We’ve written about great boutique festivals in the past with a focus on the pairing of great food and great music and while our more recent festival guide to Flow Festival also demonstrated this San Francisco’s Outside Lands is a major festival (that’s 40,000-60,000 punters per day) that manages the pairing unlike few others.

We’ll get to the food and beverage bit later in our seven-step guide to the event, but first to the mouth-watering lineups they’ve produced since their 2008 inaugural year.

It’s not just having the big names that run the rounds of the festival circuit every year that makes Outside Lands worth raving about. It’s the fact that the festival manages to book ‘white whales’ that don’t appear on every other lineup of the North American summer.

In 2012 it was Metallica, Stevie Wonder and Neil Young alongside Jack White, Foo Fighters, Beck and Sigur Ros. While in 2013 they managed Paul McCartney, Pretty Lights, Nine Inch Nails, and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

But perhaps the biggest evidence of Outside Lands booking abilities is that they haven’t relied on the Outkast reunion tour like just about every other festival in the world in 2014.

Instead they’ve gone for Kanye West, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, The Killers, Macklemore, Arctic Monkeys, Death Cab For Cutie, Disclosure and The Flaming Lips amongst a bunch of others.

See the amazing 2014 lineup below.

Big lineups and food are just two facets of the festival’s success, the other is the picturesque surrounds of the Golden Gate Park. As the festival attests to over on their website “Millions of people have visited the Park over the years, but only a few know of all the rich nuggets that it harbours”.

Outside Lands provides you with the perfect opportunity to soak up this often missed sight with some of the best food and music at the same time.

Needless to say the festival has the complete package. It doesn’t hurt either that it’s held in one of America’s most culturally rich music cities either.

So how do you get there, when should you book and what should you do at the festival and San Francisco? We answer all the pressing questions for 2014 and future attendees below.

1.Tickets Are Sold Out So Start Digging Or Start Planning For 2015

If you’re already lucky enough to have snagged tickets for the 2014 festival you can rest easy. But for the rest of us it’s going to be a pretty hard slog acquiring these much sought after passes. Heck even the luxurious VIP passes got swept up pretty quickly. So that leaves us with two options. Scour the net for those looking to offload their tickets or plan for 2015. You can bet the August dates of 8-10th is unlikely to differ too much in 2015 so it might be a good idea to book some cheap early bird flights for next year. And keep your eyes out for on sale dates and times in the early months of 2015.

2. Accommodation In San Francisco

This is not a camping festival which means the hassle of lagging tents around won’t be an issue however finding accommodation in San Fran may be a little tougher for if you happen to be caught off guard. Once you’ve booked flights we’d suggest booking a hotel or hostel as soon as possible, otherwise couch surfing will be your next best option. Some of the best hostels in the city include USA Hostels, Hostelling International (all three of them), Orange Village Hostel, Amsterdam Hostel and Encore Express.

3. Getting To The Festival Site

The festival discourages driving because of the lack of parking in nearby neighbourhoods and in the park, but that’s unlikely to cause much disturbance to international visitors like us. When buying your tickets online Outside Lands also offers a US $45 three-day shuttle pass from the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in the city centre. Otherwise you can plan your PT journey via here or just catch a cab.

4. Loosen a Few Notches In Your Belt, The Food Is Second Only To The Music

Few events have food lineups that are just as highly anticipated as the actual band lineup. With over 69 food vendors providing the best of San Francisco’s foodies there really shouldn’t be a time when you haven’t got a burger or dessert on the go. There really is too much goodness to recommend. However make sure you pay a visit to all the food areas including Chocolands and Cheeselands as well as the food truck precinct.

5. Drink All The Wine And Beer You Can

To wash all that food down or to keep you hydrated after all the food induced drooling you’ll need plenty of beer and wine to help you through the weekend. Wine Lands gives you the best wine the area and wider America has to offer while Beer Lands does the same. To say you’re spoilt for choice is understatement. Responsible drinking may or may not be impossible at Outside Lands.

6. Also, Don’t Miss The Art Either

As if you could fit anything else in between the eating, drinking and watching live acts the festival isn’t content to miss out on satisfying every punter they can. Outsider Art takes the “several prolific artists and storytellers from San Francisco and abroad to provide a diverse range of daily live painting, musical theatre, art-performance and installations”. There is also a comedy and variety tent and the eco tent to provide information on sustainability and environmental practices.

7. While You’re In Town Check Out The Best The San Francisco Music Scene Has To Offer

This one’s a given but you need to stay in San Francisco for at least a week, if not more, to experience the cultural delights of this beautiful city. The music scene probably warrants its own trip. If that’s the way you’re heading we put together this guide to the city’s music scene some time ago.

Check out the Tone Deaf guide to San Francisco’s music scene here.