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Gilroy Garlic Festival Pro Tips


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Amalita Worthington



Welcome to the Gilroy Garlic Festival, a celebration of all things garlic! This annual event takes place in the charming town of Gilroy, California, and attracts garlic lovers from all over the world. From its humble beginnings in 1979, the festival has grown into a premier food and arts event, showcasing the versatility and flavor of garlic in creative and delicious ways.


The Gilroy Garlic Festival offers visitors an immersive experience where they can indulge in a wide array of garlic-infused culinary delights, explore unique arts and crafts, enjoy live music and entertainment, and partake in various activities for the whole family. Whether you’re a seasoned garlic enthusiast or simply looking for a fun and flavorful getaway, this festival is a must-visit destination.


With its rich history deeply rooted in agriculture, Gilroy is known as the “Garlic Capital of the World.” The festival not only celebrates this agricultural heritage but also aims to give back to the community by supporting local nonprofits and fostering a sense of community among attendees.


In this comprehensive guide, we will provide you with all the essential information you need to make the most of your experience at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. From travel and accommodation tips to details about the festival schedule and activities, we’ve got you covered. So, grab your garlic-loving friends and get ready to embark on a flavorful adventure!


Gilroy Garlic Festival Overview

The Gilroy Garlic Festival is an annual three-day event that celebrates the pungent and flavorful bulb known as garlic. It takes place in Gilroy, California, which is renowned as the “Garlic Capital of the World.” The festival showcases the versatility of garlic in various culinary creations, and it has become a popular attraction for food enthusiasts and garlic lovers alike.


One of the main highlights of the Gilroy Garlic Festival is the vast selection of food options available. From garlic-laden dishes such as garlic fries, garlic bread, garlic ice cream, and even garlic-infused beverages, there is no shortage of garlicky delights to tantalize your taste buds. Local restaurants and food vendors come together to offer a wide range of culinary creations, ensuring that there is something to satisfy every palate.


Aside from the delectable cuisine, the festival also features live cooking demonstrations by renowned chefs, giving visitors an opportunity to learn new recipes and cooking techniques. These demonstrations provide valuable insights into the art of incorporating garlic into various dishes, making them both informative and entertaining.


In addition to the gastronomic offerings, the Gilroy Garlic Festival also boasts a vibrant arts and crafts area. Local artisans display their creations, including handmade jewelry, pottery, paintings, and more. This provides a unique opportunity for festival-goers to shop for one-of-a-kind souvenirs and support local artists.


Entertainment is a key component of the festival, with live music performances by talented artists. Visitors can groove to a variety of genres, from country and rock to jazz and blues. The festive atmosphere is further enhanced by various activities such as cooking competitions, garlic braiding demonstrations, and a fun-filled children’s area with rides and games.


The Gilroy Garlic Festival attracts a diverse range of visitors, from families seeking a weekend getaway to garlic enthusiasts who appreciate the culinary prowess of this flavorful bulb. The festival has something for everyone and provides a unique and memorable experience that celebrates both the cultural and culinary significance of garlic.


Now that you have an overview of what the Gilroy Garlic Festival has to offer, let’s dive deeper into the logistics of attending this exciting event.


Getting to the Festival

Traveling to the Gilroy Garlic Festival is fairly straightforward, whether you’re coming from nearby cities or making a longer journey. Here are some options for getting to the festival:

  1. Driving: If you’re traveling by car, Gilroy is conveniently located near several major highways, including Highway 101 and Highway 152. The festival provides ample parking for visitors, but it’s recommended to arrive early to secure a spot. Follow the signs and directions from event staff for the designated parking areas.
  2. Shuttle Service: To ease congestion, the festival offers shuttle services from various locations in Gilroy. This is a convenient option for those staying in nearby accommodations or for locals who prefer not to drive. Check the festival website for shuttle schedules, pick-up/drop-off points, and pricing information.
  3. Public Transportation: If you prefer to use public transportation, there are a few options available. Caltrain runs through Gilroy, making it accessible to those coming from San Francisco and other cities along the Peninsula. From the Gilroy Caltrain station, you can take a taxi or ride-share service to the festival grounds.
  4. Airport Access: For those flying in from out of town, the closest major airport is Mineta San Jose International Airport, located approximately 35 miles north of Gilroy. From the airport, you can rent a car or arrange for shared transportation to reach the festival.
  5. Biking and Walking: If you’re staying within close proximity to the festival or are a local resident, consider biking or walking to the event. The festival encourages alternative transportation methods and provides bike racks near the entrance for secure parking.

