Napa’s BottleRock Festival

Thousands of Fans Gather for Fun, Food, and Music

Gwen Stefani

More than 100,000 music, food, and wine lovers swarmed downtown Napa May 29-31 for the third annual BottleRock Festival. This year’s three-day lineup included artisanal foods from world-renown chefs, local wines, and microbreweries, and top musical acts including No Doubt, Snoop Dogg, and Robert Plant performing across five different stages.

The atmosphere at BottleRock is a far cry from kindred California music festivals such as Burning Man and Coachella. Unlike those desert gatherings, BottleRock’s audience draws in showgoers of all ages (including many families with small children) as well as foodies and wine lovers. A laid-back festival full of white paper lanterns, patio umbrellas, and over 72 musical acts, BottleRock is not a camping trip–it’s a resort getaway.

Here are some of this year’s festival highlights:

The Food and Fun

Whole Foods’ Coconut Lounge: The first oasis I encountered on my journey. A large tent filled with chairs, tables, and outlets to charge phones–not to mention the delicious $5 raw coconuts!

Wine, beer, and craft drinks: The lines for food and drinks at this festival were surprisingly short! If you’re a wine connoisseur, try a local drink from one of Napa’s wineries next year- BottleRock offered an entire Wine Bar dedicated to finding your perfect fit. I don’t speak wine, so I went with a Time Bandit at Sailor Jerry’s. In no way do I regret that decision.

Free haircuts at Sailor Jerry’s: Did I mention you can make the reckless and free decision to get a haircut while drinking your rum? A lot of showgoers seemed pretty pleased with the combination!

Deserts: In one day I ate two crepes (apple caramel and cinnamon), a chocolate cupcake, and a small pie (peach and blueberry). The pie was incredible, and the calories fueled me to dance for the rest of the show.

Silent Disco: I’ve been hearing about silent discos for years, but this is the first successful one I’ve seen. Attendees wore headphones and danced to a DJ’s live set, which was being sent straight to the earbuds. If you go in without headphones, you can’t hear a thing and the whole show is even more entertaining.

Snoop Dogg’s culinary debut: Snoop Dogg is capable of rolling something other than a joint! On day three, the rapper made California rolls with one of Napa’s favorite chefs, Morimoto, passing out samples to a lucky few fans in the front row at the Culinary Stage.

The Music

Kelley James: Equally charismatic on and off-stage, this singer-songwriter responded to press interview questions entirely in freestyle raps and spontaneous singing and dancing. Smart, funny, and talented.

Trampled By Turtles: The most boisterous set of the festival. This Minnesota bluegrass/folk-rock band has a cult following, and it’s no wonder: the band jammed with such enthusiasm I half expected them to jump into the audience and perform with their fans. And the beach balls tossed out into the crowd during their set were a definite plus!

Snoop Dogg’s Set: Snoop performed his raps featured in other people’s songs like “California Gurls,” “Wiggle,” “I Wanna Love You,” as well as singing a pretty fun rendition of House of Pain’s hit “Jump Around.”

No Doubt: Gwen Stefani debuted an edgy new hairstyle– platinum with black tips; the band seemed just as stoked to perform as the fans were to attend; and they played fan favorites like “Hella Good” and “Just a Girl.” Stefani, graceful as always, recovered immediately from both the mic stand toppling over (she sang just as passionately on the floor) and when the band’s screen went dead (she powered right through with enough energy to keep even the farthest-seated fans singing), resulting in arguably the most well-attended set of the festival.


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