Every festival throws a lot of sensory inputs your way, but no festival hits the “smell” category quite as hard as the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Central California’s three-day marathon of garlic grill-offs, garlic foods from around the world, and musical performances in the Garlic capital of the world make for a great family event, regardless of your degree of garlic fanaticism.
Gilroy Garlic Festival Dates and Location
The 2018 Gilroy Garlic Festival is held at Christmas Hill Park in Gilroy, CA July 27-29 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Entrance gates close at 6 p.m.
Gilroy Garlic Festival Lineup
Expect appearances from Iron Chef Michael Symon, MasterChef winner Shaun O’Neale, and performances from country stars Mitchell Tenpenny, Travis Denning, and Cale Dodds. Other key attractions include “Electronic Clove” Electronic dance and DJ event, and Garlic Chef Junior Cooking Competition. Visit the official page for more details.
Gilroy Garlic Festival Tickets
All tickets are sold on a day-by-day basis with the exception of the Local Resident Three Day Pass.
Adult general admission – $20
Youth 10-16 – $10
Children Under Age 10 – Free
Seniors (60+) – $15
Active Military (with ID) – $15
Residents of Gilroy and surrounding cities – $15 adult/$10 senior
Local Resident Three Day Pass – $30
Parking – $10
Getting to and From the Gilroy Garlic Festival
At the gateway to California’s agricultural heartland, Gilroy is more country farmland than coastline or San Francisco Bay Area urban sprawl. With this rural location comes a degree of transportation difficulty.
Air – If you’re coming from out of state you’ll most likely fly into one of the three major Bay Area airports (San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland). The closest of the three is San Jose, which is just 40 minutes from Gilroy by car.
Train – Caltrain offers service between Gilroy and San Francisco with stops in San Jose and along the entire peninsula. A special Garlic Festival charter train will depart the San Jose station at 10 a.m. and run non-stop directly to Gilroy where, upon arrival, a shuttle will take you directly to the festival. The bus will leave the festival at 4 p.m. to take you to the Gilroy station to catch a 5 p.m. train back to San Jose. From San Jose, you can take any regular service train. Check out the Caltrain weekend schedule to plan your connection.
Car – If you plan on driving, Gilroy is right off highway 101 which makes the city accessible to festival goers driving south from the Bay Area and for those heading north from the Central Valley or Los Angeles. But be advised, traffic will get heavy!
Where to Stay for the Gilroy Garlic Festival
Accommodations fall into three categories: staying in Gilroy, staying up north in the Bay Area and taking the train, or staying out on the coast in Santa Cruz and driving to the festival.
For a true taste of rural California, this Country Farmland Airbnb in nearby San Juan Bautista is complete with farm animals, a large covered pool and a breakfast that according to reviews is second to none.
If the country life isn’t for you, this two-story loft on Santana Row in San Jose’s upscale shopping district is available for $458 a night. Spend the day at the festival, catch the train back to San Jose and make it to dinner at one of the many restaurants on Santana Row. Who’s to say you couldn’t squeeze in a little shopping, too?
The Gilroy summer heat can get pretty intense. If it gets a little too hot inland, you can head to Santa Cruz and spend the evening on the beach. A 45-minute drive from Gilroy to the coast, this Santa Cruz bed and breakfast offers rooms starting at $129 a night.
For more inside advice on how to maximize your Garlic Festival experience, check out our Garlic Festival Pro Tips page.