Regardless of how you choose to get to the festival, it is advisable to plan your transportation in advance and take into consideration traffic conditions, especially during peak festival hours. Stay up to date with any transportation-related announcements on the festival’s official website or social media channels.


Now that you know how to get to the Gilroy Garlic Festival, let’s explore the ticket options available and how you can secure your entry to this garlic extravaganza!


Ticket Information

Attending the Gilroy Garlic Festival requires purchasing tickets in advance or at the gate. Here’s what you need to know about ticket options:

  • General Admission: General admission tickets grant access to the festival grounds and all the attractions, including live entertainment, cooking demonstrations, and arts and crafts exhibits. These tickets are usually available for purchase online through the festival’s official website or authorized ticket vendors. It is recommended to buy your tickets in advance to avoid long lines at the gate.
  • Children and Seniors: The festival offers discounted tickets for children and seniors. Children under a certain age, typically 10 years old and younger, may enter the festival for free when accompanied by a paying adult. Senior discounts are usually available for individuals aged 60 and above. Remember to bring valid identification for age verification, if required.
  • VIP and Package Deals: For those seeking an enhanced experience, the Gilroy Garlic Festival offers VIP and package deals that provide additional perks and benefits. VIP tickets may include access to exclusive areas, dedicated parking, expedited entry, and special seating for entertainment events. Package deals often combine general admission tickets with food and beverage vouchers or merchandise discounts.
  • Group Rates: If you’re attending the festival with a large group, such as a school or organization, there may be group rates available. These discounted rates can help save money on tickets and provide a convenient way to explore the festival together. Contact the festival organizers directly for more information on group rates and reservations.

It’s important to note that ticket prices and availability may vary from year to year, so it’s advisable to check the festival’s official website or contact the organizers for the most up-to-date information. Additionally, keep in mind that tickets are non-refundable, so be sure to plan your visit accordingly.


Now that you’re armed with ticket information, let’s take a look at the exciting schedule of events and activities that await you at the Gilroy Garlic Festival!


Festival Schedule

The Gilroy Garlic Festival offers a jam-packed schedule of events and activities that cater to every festival-goer. Here’s a glimpse into what you can expect during each day of the festival:

  • Day 1: The festival kicks off with a grand opening ceremony, featuring speeches from local dignitaries and garlic-themed festivities. Throughout the day, visitors can explore the diverse food booths and indulge in their favorite garlic-infused dishes. Live music performances entertain the crowd, creating a lively atmosphere.
  • Day 2: The second day of the festival brings even more excitement. Attend cooking demonstrations by renowned chefs who showcase their skills and share their culinary expertise with festival-goers. Take part in the popular garlic cook-off competitions, where talented chefs compete for the title of “Garlic Chef of the Year.” Enjoy live entertainment from various artists and bands as you sample more mouthwatering garlic-infused creations.
  • Day 3: On the final day of the festival, immerse yourself in a day filled with family-friendly activities. Explore the arts and crafts area, where local artisans display their unique creations. Engage in interactive workshops and learn about the process of growing and harvesting garlic. Children can enjoy rides, games, and face painting in the dedicated kids’ area.

Throughout the festival, you’ll also have the opportunity to attend educational seminars that delve into the history and health benefits of garlic. Gain insights into the agricultural practices in the Gilroy region and how garlic plays a vital role in the local economy.


