BottleRock Napa Valley is a real Californian gem! Festival-goers can expect classic rock and modern household names, served up along some of the best wines and food that America has to offer. BottleRock’s annual lineups have something for everyone, from old-school punk to cutting-edge indie bands and current chart toppers, and the festival is conveniently located in the town of Napa.
You’ll want to experience all three days of this fantastic festival, so camping in the area is well worth it! Unfortunately, there are no onsite accommodations, but since Napa is so popular with tourists, you’ll find no shortage of places to park your RV nearby.
While the artists at BottleRock never fail to impress, music isn’t all the festival has to offer. As the name suggests, wine and beer also take center stage. The food offerings are simply sublime; be prepared to spend plenty of time checking out these vendors. There’s even a dedicated Culinary Stage where you can watch celebrity Michelin star chefs cook with household name musicians!
As if that wasn’t enough, there are plenty of alternative activities on offer at BottleRock. As festivals go, it’s pretty family-friendly. There’s a FamilyZone with face painting and other fun distractions for the kids. The festival has its own open-air art gallery, where you can check out fabulous sculptures and murals by local and international artists. You can also get your groove on at the silent disco, or even unwind at the onsite spa. Put BottleRock on your summer festival road trip list; you certainly won’t regret it!
Tickets for BottleRock Napa Valley often go on sale in mid-January of the same year. Three-day access passes are available first, with single-day tickets usually following a couple of days behind. A one-day access pass goes for about $160, and three-day passes cost around $350.
If you’re willing to fork out $800, you can also get a VIP package, which includes perks such as access to the shaded VIP village, home to top restauranteurs and live, low-key acoustic sessions from some of the best acts, as well as fast-lane privileges to get you to the top of the queues faster. You can also beat the crowds while experiencing unbeatable views from the festival’s Skydeck for around $1500. Email tickets can be exchanged for wristbands at the box office.
The festival grounds are located at Napa Valley Expo on 3rd Street in the City of Napa, which is fairly easy to find. Downtown Napa is just over an hour’s drive from Sacramento or 90 minutes from San Jose and around the same from San Francisco. The area is well-served by California’s highway system, but the routes to-and-from Napa are also notorious for traffic congestion. You’ll want to leave early to beat the crowds. The drive up from the Bay area is lovely, passing along the coast and through Berkley.
The parking situation at BottleRock has historically landed somewhere between ‘challenging’ and ‘absolute nightmare.’ Experience has helped the organizers to iron out some of the wrinkles, however, and in recent years general admission parking has been located relatively close to the festival with a shuttle bringing attendees directly to the festival gates. Purchasing a parking pass is a very good idea, and will set you back around $40. If you’re fortunate, you might find street parking nearby, and there are private parking lots in the neighborhood that charge admission at about $20. Gates usually open mid-morning and close somewhere around midnight. Keep in mind that there’s no overnight parking; you’ll want to move your car to your staying spot in a timely manner.
One major selling point of Bottle Rock is that the festival is relatively easy to get to via public transport. Napa’s regional bus service, VINE, runs late and connects to the Bay Area Rapid Transit system. Not only that, but VINE lets festival-goers who can show a wristband travel free! The festival also runs a private bus service that serves San Francisco, Oakland, and various other towns along the route, at a cost of around $50 to $75. The area is also served by Amtrak’s San Joaquin train.
The transport convenience of BottleRock Napa Valley comes with a trade-off; there’s simply no room for onsite camping, and you won’t be able to leave your RV in the parking lot. If you’re taking your camper only (no extra vehicle), you may be better off staying at a campground along the VINE route. On the plus side, you get to do your bit for the environment and avoid navigating tricky parking situations!
There are a plethora of campgrounds and RV parks to choose from in the area, with some full-service resorts just a few streets away from the festival grounds. If you’re looking for a spot at one of these, be sure to book well in advance. For a more serene experience, you can stay at one of the region’s state or wilderness parks; you’ll be a little further away from the action, but you’ll be sure of some peace and quiet at the end of the day.
