Get Ready for Lollapalooza in August

lollaLollapalooza, which began as a farewell tour for Jane’s Addition in 1991 (and ran until 1997), has been held every year in Grant Park in Chicago since 2005. The event lasts three days and features both big-name acts and lesser known up and comers. This year’s festival will be held August 5-7. Here’s what you need to know.

The line-up

The full line-up is available online, along with a handy scheduling tool that will help you plan your days at the festival. Among the performers currently scheduled to appear are Eminem, Foo Fighters, Coldplay, Muse, Bright Eyes, Flogging Molly and many more.

Tickets are on sale now

Tickets are now sold out, but regular 3-day passes were available for $215 each.

VIP passes are $850 and include access to the Lolla Lounges and special viewing platforms, access to shaded seating areas and reserved air-conditioned restrooms, mini spa treatments and gourmet happy hour, and unlimited food and drink all day long for all three days.

There are also several travel packages available. These range from $1129 (three nights and general admission for two) to $2499 (two VIPs for three days) and include admission to the festival, hotel accommodations, and Lollapalooza t-shirts and posters.

Children 10 and under are free with a paying adult.

Coming and going

The main entrance will be located near the Buckingham Fountain, near Columbus and Congress, with an additional entrance near Columbus and Monroe. If you’re coming from Michigan Avenue, you can take the Red Line to Jackson and State, or hop on any bus heading south on Michigan or State and get off at Monroe.

Three-day ticket holders will receive wristbands that allow them to come and go from the festival grounds (passing through security each time). Single-day ticket holders cannot re-enter.

lolla2Packing for the day

Like at most festivals, there are some things you can’t bring to Lollapalooza, both obvious (outside food and drink, booze or drugs, chairs and large umbrellas, commercial recording equipment, weapons, pets, and hard-sided coolers). You can bring some creature comforts though – including picnic blankets, soft-sided coolers, water bottles (like Nalgene or Sigg), two factory-sealed liter containers of bottled water, baby strollers, towels, service animals, and hand-held umbrellas.

You will be checked upon entering the festival, so it’s wise to not try to smuggle in any prohibited items – or at least not anything you’d be too sad to have confiscated.


If you don’t go with the all-inclusive VIP package, you’ll need to budget for food and drinks at the festival. If you have a three-day pass, you can leave the grounds for slightly cheaper food and drink, but you don’t want to miss any of the action, you’ll want to plan on buying provisions inside and that can get costly.

Beers and drinks at Lollapalooza average about $5-7 and most food dishes are $7-$9. So, if you plan on eating lunch and dinner and having 4-5 beers, expect to pay about $40 to $60 per day for food and drinks. But remember, you can bring in your own bottled water, and many vendors offer up free samples of snacks like chips, energy drinks and granola bars. You can also try to smuggle in some cheap snacks of your own. The worst that can happen is they get tossed out on your way through the gates.

Where to eat around Lollapalooza

If you do want to save some money by heading outside the gates for meals – or if you just need to escape the crowds and heat for a bit – there are lots of options for inexpensive places nearby.

Plymouth – (327 S. Plymouth Ct., 1 block south of Jackson, west of State) Plymouth is a casual bar with a great rooftop deck. They serve cold beer, heaping salads, and surprisingly good burgers.

The Gage – (24 S. Michigan, 1 block north of Monroe) The Gage is slightly more upscale, serving cocktails, beer, and creative pub fare.

Jamba Juice, Caribou Coffee, Cafe Bacci – (on Michigan Ave, around Monroe) If you’re with a group on want multiple options, head up Michigan Avenue, just across from Millennium Park and take your pick from pizza, sandwiches, pastries, and smoothies.

Bennigan’s – (150 S. Michigan Avenue, one block north of Adams) Yes, it’s a chain, but it’s cheap and filling, with a wide and reasonably priced beer selection. Good if you just want something to soak up the alcohol.

Flat Top Grill – ( 30 S. Wabash, 2 blocks west of Michigan, 2 block south of Madison) For the health-conscious crowd, Flat Top allows you to make your own stir-fry with meats, fish, tofu, veggies, and rice or noodles. Unlimited helpings are $9.99.

Miller’s Pub – (134 S. Wabash, 1 block west of Michigan, north of Adams) An old-school joint full of history, Miller’s has been around since the 1930’s. Offerings range from shrimp cocktail and prime rib to buffalo wings, ribs, and spaghetti. Most entrees range from $9-$15.

Quick subs – If you just want a cheap and filling sub sandwich, take your pick of Potbelly, (55 E. Jackson, just west of Michigan) Quizno’s, (33 S. State, just south of Jackson) or Jimmy Johns (249 S. State, just north of Jackson).

Where to stay

The best Chicago hotels for Lollapaloozo will be located closest to Grant Park (or course, these will be the mos expensive). You can also look in what is technically the South Loop (anything south of Jackson, but north of Roosevelt will be ideal) like the Blackstone Hotel.

If you’re on a budget, consider staying at the Hostelling International Hostel, where dorm beds start at $29 each, or look at hotels further north, in Wrigleyville or Lakeview. If you want to do some sightseeing outside of Grant Park, stay at a hotel on or near the Magnificent Mile to be located to most of the other major sights.

Getting to Chicago

If you’re flying in, there are several airports close to Lollapalooza, including O’Hare and Midway. It’s usually easy to find cheap airfare to Chicago, as the city’s airports are among the busiest in the US, and competition helps keep the prices down. If you’re coming from elsewhere in the Midwest, getting to Chicago via bus, train, or car is often the cheapest option.

Photos by moschell, kisokiso