Keep in mind that the festival schedule is subject to change each year, so it’s advisable to check the official website or festival program for the most up-to-date information on specific events, timings, and entertainment line-ups. Planning your day ahead can help you make the most of your time at the festival and ensure you don’t miss out on any of the exciting activities.


Now that you have an idea of the festival’s schedule, let’s move on to the essentials you need to bring along for your day at the Gilroy Garlic Festival.


What to Bring

Preparing for a day at the Gilroy Garlic Festival requires some essentials to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Here is a list of items to consider bringing:

  • Sunscreen and Hat: The festival takes place outdoors, so protecting yourself from the sun’s rays is essential. Apply sunscreen generously and bring a hat to shield yourself from direct sunlight.
  • Comfortable Shoes: With plenty of walking and exploring to do, it’s important to wear comfortable shoes that can withstand a day on your feet. Opt for closed-toe shoes to protect your feet while navigating the festival grounds.
  • Reusable Water Bottle: Staying hydrated is crucial, especially during summer festivals. Consider bringing a reusable water bottle to refill throughout the day. There are usually water stations available on-site.
  • Cash and Cards: While some vendors may accept credit cards, it’s advisable to have some cash on hand. This will come in handy for small purchases, food stalls that only accept cash, or if you prefer to tip vendors or musicians.
  • Comfortable Bag or Backpack: Bring a bag or backpack to carry your essentials, such as sunscreen, water bottle, cash, and any other personal items you might need. Ensure it is comfortable to carry around throughout the day.
  • Camera/Phone: Capture your favorite festival moments by bringing a camera or using your phone to take photos and videos. Don’t forget to charge your devices or bring a portable charger.
  • Blanket or Picnic Mat: Find a cozy spot to relax and enjoy your food by bringing a blanket or picnic mat. This allows you to comfortably enjoy the live entertainment and indulge in your tasty garlic treats.
  • Light Jacket or Sweater: Evenings in Gilroy can get cooler, so pack a light jacket or sweater to keep warm as the temperature drops.

It’s important to note that outside food and beverages are not allowed within the festival grounds, with the exception of baby food and special medical dietary needs. However, there are plenty of food options available on-site to satisfy all appetites.


By bringing these essentials, you’ll be well-prepared to make the most of your day at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Now that you know what to bring, let’s explore the wide array of food and drink options available to tantalize your taste buds.


Food and Drink Options

The Gilroy Garlic Festival is a paradise for food lovers, offering a wide range of delicious and innovative garlic-infused dishes. From classic favorites to creative culinary creations, there’s something to satisfy every palate. Here’s a glimpse into the food and drink options you can expect at the festival:

  • Garlic Delights: Prepare your taste buds for an array of garlicky goodness. Indulge in classics like garlic fries, garlic bread, and garlic butter shrimp. For the adventurous, there are unique dishes such as garlic-infused ice cream, garlic mac and cheese, and even garlic scampi.
  • International Cuisine: The festival showcases a variety of international flavors infused with garlic. Enjoy Italian favorites like garlic pizza and pasta, or savor Asian-inspired dishes like garlic noodles and garlic teriyaki chicken. From Mexican to Mediterranean cuisine, the options are endless.
  • Vegetarian and Vegan Offerings: There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options available for those with dietary preferences or restrictions. Enjoy dishes like stuffed garlic mushrooms, garlic hummus, and veggie-packed garlic wraps.
  • Craft Beers and Wine: Quench your thirst with a refreshing beverage from the festival’s beer and wine gardens. Indulge in craft beers from local breweries or sip on a glass of wine to complement your garlic-infused feast.
  • Gourmet Food Products: Explore the festival’s marketplace, where you’ll find an array of gourmet food products and garlic-related goodies available for purchase. From garlic-infused olive oils and sauces to artisanal cheeses and handmade chocolates, take a piece of the festival home with you.

The Gilroy Garlic Festival prides itself on providing high-quality food made with fresh ingredients. Many of the dishes are prepared by local chefs and food vendors who take pride in their culinary creations.


