According to the Official ArenaNet GW2 Twitter Account, the first beta weekend open to the public (mainly to those who already pre-ordered) will be from April 27th to the 29th.
Pre-Orders for Guild Wars 2 started April 10th, and those who pre-order will have access to ALL beta weekends leading up to release, as well as a three day “head start” when retail launches. If you haven’t already, go pre-order so you can check out the beta.
ArenaNet has a large number of “official retailers” who you can pre-order from to be eligible for the bonuses, as well as simply buying a digital version.
I think this is great to allow regular players to get hands on experience with the game they have been seeing for so long only through videos. Regular player impressions matter more to me than press impressions in terms of gauging how good the game will be. To be honest, a lot of the press beta weekend videos were hard to watch, as almost all of them appeared to be inexperienced at gaming in general, with slow reactions and the dreaded “skill clicking”.
I won’t be too hard on them however, as they serve a useful purpose in showing and explaining the game to those of us without access yet. Also, most of the “casters” get access because they are popular, and they are popular because they are fun/interesting/informative to listen to for the average gamer, rather than for their excellence in gaming.