With warmer weather finally around the corner for Chicago, festival season is making its way into the city. One of the largest and most popular music festivals of the summer is Lollapalooza, held in Grant Park every August. The 3-day concert is a huge event, and may seem daunting to first-time attendees or those who haven’t been for a while. Whether it’s your first year in Lollaland or you are a regular festival-goer, check out the list of tips below and hopefully you will find something to better your experience this July 31st – August 2nd.
NOTE: ticket buying is pretty much finished for 2015, but these tips may be helpful for future years!
- Ticket sales typically begin in late March. Early bird passes are the first batch of 3-day passes that go on sale, and cost around $250. Once those are sold, the remaining regular 3-day passes cost $275. 1-day passes go on sale later and cost $110. (Prices are for the 2015 festival)
- Lollapalooza tickets ALWAYS sell out very quickly, typically within minutes. If you are planning to buy tickets the day they go on sale, be ready!! Many people team up with friends or family to try for tickets on multiple devices.
- If you’re not sure you want to go all 3 days, wait for 1-day passes to go on sale. This usually happens within a week or so following the 3-day passes, after the lineup is announced.
- If you know early on in the year that you’d like to attend Lollapalooza, try your hand at free passes! Lollapalooza runs a competition for free 3-day passes called “Lucky Lolla” on their official page, leading up to the release of tickets. The festival also offers a secret sale, in which a limited number of 3-day passes are released for $75. Secret sale usually occurs early to mid-March, and a specific date and time are never given – it could occur anytime within a one-week period, so these less expensive tickets are extremely difficult to get! It never hurts to try though!
- After the Lollapalooza website sells out, tickets are available to purchase through StubHub and similar vendors. Prices for these tickets are usually inflated, so if possible wait until late July to purchase, because tickets prices are often lowered right before the festival in order to promote sales.
- Gates open at 11 AM and performances finish at 10 PM each day.
- The CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) is a very reliable and accessible form of transportation. Grant Park is located in the city’s downtown lakefront area and is not far at all from public transportation. There are multiple red line train stations within walking distance from the park (both Monroe and Jackson), as well as the Adams & Wabash “El” stop, which serves brown, pink, green, and orange line trains. Multiple bus routes also run near Grant Park, including the 151 and 66.
- Parking is available in underground garages, and can be reserved prior to traveling to the festival. If you are planning on driving, reserving parking beforehand is recommended! Click here to purchase discounted parking and to find a variety of parking options.
- Bicycle parking is available outside of the festival gates. BYOL (bring your own lock)!
- The area surrounding Grant Park becomes extremely crowded on festival days, so allow for extra time to find your way there and back home, especially if you are driving or biking. (The upside to this is that it’s almost impossible to get lost: just follow the crowd!)
What to Bring
You will be on your feet and moving around the majority of the day, so packing light is always recommended! That being said, you don’t want to catch yourself without any of your necessities. Below you will find some helpful tips on what to carry (and what not to carry) with you to make the most of your Lolla experience!
- Security will check your bag as you enter the festival gates. Save time by NOT carrying any restricted items, including outside food and drinks, illegal substances, weapons, chairs, and selfie sticks/tripods. A full list of prohibited and allowed items can be found on the Lollapalooza website.
- Keep in mind that you will be outside in the sun for the majority of the day! Extra sunscreen (non-aerosol only), hats with brims, sunglasses, and factory-sealed bottles of water (two per person allowed, up to 1 liter each) are always good items to pack.
- Most of the festival stages are located in the grass, and many are right off of baseball diamonds, so wet weather can create a very muddy ground. Waterproof boots are your best bet for footwear. If anything, try to stick with closed-toe shoes as you will be in close proximity with many people, and more likely than not your feet will be stepped on!
- Empty reusable water bottles (non-glass only, and including CamelBaks) can be brought into the festival grounds, where there are many volunteer-staffed water filling stations to encourage healthy hydration.
- Cell phones can be very useful at Lollapalooza, especially when you plan to meet up with friends. If you have room to bring a charger, do so, because there are device charging stations located near the main entrance just in case!
- Word of warning: a mobile signal can be hard to come by in certain areas of the park, so having a back-up meeting place is useful. Buckingham Fountain is a large and easy to find centrally-located landmark, which makes it a popular meeting destination.
- It gets very loud around the stages, so if you want to experience the festival scene without developing any hearing loss, foam ear plugs will do the trick. However, foam earplugs can muffle the sound and make the music hard to comprehend, so if you want to spend a little extra money, DownBeats and EarPeace are great brands that sell earplugs designed specifically for music.
Other Useful Tips
- There are plenty of food options available inside the festival, but they are not always the best option for those of us on a budget. If you have time between sets, take advantage of the festival’s exit and reentry policy (max. 5 times in/out per day) and grab lunch at one of the numerous fast food restaurants in the downtown area.
- Toilets located within the grounds are Porta Potties. Do what you will with this information. (Extra toilet paper/hand sanitizer can definitely come in handy.)
- Stages get crowded very quickly and very early (especially for the more popular acts), so plan ahead if you really want to be close to a certain artist! (To put it in perspective, some people will wait at the front of a stage for 9+ hours to be in the front row for a headliner.)
- By law in Illinois, a person cannot sell tickets at an event venue from anywhere other than the box office. This being said, scalping does happen.
- Children 10 years of age and under are given free entry (with a ticket-holding adult). Kidzapalooza is a kid-friendly festival within the Lollapalooza grounds, open from 11 AM to 5 PM each day. There, kids and parents can listen to live music, do arts and crafts, and participate in other fun activities! More information can be found here.
- In 2014, Lollapalooza had a pop-up shop filled with festival merchandise and souvenirs located at State and Randolph. There is now a permanent store in that location, but the pop-up shop may return elsewhere this year. It makes a nice alternative to shopping for gear at the festival (and last year, people who showed a Lolla wristband at the shop were given a discount, which was really cool)!