Keep in mind that food and drink options may vary from year to year, as different vendors and chefs participate in the festival. Don’t be afraid to try something new and flavorful, as the festival offers a unique opportunity to explore the versatile world of garlic-infused cuisine.


Now that you’re salivating over the food options, let’s explore the entertainment and activities that await you at the Gilroy Garlic Festival.


Entertainment and Activities

At the Gilroy Garlic Festival, there’s no shortage of entertainment and activities to keep you engaged and entertained throughout the day. From live music performances to exciting competitions, here’s what you can look forward to:

  • Live Music: Get ready to groove to the sounds of talented musicians and bands performing across multiple stages throughout the festival grounds. From rock and country to jazz and blues, the diverse lineup ensures there’s something for everyone’s musical taste.
  • Cooking Demonstrations: Learn from renowned chefs as they showcase their culinary skills and share their expertise in live cooking demonstrations. Gain useful tips and insights into incorporating garlic into your own cooking repertoire.
  • Garlic Cook-Offs: Witness the fierce competition among chefs in the garlic cook-offs, where they battle it out to create mouthwatering garlic-infused dishes. The aroma and flavors will captivate your senses as you cheer on your favorite chef.
  • Arts and Crafts: Explore the arts and crafts area, where local artisans display their handmade creations. From jewelry and pottery to paintings and sculptures, you’ll find unique pieces to admire and purchase as souvenirs.
  • Children’s Area: The festival offers a dedicated children’s area filled with rides, games, face painting, and other fun activities. Keep the little ones entertained and let them unleash their creativity while you explore the rest of the festival.
  • Garlic Braiding Demonstrations: Discover the art of garlic braiding as expert garlic farmers showcase their skills and teach festival-goers the traditional skill of neatly binding garlic bulbs together into beautiful braids.
  • Cultural Exhibits: Immerse yourself in the cultural exhibits that highlight the history, significance, and agricultural practices associated with garlic. Learn about the farming techniques and the impact garlic has on the local community.

These entertainment options and activities provide a well-rounded experience, catering to attendees of all ages and interests. Whether you’re in the mood for lively music, culinary inspiration, or exploring the artistry of local artisans, the Gilroy Garlic Festival promises to keep you engaged and entertained throughout your visit.


Now that you’ve got a taste of the festival’s entertainment and activities, let’s move on to some helpful tips to ensure you have a smooth and enjoyable experience at the Gilroy Garlic Festival.


Tips for Enjoying the Festival

To make the most of your experience at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, we’ve compiled some helpful tips to ensure a smooth and enjoyable visit:

  • Arrive Early: Beat the crowds by arriving early to the festival. This will give you more time to explore, sample the food, and participate in the various activities before it gets busier later in the day.
  • Plan Your Schedule: Take a look at the festival schedule and map out the events and activities you don’t want to miss. Prioritize the cooking demonstrations, live music performances, and any competitions that interest you, ensuring you make the most of your time at the festival.
  • Wear Comfortable Clothes: Opt for comfortable clothing and shoes suitable for walking and being outdoors for an extended period. The festival grounds can get crowded, so dress in layers to accommodate changes in temperature.
  • Hydrate Regularly: California summers can be hot, so stay hydrated throughout the day. Bring a reusable water bottle and take advantage of the water stations available on-site.
  • Sample a Variety of Food: With so many food options available, don’t be afraid to try dishes you’ve never had before. Venture beyond your comfort zone and explore the unique flavors and combinations the festival has to offer.
  • Use Cash for Quick Transactions: While some vendors accept credit cards, having cash on hand can make transactions smoother and quicker. It’s also handy for tipping performers and vendors or making smaller purchases.
  • Be Mindful of Allergies: If you have any food allergies or dietary restrictions, inform the vendors beforehand to ensure a safe and enjoyable dining experience. They may be able to provide alternative options or accommodate your needs.
  • Take Advantage of Shade and Seating Areas: Rest and relax in the designated seating and shade areas available throughout the festival grounds. This will give you a chance to take a break, enjoy your food, and recharge before continuing your exploration.
  • Have a Meeting Point: If you’re attending the festival with a group, establish a designated meeting point in case you get separated. The festival can be crowded, and having a central location to regroup will ease any confusion.
  • Enjoy the Festive Atmosphere: Immerse yourself in the lively and vibrant atmosphere of the festival. Engage with fellow festival-goers, enjoy the live music, and embrace the garlic-infused spirit of the event. Don’t forget to capture memorable moments through photos and videos.