Bikes, golf carts, and scooters are forbidden at BottleRock, so the only way to get around is on foot. Fortunately, the festival grounds are fairly compact. BottleRock takes accessibility seriously with its preparations. There are routes through the festival grounds that can easily accommodate a wheelchair or mobility scooter, and special viewing platforms are open to mobility-impaired festival-goers. A separate pass is needed for one of the limited ADA parking spots.
While May temperatures in this part of California are relatively balmy, anywhere from a comfortable 75 degrees to a just-about-hot 80 degrees, there’s barely any shade at the festival grounds. Be sure to bring at least a broad-brimmed hat and some sunglasses. While rain is unlikely, it’s certainly not impossible, so have a light, waterproof jacket on hand, as well as something to wrap up in in the evening. Lines to enter can be warm in the sunshine, so bring sturdy, comfortable shoes.
Though shade can be a concern, umbrellas and canopies of any kind are forbidden, so make sure that your hat is up to standard! Chairs are also prohibited, so you may want to bring a tarp or beach towel to sit on during the performances. You can also bring an empty bottle (maximum 1 quart) to fill at one of the free water filling stations dotted around the festival grounds.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of sunscreen! However, make sure that it’s in liquid or gel form; aerosols will be confiscated at the festival gates. If you’re bringing medication along with you, you’ll have to make sure that it’s in its original packaging, as loose pills aren’t allowed. Though there is a first-aid tent at BottleRock Napa Valley, it never hurts to bring your own kit!
Keep in mind that most California campgrounds have pretty strict rules regarding fires in the summer, and regulations can change with the weather. You may want to bring a camp stove with you in case a fire ban is in place at the time. You’ll have to do your cooking at your campground of choice, and eat any food you prepare there, too. BottleRock doesn’t permit any outside food or drink inside the event.
It’s hard to imagine why you’d choose to eat away from the festival when there’s so much gorgeous food available on site, but since a three-day pass gives you in-and-out privileges, you’re free to do so at any time. Napa is something of a haven for foodies. You’ll find all types of international cuisine, from fancy French bites to intriguing Brazilian offers and authentic Mexican, plus no-frills favorites made with fresh local ingredients.
BottleRock is definitely a place of pilgrimage for fans of good food. As you might have gathered by now, the vendors are as important as the music line-up. Top chefs travel from all over the country to set up shop at the festival. While all this quality can be pricey, there are also more budget-friendly offerings from local restauranteurs. Expect absolutely everything, and with so much to choose from, it’s not hard to find something vegan or gluten-free. The wine cabanas are also well worth a visit, even if you can’t tell your Merlot from your Cabernet Sauvignon, but if that’s not your speed, you can check out the amazing beers, spirits, and cocktails. Most places take both card and cash.
BottleRock Napa Valley puts a lot of effort into keeping attendees safe, but that also means long lines. Everything is going to be searched, all bags must have two pockets or less, backpacks are banned entirely, and you’ll save yourself an awful lot of trouble if you put all your gear into a clear bag. All packages that you take in need to be sealed; this includes boxes of cigarettes or tampons. The grounds are patrolled by private security, and you can generally expect a police presence. You can also rent a locker to keep any valuables secured.
You’ll be missing the rainy season in Napa by a hair’s breadth (though anyone from the Eastern Seaboard or Pacific Northwest might hardly consider half-an-inch of precipitation a month to be a rainy season). Light rainfall is possible, so check the forecast before you go. Your main concern is going to be heat and sun, though it may get cold after sunset.
There’s a fully-staffed first-aid tent operating at all times at BottleRock, and you’ll find general practitioners, an emergency department, and several pharmacies within walking or driving distance in Napa. If your concern is disability related, you can contact the festival’s Access Center (which will also store equipment and recharge wheelchair batteries) for assistance.