Heading to Arroyo Seco Weekend for the first time? First, I suggest you read our Arroyo Seco Weekend Information Article, which goes over all the basic information you need to know about the festival. Once you read all the general information about Arroyo Seco Weekend, we'll go over out insider tips and the things I wish I knew when I went for the first time.
We found public transportation and the free Rose Bowl Shuttle to be the most convenient option for getting to Arroyo Seco Weekend, especially if the hotel you book is within walking distance of a metro station. We were able to walk from our hotel to the station, the metro was easy to navigate, the shuttle was easy to find and it only cost us $3.50 per person per day! This didn’t all happen by chance, I specifically sought out a hotel that would allow us walk and use the public transportation and I highly recommend doing this to anyone attending in future years. You can read more about about all of your options for getting to and from the festival in our Arroyo Seco Weekend Transportation Guide.
I’m always shocked by how many people stop and wait at the very first ID Check stand they come across. As you can see in the picture above, the line at the first ID Check can get pretty long, especially when compared to the bars inside the festival with no wait. We bypassed the line and went straight to a bar once we realized there were no ID Check Stands inside Arroyo Seco Weekend. Once there, we killed two birds with one stone and ordered a beer while we had our ID’s checked.
One important note, having your ID checked at a bar is not standard practice for Goldenvoice. Typically, Goldenvoice festivals have multiple ID Check stands throughout the festival, all of which will have shorter lines then the first one you come across when entering the festival grounds. We won’t know if the bar ID Check was a one-time thing or a permanent variation from the standard until next year, but either way, the lines will ALWAYS get shorter as you get further away from the entrance.
The Draughtman’s houses were spread throughout the festival grounds, each with a different brewery inside. The lines for each were long all day on Saturday, so we stuck with Blue Moon since it was available at the standard bars with shorter lines. However, on Sunday we knew to sneak in early if we wanted something different. We got to Three Weavers at 1 PM, I walked right up without a wait and ordered the delicious Ripple Saison.
Have you ever seen the wall inside the merchandise stand the last day of a music festival? It always starts looking pretty bare by mid-afternoon of the last day, if not earlier with the most popular items selling out as early as the first day. If you have your heart set on a specific piece of merchandise, make sure to get it early, especially if you’re hoping to order that merchandise in a commonly requested size, like medium.
I have a horror story to tell. We packed and filled our hydration pack with essentials for Arroyo Seco Weekend, had it ready by the door for when we left, drove up to LA and realized we forgot it when we got to the hotel. This was not the festival to forget the hydration pack and the essentials inside it like sunscreen, misting fan and our festival blanket, because oh man was it hot! There was no way to get by without sunscreen and a misting fan, we tried and made it through Sunday before we caved and bought both at the general store. For water, we made a point to buy two bottles per person each time we went since we were going through them so fast.
If future years are as hot as the first, you’re going to need a hydration pack, misting fan and sunscreen to get through the days at Arroyo Seco Weekend. Even after we bought the misting fan, we were still hot and miserable. The time between the sets was the worst, because we had nothing to do, but sit and melt in the sun. However, without lots of water, the misting fan and sunscreen it would have been a lot worse both during and after the festival. While it sucks being hot at the festival, nothing is worse than bringing that misery home with you in the form of dehydration and a sunburn. I recommend taking a look at our Arroyo Seco Weekend Essentials Article to make sure you have everything you need to have a fun, safe and hydrated weekend.
I don’t know if only certain vendors were giving out ice or if they were all being generous, but I did see a vendor give an Arroyo Seco Weekend attendee some ice for his hydration pack for some sweet relief from the heat. If you ask around, you’ll likely be able to find someone who will do the same for you. Once filled, the cold ice will provide some welcomed relief until it melts and provides you with much needed hydration!
You’ll be doing a lot of walking at Arroyo Seco Weekend, so it’s important to wear comfortable shoes. However, one thing I hadn’t considered was how dirty my feet would get in sandals. I didn’t take a picture, so you’ll have to take my word for it, but they were pretty disgusting by the end of the day. If you don’t mind dirty feet, then by all means, wear sandals, but if you’re like me and having dirty feet drives you crazy and grosses you out, wear comfortable sneakers.
The Oaks stage would get completely packed each night. If you tried to walk over just before the headliner during the first Arroyo Seco Weekend, you probably didn’t end up with too great of a view of the stage. This is primarily due to a narrow viewing area around The Oaks Stage and the misuse of space for blankets and chairs that would have been able to hold a much larger number of people if they were not present. These conditions meant that the crowds were pushed back past the point of being able to see the stage clearly due to the rolling hills of the golf course and the trees.
While I could continue with my complaints about the situation, this article is about solutions, which will vary depending on your preference. If you want to be up near the front of the Oaks Stage when the headliner takes the stage, I recommend getting there in the early afternoon and camping out all day. There is extremely limited standing room in front of the stage before you hit the solid, dense chair and blanket area. This means there is extremely limited transition between sets, because no one wants to leave, not even when another band they wanted to see is playing. You’ll have to make a similar choice if you want a spot at the front.
Another option is too simply not care about having a good view during the headliner set. Find a spot to sit where you can still hear the music despite the obstructed view and spend the rest of your evening relaxing in the grass. The great thing about this option, is that due to the lack of movement near the main stage, you’ll easily be able to snag great views of the other stages. We left the front of The Oaks during Weezer’s set to see The Shins, one of Shawn’s favorite bands and were blown away by how easy it was to walk up and grab a spot. At any other festival, this definitely wouldn’t have been the case to the extent it was at Arroyo Seco Weekend, so the situation also has its perks.
Your last option is to be part of the problem, get there early with your blanket and chair, take up more room than you need and camp out all day. I don’t recommend this, because I think it’s obnoxious and a poor use of space, but if the festival continues to allow it to happen, if you don’t take advantage of it, someone else will. Honestly, my primary complaint isn’t even that people set up camp for the day, it’s that they set up camp and then wonder other places, leaving their belongings to hold their spot. It is crap that those who will be standing and taking up as little space as possible are the ones who have to camp out and bake in the sun all day, while others cheat the system and wonder around freely as a reward for taking up more space than they need. That’s the end of my rant about the use of space about the festival. Choose the best option for you based on your preference and how much you care about being able to move around the festival.