An outdoor kitchen of large proportion is the site of Gourmet Alley where culinary magic and garlic meet. Competitions for the best dish and a barbecue challenge are part of the appeal. Fans can savor Gilroy garlic shrimp, garlic fries, and more. While sating the desire for garlic is high on the menu, the Gilroy Garlic Festival offers lots to do in between food sittings.
Three stages host talented up-and-coming performers along with world-renowned talent. After taking a musical break, shop till you drop at the Garlic Mercantile retail stores on site and then feast your eyes on the stage for one of several cookoffs, featuring California grown garlic, of course. Keep your eye open for the festival queen and her princesses, who will be celebrating all things garlic along with everyone else.
Games and good times are part of the children’s festival experience. Face painting and kid-friendly food are two of the offerings designed to make the festival an event that the whole family will enjoy. Spend the day together and in the evening, head back to the RV for more memory making.
Online purchase in advance means a lower price for Gilroy Garlic Festival tickets. Whether you pre-buy or buy at the gate, it’s a food lover’s bargain weekend. Children nine and under usually enter for free, with other ticket prices ranging from just under $10 to $30, depending on how many days you would like to attend. VIP packages give perks like admission to the Hospitality Pavilion and premium drinks for those 21 years of age and older.
As you approach the Gilroy area, traffic control officers will be keeping the roadways safe. Drive carefully and keep your eyes open for signage, which will point you in the right direction. A busy event, Gilroy Garlic Festival is well-organized and managed by 4,000 volunteers who will be ready to assist you in getting there. Festival officials remind guests that GPS instructions may be difficult to follow as you approach the area.
There is parking near the festival in graded agricultural fields; the cost is in addition to your festival ticket. A shuttle will bring you to the gates. If you are a biking enthusiast, there is a secure bike parking lot you can use for free; a bicycle lock is required. Disabled access parking offers a shuttle as well, designed for use by those in wheelchairs. Have your accessibility placard in your vehicle window and volunteers will direct you to the parking area.
A fun and stress-free way to get to the festival, especially for RV drivers who would rather not navigate their rig amongst the crowds is to take the Caltrain “Garlic Train.” A charter train for this special event will take festival-goers from San Jose Diridon station to the Caltrain station. This option must be purchased online in advance and includes gate admission to Gilroy Garlic Festival.
Although overnight RV parking was once permitted, changes in the development of the area make the option no longer viable. There are many pretty places to stay nearby; plan to drive a short distance but still be in close proximity so that you can attend the festival all three days.
Nestle your RV in a valley and claim your spot under the trees. Plan a week of hiking, wine tasting, shopping, and learning about the history of this unique area. Campgrounds in the area offer all that you need to make your base camp comfortable. Full hookups, propane for topping up tanks, showers, play areas for the kiddos, swimming pools, and even satellite TV for relaxing after a long day: these amenities and more can be found just a short distance from the fun in Gilroy.
The Gilroy Garlic Festival venue is mostly grass, although there are sections of asphalt and compact dirt. In the event of a wet weekend, a stroller or wheelchair may be hard to navigate, so make sure that you have help for moving from place to place. Closed-toe shoes that allow for secure footing are ideal as some of the areas are uneven for walking.
Gilroy is an area known for early morning fog. Dress in layers with a lightweight sweater over top of a t-shirt. The afternoon temperatures may climb, so make sure that your apparel choice is versatile. A big hat for full coverage from the sun is a must; let the children bring along their favorite cap as a way to keep them wearing it all day long.
Sunglasses and a refillable water bottle are all the gear you will need for Gilroy Garlic Festival. You won’t go hungry here, that is for certain. Coolers are not permitted; plan on arriving with a good appetite and leaving satisfied and full. For camping, check the supplies list twice and pack bug spray, a flashlight, small radio, and the ingredients to prepare tasty snacks after a fun day.
The days will be hot. Water, and lots of it, is a must for all festival-goers. Take a break in the shade to enjoy your garlicky meal and have the kids take a rest to recharge their batteries. Stock the RV with cold drinks and refreshments to keep all family members cool and feeling energetic.
Campfire cooking may be restricted due to fire risk at this hot and dry time of year in California. Plan for savory fair cooked on the camp stove. Chicken and veggie stew, sloppy joes, and vegetarian fare like couscous will sate the appetite. Try no-cook breakfasts including granola and berries or yogurt parfaits.
For those looking for a change of pace, Gilroy and surrounding areas have plenty of choices for tasty fare. Try Asian, Thai, or Vietnamese or stick with the familiar and enjoy a plate of salad or a burger and a side order of fries. Service at local restaurants is touted to be friendly (and often fast, too), so stop for a bite and plan your next day’s activities as you enjoy a relaxing meal.
Food galore best describes the vendor experience at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Food is not all you will find, though. Over 100 vendor stalls are set up and ready to display merchandise like jewelry, paintings, clothing, and many other crafts, garlic related and not. ATMs are on site in the event you need extra cash.
Volunteer security staff work hard to ensure a family-friendly atmosphere at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Alcohol cannot be brought into the festival, and if an attendee is acting in a disorderly fashion, they will be removed from the event. Forbidden items include water projecting items, bottles, glass, and cans.
Temperatures may soar during the day after the fog burns off, with nights returning to coolness and perhaps even dampness. Pack plenty of extra blankets for a cozy sleep and make sure that all family members remember to include their favorite sweatshirt in their luggage. Keep umbrellas in the RV in case the kids want to puddle jump on a rainy summer afternoon.
Top the packing list with a notation to remember needed medications. Peroxide and antibiotic creams are items that are good to have in the RV medicine cabinet. Service dogs are welcome at the festival if they are identifiable with the appropriate credentials.