Chicago’s Lollapalooza is a hot mess in the best possible sense. Every year, thousands of people jam into Grant Park for four days of nonstop music, partying, and eating during the hottest month of the city’s short-lived, but glorious summer.
This year, Lolla runs from August 3 to August 6. Here’s everything you need to know about the lineup and how to make the most out of your festival experience.
How to Get There
For festival goers coming in from out of town, flying into Chicago should be a breeze. You can land at O’Hare International Airport or Chicago Midway International Airport. O’Hare might be easier; the CTA’s Blue Line train runs directly from the airport to downtown Chicago. The CTA’s extensive network of trains and buses will get you pretty much anywhere you need to go in the city. It’s also pretty easy to snag a cab or use your phone to hail a trusty Lyft or Uber.
Both airports will have plenty of car rental options, but Chicago is known for its nightmarish parking situation – particularly downtown. You could park in a garage, like Grant Park North Garage, near the festival, or consider walking. Grant Park is centrally located for anyone staying in the downtown area. If you are staying outside the city proper, you can hop on a Metra train to Union Station.
Where to Stay
Chicago has plenty of hotel options for Lolla goers who want to be as close to the action as possible. Stay at the Palmer House or the Hilton Chicago on the Magnificent Mile for an upscale place to rest your head post-festival. The walk to Grant Park from both hotels is less than a mile. If you want somewhere to really cool off after dancing all day, book a room at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel. This hotel is a five-minute walk from the festival, and it has an amazing outdoor pool.
Camping out for Lollapalooza isn’t really an option, but you can go for a more relaxed style with an Airbnb. Choose from thousands of different places to stay. Book a condo right on Michigan Avenue, or opt for a place in one of the city’s hip neighborhoods – think Lincoln Park or Bucktown.
Which Artists to Catch
Ah, the real reason you are counting down the days to Lolla. This festival brings together some of the greatest artists in pop, rap, hip-hop, electronica, rock, and more. The lineup this year delivers on that promise and then some. Here are the headliners to look for:
Thursday: Cage the Elephant, Lorde, Muse, Wiz Khalifa
Friday: Blink-182, DJ Snake, The Killers, Run the Jewels
Saturday: alt-J, Chance the Rapper, The Head and the Heart, The XX
Sunday: Arcade Fire, Big Sean, Justice, The Shins, Zeds Dead
And the headliners are just the beginning. With more than 40 artists performing every day, your biggest problem is going to be deciding which stage to rush to next.
What to Eat
Your go-to spot for food will be Lollapalooza’s Chow Town, a veritable feast of options pulled together by celebrity chef, Graham Elliot. Look for the famous Billy Goat Tavern, decadent grilled cheese from Cheesie’s Pub and Grill, the best burgers in town (highly debated, but trust us on this one) from Kuma’s Corner, and more. Just make sure you arrive hungry.
What to Pack
Opt for light, breathable fabrics when picking your outfit. You’ll see a lot of shorts and maxi dresses on women. Men will be wearing a mix of casual and hipster-esque outfits. Leave the stylish-but-oh-so-painful shoes at home. Grant Park is going to get muddy, and the odds of having your feet stepped on at some point are pretty high.
Remember to bring basic outdoor supplies like sunscreen, sunglasses, and lip balm. You can also bring in an empty water bottle; the festival has free fill-up stations. The outdoor bathrooms are inevitable, so pack up copious amounts of hand sanitizer and a spare roll of toilet paper. Lastly, come armed with enough cash to burn on a day’s worth of festival food and drinks.
What VIP Gets You
The Lollapalooza VIP experience gets you access to two exclusive VIP headquarters, one located by the north stage and one by the south stage. Skip the crowds and the unrelenting sun in favor of comfy seats and plenty of shade. Plus, VIP golf carts will ferry you back and forth between lounges. The biggest bonus? You don’t have to fight to see the performances. Both VIP Lolla Lounges have viewing platforms that give you a direct view of the stage.
If you weren’t already convinced that going VIP would be amazing, all VIP wristband holders get to avoid the bane of all festivals: the porta potty. Instead, you can use indoor (air-conditioned!) bathrooms.
The VIP experience continues to heap on the perks. Your wristband means you have access to the all-you-can-drink and all-you-can-eat bars and cafés. Sip on complimentary beer, wine, and cocktails while you dance the day and night away. (Don’t forget to fit some bottles of water in there somewhere too). The lounges are also going to be serving up complimentary food from Big Star and Publican Quality Meats. We don’t blame you if you already started to drool a little.
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