By following these tips, you’ll enhance your overall experience at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, ensuring a memorable and enjoyable visit.


Now let’s explore the logistics of parking and transportation to help you plan your arrival and departure from the festival.


Parking and Transportation

When attending the Gilroy Garlic Festival, it’s important to plan ahead for parking and transportation to ensure a seamless and stress-free experience. Here are some options to consider:

  • On-Site Parking: The festival provides ample parking spaces for visitors, but they can fill up quickly, especially during peak hours. Arriving early in the day increases your chances of finding a closer parking spot. Follow the signs and directions from event staff for the designated parking areas.
  • Shuttle Service: To alleviate parking congestion, the festival offers shuttle services from various locations in Gilroy. This convenient option allows you to park at a designated pick-up point and take a shuttle directly to the festival grounds.
  • Ridesharing Services: Utilize ridesharing services such as Uber or Lyft as a convenient transportation option. Drop-off and pick-up points will be clearly marked at the festival grounds.
  • Public Transportation: If you prefer to use public transportation, Gilroy is accessible by Caltrain, making it convenient for those traveling from San Francisco or other cities along the Peninsula. From the Gilroy Caltrain Station, you can take a taxi or rideshare service to reach the festival grounds.
  • Biking and Walking: If you’re staying nearby or are a local resident, consider biking or walking to the festival. This eco-friendly option allows you to avoid traffic and parking hassles. There are designated bike racks available near the entrance for secure parking.

When planning your transportation, take into consideration possible traffic delays, especially during high-traffic festival hours. Stay updated on any transportation-related announcements or changes by checking the official festival website or social media channels.


If you have specific accessibility needs, the festival offers designated accessible parking spaces and services. Contact the festival organizers in advance to make any necessary arrangements or inquire about accessibility options.


By considering these parking and transportation options, you can ensure a smooth journey to and from the Gilroy Garlic Festival, allowing you to focus on enjoying the festivities to the fullest.


Now that you have the logistics figured out, let’s explore accommodation options in the Gilroy area to help you plan your stay.



If you’re planning to attend the Gilroy Garlic Festival and require overnight accommodations, there are various options available to suit your preferences and budget. Here are some suggestions to consider:

  • Hotels and Motels: Gilroy and the surrounding area offer a range of hotels and motels that cater to different budgets. From well-known chain hotels to locally-owned establishments, you’ll find a variety of options to choose from. It’s advisable to book your accommodations in advance, especially during the festival weekend, to secure the best rates and availability.
  • Bed and Breakfasts: Experience a cozy and charming stay at one of the bed and breakfast establishments in and around Gilroy. These accommodations offer a personal touch and often include delicious homemade breakfasts, providing a warm and welcoming atmosphere for your stay.
  • Vacation Rentals: Consider renting an apartment, condo, or house in the area through platforms such as Airbnb or VRBO. This option offers more space and flexibility, especially for larger groups or families, and allows you to have a home-away-from-home experience during your time at the festival.
  • Camping and RV Parks: If you prefer a more outdoor-oriented experience, there are several campgrounds and RV parks in the Gilroy region. Enjoy the beauty of nature while still being close to the festival. Make sure to check availability and reservation requirements in advance.
  • Nearby Cities: If accommodations in Gilroy are limited, consider exploring nearby cities such as Morgan Hill, San Jose, or Salinas. These areas offer a wider range of lodging options and are within a reasonable driving distance from the festival grounds.

