Heading to Lollapalooza for the first time? First, I suggest you read our Lollapalooza 101 Guide, which goes over all the basic information you need to know about Lollapalooza. This article isn’t going to go over the same, generic information about Lollapalooza. This is our insider tips page, things I wish I had known before going to Lollapalooza for the first time. Think of this as passing information/pro tips to the next generation of Lollapalooza first timers. I hope after reading this and our Lollapalooza 101 article you are 100% ready to head off to Lollapalooza and have a blast.
Over 80,000 people attend Lollapalooza per day. Anytime you have this many people in one area you are sure to get poor cell phone reception. One thing I always advise in times like these is to timestamp your texts. Don’t say “Meet at Perry's”, say “Meet at Perry's – 9:30”. Sometimes texts come through at later times than when sent out and you don’t want to confuse your friends. This usually isn't a problem early in the day but it does become more pervasive throughout the day.
Chicago has one of the best public transportation systems in the country and the festival is located in the most central location of any music festival. There is no reason to drive to Lollapalooza. Take the train, take a bus, bike, walk – do anything but drive to Lollapalooza. If you are looking for detailed advice on how to get to Lollapalooza check this out.
Everyone plans for how they are getting to Lollapalooza but often neglect to plan for how they are going to get home. Uber and Lyft is obviously an option, and a good one if you enjoy 900% surcharges. Rideshares are going to be hard to acquire and when you see the bill you will wish you hadn’t found one. I really don’t advise taking an Uber home. If you biked it should be easy to get out of there, but if not know which bus/train line you are going to take and how you are getting there. Keep in mind there will be an immediate rush to the trains after Lollapalooza lets out, so if you go at this time expect lines and to be packed in there. I suggest finding a nearby restaurant or bar and getting some food or a drink to kill time, let the initial rush pass, and then head home. Your train will be far less crowded and you should be able to hop right on a train.
Lollapalooza is a long weekend, and one that will likely ruin whatever shoes you wear. By the end of it they will be covered in dirt, sweat, booze, etc - be sure to only wear shoes and clothes you are comfortable with getting dirty and potentially ruining. Comfort over style at Lolla!
See our list of Recommended Lollapalooza Essentials to make sure you don't forget anything important.
You will get separated from your group. You could go to the bathroom and drunkenly not be able to find your way back. You could split away and head off to different shows. You could just get lost. Whatever the reason is for your splitting off from the group you should have a designated meetup spot so everyone knows where you will be meeting at the end of the night. This saves you a lot of time gathering everyone on the way out.
If you are hell bent on getting a great spot for an artist you will want to show up at least a show in advance if the artist you want to see is fairly well known. Once the previous show ends a lot of people will leave and you will be able to move up a good amount in this transition. You can’t expect to show up five minutes before a big show and get a good spot. You need to show up early! If you can stay at one stage for a few shows you can usually make your way all the way up, so it could be advantageous to not move around too much if you don't have artists you really want to catch.
Yes, you should make a plan and have a general idea of what artists you want to see and know where they are playing. However, don’t schedule your entire Lollapalooza weekend down to the minute. Shit is going to happen and you won’t fully stick to your plan. That’s perfectly OK; part of the fun with Lollapalooza is just ending up where you end up. Don’t be a schedule Nazi.
I recommend getting the official app for every music festival and Lollapalooza is no exception. The official Lollapalooza app is really nifty and let’s you see who is playing where. You can also fill in your schedule with who you want to see and share it with your squad. One final feature I utilize a lot is the map to find the food we want to check out. They will be handing out physical maps and schedules at Lollapalooza but I always prefer just using the app.
Perry's is where most of the EDM acts go on at Lollapalooza. It's also notorious for overly drunk teenagers who don't know proper etiquette or how to hold their liquor. Mentally prepare yourself for this if you are going to go to Perry's stage. Is it everyone? No, but it is enough people so the stage has a reputation for it. This Reddit post covers it pretty well.
If you head over to Chow Town after the last set has wrapped up you can often get freebies or discounts on food. This is food they have prepared and are just going to throw away because they need to clean up for the night, so you can usually get food at a discount at worst. Some vendors are more likely to do this than others, but it's worth doing a driveby at the end of the night and checking it out if you're hungry.
There you have it, all my insider tips for Lollapalooza. Got other tips? Let us know in the comments below! Hopefully this article has given you some good ideas to prepare for your upcoming Lolla trip. It's a great festival, and with these easy to implement tips you are sure to have a great time!