. Obviously no one can decide this for you, but in this article I offer up my opinion. I will first go over all the perks of the Outside Lands VIP and general admission passes. Then I will discuss which of the perks are actually worth it, and then conclude with if the VIP pass is worth it. Let’s first go over what you get with each Outside Lands pass and how much they will cost you.
The general admission pass to Outside Lands essentially lets you into Outside Lands all three days. You have access to all the different lands such as Beer Lands, Choco Lands and Wine Lands, as well as access to all of the music stages. Besides from that there really aren’t too many perks with the Outside Lands general admission passes. It should be noted that these are some of the most expensive general admission passes in the country. When you include the processing and shipping fees Outside Lands is slightly more expensive than Coachella, and far more than Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, Governors Ball and other large festivals. As with everything in San Francisco, it is expensive.
Outside Lands VIP passes go for about twice the prices of the general admission prices with a price tag of $795. The main perks of Outside Lands VIP passes are:
Let’s now go through the VIP benefits one by one, breaking down if they are really worth anything. Many festivals offer perks that end up not being that useful, so it’s important to really look at each of the benefits and determine if they are worth it for you. In order for the VIP pass to be worth it the extra perks need to be worth twice the cost of a regular, general admission pass to Outside Lands. Anyways, let’s go over the perks of Outside Lands VIP passes.
The Polo Club is the VIP area for Outside Lands. It is a private area off to the side of the Twin Peaks stage. It has shaded areas, tents, tables, benches, and other nice little amenities. It’s a great area to relax and recharge during a long day at Outside Lands. You spend a lot of time on your feet at music festivals – watching shows, walking between stages, running to the bathroom, walking to the festival, etc. Sometimes it is nice to have a place to sit and relax for a bit, especially if no shows are going on that you are dying to see. It never gets as busy as the general admission areas, so it’s a nice place to get away from the crowds for a bit. Later in the day it does get a bit busy and all the seats will get taken, but it’s no where near as bad as the general admission. If you think you will like some time to relax at Outside Lands this is a big perk for you. It's also nice as you won't need to fight for a decent view of the Twin Peaks stage like you would have to in the GA area.
Sneaky nice perk here. Outside Lands is full of lines, and perhaps the worst offender is the actual line to get into Outside Lands, depending on when you head to the festival. The VIP pass gets you a private entrance into Outside Lands, so you get right into the festival. The general admission line can get up to 45 minutes for Outside Lands at its peak times, so this perk saves you a lot of time by passing this line. If you are the type of person who gets to Outside Lands early in the day this isn’t a big deal as lines typically don't get really bad until the afternoon. However, if you have been known to hit the snooze button once or seven times and get to Outside Lands late this could be big for you.
I would say this is the biggest area of personal preference when it comes down to Outside Lands VIP passes. The VIP areas offer unobstructed views of both Lands End and the Twin Peaks stages. These are the two big stages where the headliners will close out the night. Typically the day's headliner will close out the Land's End stage and the subheadliner will close out Twin Peaks. VIP passes give you a private viewing area of both stages. If you are in the GA typically you need to set up camp early in the day and move up slowly throughout the day to secure a good view. The VIP saves you the hassle as you can show up shortly before the set and get a solid spot. It will also be far less crowded than the GA area.
That said, the VIP areas are not an outstanding, front and center view of the stage. For some people this is not a big deal at all, but for some this is a deal breaker. The Outside Lands VIP areas are fairly close to the stages, they are just off to the side. This is pretty typical for how music festivals organize their VIP areas. I personally don’t like it as I would much rather be in a crowd if it meant I got a good, centered view, but some people prefer the VIP area as it is still a good view, and far less crowded. You can still see the screens and clearly hear the music, so if the view is acceptable to you and you prefer extra space it's a great perk.
Eh, not really a big deal. This isn’t to say that the food vendors in the VIP area aren’t good, it’s just that there is so much great food at Outside Lands that if you miss out on these food vendors it’s really not a big deal. There is great food everywhere at Outside Lands, including the general admission areas.
Music festivals always list this as one of the perks of VIP, and I never feel like it should be. You basically get a bar with a shorter line than the GA area. That said, there is alcohol throughout Outside Lands, including Beer Lands and Wine Lands. If you plan to spend a lot of time in the VIP area there will be a bar there for you. This isn't a perk, GA people get alcohol they can pay for as well.
Remember how above I mentioned sometimes festivals throw in perks just to make their VIP perks list longer? This is one of those times, at least for me. The poster for Outside Lands is cool to have, but I definitely don’t think it goes a long way to justify the price of an Outside Lands VIP pass.
Another sneaky nice perk. Even as a male with a fairly strong gag reflex, I can say the bathrooms at music festivals are unequivocally disgusting, especially later in the day. You are basically playing Russian Roulette with what portapotty you go into. The VIP area has good, old-fashioned flushable toilets, which seem clean enough to eat off of after you have seen the general admission area toilets. OK not really, but they are much cleaner. Another nice perk is there is rarely any line at all in the VIP area for a bathroom, unlike the GA area.
Just three quick notes before I wrap this up. First, I would only get the Outside Lands VIP passes if everyone in your group is going with the VIP. It sucks to be alone in the VIP or separated from your group because you got VIP and the others didn’t. In my opinion this should be a group decision. Secondly, it seems in recent years Outside Lands has begun selling more VIP passes. This is fine, but it does result in the Polo Club and other VIP areas getting more crowded. Hopefully this doesn’t continue and it remains comfortable with plenty of room for VIPers. Finally, Outside Lands VIP tickets are a rare situation where the VIP almost always sells out. In 2017 they actually sold out before the GA passes. If you are considering going VIP don't wait too long!
If you have read my review of other music festival VIP passes you know I rarely think they are worth it. Outside Lands is an exception. The VIP viewing areas, while not as good as I’d like, are still good and better than some (Coachella) music festivals. They offer solid views of both the Twin Peaks and Lands End stage, which is terrific as they are the main stages. The VIP entrance and VIP bathrooms are also really solid perks. The Polo Club is also a great place to take a break during the day and have some comfortable seating. A final point is that Outside Lands VIP passes are fairly reasonably priced. For example, VIP passes at Coachella are $1,000 and at Lollapalooza they are over $2,000! While Outside Lands doesn’t offer as many perks as some festials, it is enough to justify the cost of VIP passes in my opinion. If you aren’t hurting for money and can afford the VIP passes for Outside Lands I say pull the trigger.
Purchasing VIP passes for Outside Lands comes down to personal choice. If you really value your personal space, dislike crowds, prefer clean bathrooms and are fine with a side view of the stage at Outside Lands then go with the VIP passes. If this isn’t important to you then go with the general admission passes to Outside Lands. Either way you will have a blast at Outside Lands!