When selecting accommodations, take into consideration factors such as location, proximity to the festival, amenities, and budget. It’s also advisable to review guest feedback and ratings before making your reservation.


If you’re planning to stay overnight, it’s recommended to book your accommodations well in advance, as hotels and rental properties tend to fill up quickly during the festival weekend. This ensures you secure the best rates and availability for your desired stay.


Now that you have accommodation options in mind, let’s explore the safety and security measures in place at the Gilroy Garlic Festival.


Safety and Security Measures

The organizers of the Gilroy Garlic Festival prioritize the safety and security of all attendees. Several measures are in place to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone. Here’s an overview of the safety and security measures implemented during the festival:

  • Security Personnel: Trained security personnel are present throughout the festival grounds to monitor the event and respond to any potential issues. They work closely with local law enforcement to maintain a safe environment.
  • Bag Check and Entry Screening: As a security measure, bag checks and entry screenings may be conducted at the entrance to the festival. This is done to ensure the safety of all attendees and to prevent prohibited items from being brought onto the premises.
  • Emergency Services: The festival has designated medical stations and first aid personnel available to assist with any medical needs or emergencies that may arise. If you require medical attention, seek assistance from the nearest festival staff member or security personnel.
  • Crowd Control Measures: To manage crowd flow and ensure a safe environment, certain areas of the festival may have capacity limits. Pay attention to signage and directions from event staff to navigate through the festival grounds smoothly.
  • Communication Channels: In the event of any emergencies or important announcements, the festival organizers utilize loudspeakers and communication channels such as social media or the festival’s official website to keep attendees informed and updated.
  • Lost and Found: If you lose any personal belongings during the festival, there is a dedicated lost and found area where you can report and potentially retrieve your items. Contact festival staff or security personnel for assistance.
  • Weather Preparedness: As the festival takes place outdoors, it’s important to be prepared for various weather conditions. Stay informed about the weather forecast and dress accordingly. In the event of adverse weather conditions, the festival organizers will provide appropriate guidance and precautions.
  • Personal Safety: Take personal safety precautions while attending the festival. Be mindful of your belongings, avoid leaving valuables unattended, and stay aware of your surroundings. If you notice any suspicious activity or feel unsafe, notify festival staff or security personnel immediately.

By adhering to these safety measures and staying vigilant, you can help ensure a secure and enjoyable experience at the Gilroy Garlic Festival.


Now that you’re aware of the safety measures in place, you’re ready to embark on a garlic-filled adventure at the festival. Enjoy the flavors, the entertainment, and the vibrant atmosphere as you celebrate everything garlic!



The Gilroy Garlic Festival is a must-visit event for garlic lovers and food enthusiasts alike. From the moment you step onto the festival grounds, you’ll be greeted with a mouthwatering array of garlic-infused dishes, talented musicians, and a lively and vibrant atmosphere.


With its diverse food options, live entertainment, and engaging activities, the festival offers a truly immersive and memorable experience. From cooking demonstrations by renowned chefs to garlic braiding demonstrations and competitive cook-offs, there is something to engage and delight visitors of all ages.


To make the most of your visit, it’s important to plan ahead. Arriving early, familiarizing yourself with the festival schedule, and taking advantage of the various transportation options available will ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience.


During your time at the festival, savor the range of garlic-infused dishes, soak in the lively music performances, and explore the arts and crafts exhibits. Take the opportunity to learn more about the history and health benefits of garlic or indulge in some garlic-themed souvenirs to commemorate your visit.


Remember to stay hydrated, protect yourself from the sun, and be mindful of safety guidelines provided by festival staff. By following these tips and embracing the festive spirit, you’ll create lasting memories and leave the Gilroy Garlic Festival with a newfound appreciation for the pungent and flavorful bulb.


So, grab your appetite, gather your friends and family, and get ready for a garlic-filled adventure like no other. The Gilroy Garlic Festival awaits, ready to tantalize your taste buds and leave you with a newfound love for all things garlicky.