Our Lollapalooza 2017 Survival Guide & Cheat Sheet
By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 2, 2017 5:44PM
Aerial shot of Lollapalooza 2016 courtesy of Soaring Badger Productions
At four days, Lollapalooza is no longer just another festival, it can become a test of your endurance. Last year I logged walking 47.02 miles over the duration of the fest, so I'm not exaggerating or being cheeky when I say Lollapalooza is not a sprint, it's a marathon. But if you plan correctly, and arrive prepared, it can be a ton of fun. Here are a few tips and tricks I've learned attending Lollapalooza over the last 26 years. (Yup, my first Lolla was the O.G. in 1991 and I've been to just about every one since then!)
Bring a poncho. Even when the forecast doesn’t call for rain (though this weekend's forecast does), it will rain. It always rains. Trust us. You should go with a plan for where you'll meet friends if people have to evacuate the grounds—which leads into our second tip.
Make a game plan with friends before heading to the fest. Do not go to Grant Park and expect to text your pals and plan out where to go and what to do when you get there. There will be no cellphone signal. Texts, if they come through at all, come in cascades every three hours or so. We’ve seen people spend half of the day literally running around the park trying to find a strong enough signal. So plan ahead! If you need help picking a some acts to fill your schedule, we've got you covered.
Take hand sanitizer. It can get pretty sketchy around the bathroom lines, and we don’t think you want to suffer self-inflicted illness by eating delicious Chowtown grub with dirty hands. Sanitizer definitely comes in handy. Also, use liberally if you’re giving out lots of high-fives at Perry’s stage.
Wear sensible shoes. We know it’s hot and we know you want to wear flip-flops, but you’re also going to be hiking a couple miles each day traveling from stage to stage, and if it rains (which it will) you probably don’t want mud squishing around your toes. Also, when watching the bands, someone will step on those toes. So protect yourself.
Dress for the weather. It will get hot. Really hot. You'll be baking under the sun for four days, so keep in mind that it will often feel warmer than what the thermometer on your weather app says.
Drink lots of water. Bring a container and keep it filled. The last thing you want to be telling your kids is the story of the time you went to Lolla and spent the afternoon passed out with heatstroke, or worse.
Buy a koozie. We always buy some when we’re there. After drinking all that water you should reward yourself with an ice cold beer that stays cold.
Don't miss the wine. If beer isn’t your thing, the huge “water bottles” of wine are the best bang for your booze buck at Lollapalooza.
Don't get separated from friends, plan ahead! Photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
Download the Lollapalooza app and enable notifications, and grab a physical schedule upon arrival. The app is the best way to plan out your schedule and get updates from festival organizers throughout the weekend. This is especially useful in case strong weather approaches, as it has a few times in previous years, so you know the evacuation plan. The paper schedule is for easy reference so that when crowds block the way to the stage you’re trying to get to, you can make a snap decision on who else to see that’s within close proximity. You can get the iOS app, or download the Android version.
Make time for Chow Town. Unlike most large festivals, Lollapalooza’s food choices are actually pretty great. Graham Elliot curates the food selections again this year, so there are plenty of local restaurants and the quality is top-notch. Dig in to fest feasts from Kuma's Corner, BJ's Market and Bakery, Broken English Taco Pub, Mrs. Murphy and Sons Irish Bistro, and Tallboy Taco.
To get through the lines fast, leave the selfie stick at home. Check out the list of allowed and prohibited items ahead of time and avoid arguing with the security staff—and holding up the whole line behind you—because you’re upset you can’t bring something in. You can also activate your wristband ahead of time so you arrive at the fest ready and raring to go.
Check out Perry’s stage. There are things that you can’t unsee at Perry’s stage, Lolla's EDM stage. (Ironically, it's named after Lollapalooza founder Perry Farrell, who now hates EDM.) Lose your inhibitions at Perry's, at least for a few minutes—but hey, also be kind to each other. This is the stage that often draws the most fans out of their mind on various substances so try and contribute to positive party vibes.
This is the map, make it your friend. And don’t stay in one place all day. You’ve paid hundreds (or thousands) of dollars for this experience. Make the most of it.
You can view a larger version of the map here.
Don't have tickets? You don't have to miss the fest. There's still VIP passes left, if you have a spare couple of grand lying around.
If not, Red Bull TV is streaming most of the acts, and we'll be hosting an embed of that broadcast, so you can cuddle up with Chicagoist and watch the music from the comfort of your own home. Slap a beer in a koozie and it's almost like you're there in person!