Lollapalooza 101 for Parents

Adults can do Lolla—oh yes they can! I go every year and I’m 54.

It’s a great 4-day music fest—you can buy passes for 1, 2, 3 or 4 days—in Grant Park, the heart of our beautiful city. Unlike other fests, it’s not in the middle of nowhere. It’s somewhere good—with lake breezes, Buckingham Fountain, and a gorgeous skyline as a backdrop. It’s easy to get to, easy to navigate, clean, safe, organized, escapable and doable. Food is catered by Chicago restaurants. There’s ample water, it’s easy to walk everywhere, it’s simply civil. They’ve thought of everything: there’s a hammock lounge under the trees, lounge chairs and picnic tables in the food area, free water refills and spray misters for when it gets hot, green shopping for cool stuff, a smart schedule to plan what bands to see, an iPhone App to stay organized and connected, and best of all, Kidzapalooza for families, with cool activities and their own stage.

General admission tickets for 2017 Lollapalooza are sold out, but VIP passes can be found on their website. Check out the lineup featuring Chance the Rapper and Lorde here!

Here are a few tips:

Must haves: backpack, hat or visor, sunscreen, small umbrella, money, package of ear plugs (they’re not uncool, they’re smart and you’ll see people with them), poncho, flip flops, ticket, sunglasses, bandanna (many uses),  phone, small plastic bags (in case of rain for phone), water bottle holder (hands free), Lolla booklet (pick it up at entrance)—includes daily schedule—pen, layered clothing, hair band, comfortable shoes, plastic trash bag to sit on, fanny pack so some things are simple to reach (phone, money), Advil. Watch the weather forecast—the worst is to be freezing and stuck outside all day.

Nice to have: snacks, phone charger, change of clothes in case you get rained on (otherwise it’s a chilly ride home), packs of wipes (next best thing to a shower), opera glasses if you want up close and personal look at the artist (but there are jumbotrons … ), Gatorade powder to mix in water bottle.

Make a plan: Decide when/where you’re going to meet up with your kids, friends.

Cell phones: Don’t count on them, as coverage is often spotty.

Hot weather: There’s shade under trees, soak your bandanna in water and put it on your neck/forehead, drink water, water, and more water!

Warn your kids about drinking and sun/heat. They don’t mix. Check in with your kids. See them when they come home. Don’t let them stay overnight at a friend’s house. Give ultimatums if they do something stupid. They can miss the 4 days of great music if they screw up on day 1.  Period. Have zero tolerance and enforce it.

Things to tolerate: Muddy feet, being hot/sweaty, bad hair day, crowds (yes it’s crowded, but you never feel boxed in or pushed around), loud music (but not crazy loud)—just pop in ear plugs if you want some quiet, occasional spotty cell phone coverage (improves every year).

Don’t go to the front by the stage. That’s where the kids go. It is crowded there. It’s really nice to stay back, people watch, and there are huge jumbotrons at every stage so you can see everything.

Considering visiting one of the “Autograph” tents (see the schedule)—you stand in line to get a quick hello and autograph from your favorite artists

If you drive, park away from Grant Park (north on Michigan Avenue or west toward the Loop) and walk to your parking at end of day.

After Shows: Some of the downtown venues will host an “After Show” concert at 11 p.m. with a Lolla band playing their venue. The Lolla website lists the official after shows.


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Updated August 1, 2017 by Manon Blackman