Every year Lollapalooza grows bigger and bigger. Now one of the most popular music festivals in the country, this annual three-day blowout in Chicago's Grant Park attracts people from all over the world, many of them first timers.
Whether it's knowing how to navigate Grant Park, where to get grub or what to wear, we've been around the Lolla block a few times and have some advice for you newcomers. You never know, these tips might even help a few festival veterans as well.
Make A Plan
Last year 300,000 people attended Lollapalooza. More than 100 bands are playing in 2014. Grant Park encompasses over 300 acres. In short, it's a lot to take in. Plan ahead. The Lollapalooza mobile app can be a great way to check the festival map or stay on top of the schedule but a printed version of each (available at the festival information tent near Buckingham Fountain) can also come in handy if the crowds are putting a cramp on your cellular service.
Make The Tough Decisions Ahead Of Time
The only downside to Lollapalooza's eight stages and three days worth of programming is that, at times, there are inevitable overlaps between performers. This writer's advice? Check the schedule in advance, make those tough decisions ahead of time and be at total peace with them by the time you get to Grant Park. Don't stress yourself out while you're trying to have fun at the fest. Will you catch a set from Eminem or English indie rockers the Arctic Monkeys (above)? Will Calvin Harris or Chicago's own Krewella be your EDM pick for Saturday night? These questions need answers! The only consolation is that there are no wrong choices.
Every year at Lollapalooza wallets are lost and ATM fees add up quicker than you'd think. For the first year ever Lollapalooza is introducing a cashless payment system for merch, food and beverage inside the park. The new system allows you to link your credit card to your Lollapalooza wristband's unique chip. That means you'll have one less thing to carry! For more info on the new system or to sign up, click here.
Don't Forget To Eat
At times, it seems like there's so much music and fun happening at Lolla that you couldn't possibly need anything else. You do. Don't forgo food thinking you'll be able to keep your energy up without it. Lollapalooza's Chow Town is a foodie festival within itself. Go-to burgers from the world famous Billy Goat Tavern, a heaping slice of deep dish from Lou Malnati's, a hearty grilled cheese and fried chicken sandwich from Cheesie's, a sweet treat from Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream (above) - the choice is yours! QUICK TIP: Traditional meal times can get crowded at Chow Town - if you can try to get your grub at a downtime to avoid long waits. To see the list of restaurants at Lollapalooza this year, click here.
Believe it or not, water is another one of those things that you'll need--especially when you're dancing away three full days in August. You can bring up to two factory sealed water bottles (no larger than one liter) into the park with you. Keep an eye out for free water bottle refill stations throughout the park too.
Those cute new sandals (with zero arch support) will not be your friends by Sunday evening. Remember, it's a music festival, not a fashion show. Dress comfortably and, in case of rain, don't wear anything you definitely don't want getting muddy. Three-days trekking around Grant Park takes a lot out of your body and soles. It's a good idea to check the weather ahead of time to help ensure your comfort.
Explore The Park
When you're not jamming, take some time to explore all that Grant Park and Lollapalooza have to offer. Buckingham Fountain makes for some great profile pictures. Green Street market supports sustainability and style. We already told you about all the deliciousness that Chow Town has to offer. It's all waiting for you.
Know The Undercard
Love fun? Did you know that guitarist Jack Antonoff's (above) new band Bleachers is playing Lollapalooza this year? Haven't heard of them yet? You will! Every year the festival puts together a great lineup from top to bottom. It doesn't take long for many those bands playing the early afternoon sets to find their way into the headlining slots though. Take a listen to some of the smaller bands playing the festival this year. You might be the one to discover the next big thing!
Don't Miss Out
Sadly, Lollapalooza is completely sold out this year. If you can't make it to Grant Park this August, that doesn't necessarily mean you have to miss all the action. Watch performances live on Youtube all weekend long. Heck, hook up your laptop up to the TV and have a Lolla house party! The fun definitely isn't limited to Grant Park.
Photos Courtesy of: The Arctic Monkeys by Steven Anthony via flickr (CC BY 2.0); Jeni's Ice Cream by Breville USA via flickr (CC BY 2.0); Lollapalooza 2011 by swimfinfan via flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0); Bleachers by Katie Fricker via flickr (CC BY 2.0)