Ten years ago, my idea of making the most out of Lollapalooza and other festivals was showing up when the gates opened, leaving when they kicked everyone out and wandering around and watching everything and everyone in between. Now I’m a planner. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m getting older, festival apps are making it easier, this new four day thing is making festivals feel like they last a month or a combination of all of that. Obviously everyone’s schedule will be vastly different, so there’s no point in sharing the whole thing here. Below are just some of the outlines that I use when starting to plan my Lollapalooza schedule. I will also share my decision on each point, but you do you.
First, start by downloading the Lollapalooza Chicago Official App. You can keep your own personal schedule there as well as look at the entire thing. If you download and use the official app, make sure to disable location services and not use the Friend Finder feature, which will just drain your battery even faster. Have a meet-up point like in the old days.
Pick a day that you absolutely have to get there when the gates open.
For me, this is a once a weekend occurrence. Especially with whatever they did last year that made lines to enter an hour long. This year, Sunday is that day for me as rough as it may be. I am going to make sure I don’t miss Barns Courtney open the Bud Light stage at 1:00.
Pick a day (or two… or four) that you absolutely have to stay until the end.
I usually only stay until the very end of the night on one or two days. It helps to beat a lot of the foot traffic that can turn a 10 minute walk back to the hotel into a 45 minute zombie crawl. This year, I’m not going to miss The xx or Chance the Rapper on Saturday, and want to spend a good amount of time at each. If I want to take time to watch both headliners, I usually end at the one closer to the side of the park that my hotel is on – unless I have reason to believe a certain song or special appearance will interfere with that plan.
Leave some time for the amazing food.
Lollapalooza is unique in that its food area, known as Chow Town, is curated by nationally known chef and Chicago local Graham Elliot. It features booths from some of Chicago’s favorite restaurants. Real, actual, restaurants that I would actually want to eat from. I love Chow Town so much that I actually wrote a review about it last year as if it were a festival itself. Check out all of the restaurants throughout the weekend. Don’t stick to one – get a main dish from one and a side from another, and then do that 5 more times.
Pick a day to dip out a little early and attend an aftershow.
Each year, there are more and more aftershows, both official and not, popping up that are becoming like entire festivals themselves. These are planned later in the night so you could technically head over after closing out Lollapalooza, but I like to appear at least semi-decent at these things. I usually attend one a year and make it an artist that I would rather see in a small setting than at a fest. This year, I am going to get my Blink-182 fix in for about 20 minutes on Friday and then leave to check out Ryan Adams at the Vic Theatre. Check out Lollapalooza’s website for all of the aftershows.
- Leave some free time for a chance to discover artists you didn’t know existed.
- Like I mentioned before, last year the lines to enter were insanely long – even longer than they have been in the past. I’m sure that will be addressed in one way or another this year, but either way give yourself a good 45 minutes to an hour to arrive before the first artist you want to see that day.
- If you are staying downtown, walk. Don’t be tempted to take a bus, or especially a taxi, if you are within a 20 – 30 minute walk to the festival unless you absolutely have to. The amount of money you spend on that throughout the weekend won’t be worth the extra 10 minutes it might save you.
- Don’t forget about what the rest of Chicago has to offer. There are so many free (Lincoln Park Zoo) and cheap (museums) things to see and do around the city. If there’s a day you don’t want to get to Lollapalooza until later in the afternoon, resist the urge to pre-game in your hotel all morning and go out and do something!