You’ve probably heard of Lollapalooza, an annual music festival featuring popular alternative rock, punk, heavy metal, hip hop and electronic music bands. The festival has provided a platform for non-profit and political groups, as well as both popular and underground visual and musical artists alike to showcase their work. The event itself started in 1991 and has counted France, Chile, Germany & Brazil amongst its list of host countries, though the Chicago festival is indisputably the best of these. Chicago has been hosting Lollapalooza since 2005, and attracts over 160,000 people during the now four-day affair.
This year, Lollapalooza takes place from August 3-6 at Grant Park, and features a star-studded lineup headed by Chicago’s own (and three-time Grammy winner) Chance the Rapper, American rock band The Killers, Muse, Arcade Fire, The XX, Lorde, Blink 182, and so many more. The full musical lineup and schedule can be viewed on Lollapalooza’s website or app.
Because dancing around to your favorite bands can work up quite the appetite, Lollapalooza has Chow Town, its food vendor area. Chow Town showcases some of Chicago’s best restaurants, curated by celebrity chef Graham Elliot.
Lollapalooza doesn’t want anyone to feel excluded, so they offer many different delicious options that include vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free dishes. Concessionaires include Billy Goat Tavern, Cheesie’s Pub & Grub, Dark Matter Coffee, Leghorn Chicken, Tank Noodle, and crowd favorite Kuma’s Corner. Some of these food vendors allow cashless transactions (through the use of a Lollapalooza wristband connected to your credit card), but it doesn’t hurt to bring extra cash money along just in case.
Chow Town is the most accessible food option for festival-goers, so expect a line and slightly overpriced food. Festival rules also state that you cannot sneak in alcoholic beverages (the security people will more than likely thwart any attempts), and buying beer inside the venue can certainly run up a tab! VIP and Platinum ticket-holders do get catered meals and drinks, but General Admissions tickets don't.
If you want to cut down your food and drink costs during the festival, you’ll be happy to realize that there are several nearby bars and restaurants you can duck into to grab a bite before or after the day’s ended, or in between the acts you want to see.
Here are some of the best cheap eats nearby Lollapalooza:
1. Devil Dawgs (767 S State St) serves up some fast-casual hot dog and burger meals starting at $3, and is open til 3am from Thursday to Saturday.
2. Mr. Greeks (234 S Halsted St) is everyone’s go-to for gyros in Greektown after a night of drinking. They used to be open 24/7, but opening hours have changed, so check ahead of time.
3. Heaven on Seven (111 N Wabash Ave) is located a few blocks away from Lollapalooza, but makes you feel like you're still at the party in Grant Park with their festive ambience and New Orleans-style cooking.
4. Hot Woks Cool Sushi (30 S Michigan Ave) is just right up the street from the festival and serves Japanese and Thai dishes.
5. Oasis Cafe (21 N Wabash Ave) is one of the best kept secrets in the Loop, serving some of the best falafel in Chicago.
Just be sure to use your trips in and out of the festival wisely. Lollapalooza’s FAQ states that: “Wristbands must be scanned upon exit at the gate in order to re-enter that same day, maximum of 3 ins & outs/day.”
Many first-time visitors to Chicago would probably enjoy a tour of the city to see what it can offer. There are several free attractions nearby that you can check out when you’re not busy checking out a band (or if you plan on avoiding Lollapalooza entirely!):
1. Chicago Cultural Center (77 E Randolph St) hosts several free programs year-round, usually dance performances, film screenings and theatre events. Check the website for a complete schedule of activities.
2. Lurie Garden (E Monroe Street & Columbus Dr). Located at the southeast end of Millennium Park (201 E. Randolph St), Lurie Garden is a great place to stop by for nature-lovers. Whether it’s renting out Divvy bikes to explore the lakeside view or enjoying this green oasis amid the urban jungle, the garden has something for everyone.
3. Museum of Contemporary Photography (600 S Michigan Ave). One of the few museums focused completely on photography, this place is worth a visit for both photography enthusiasts. As an added bonus, admission is free!
Lollapalooza tickets can get quite expensive ($120 for a one-day general admission ticket, and up to $ 4,200 for the four-day platinum ticket). Even if you can afford the cost of entry, General Admission tickets, which are the most affordable option, always sell out fast.
Lollapalooza after shows are a great way to see your favorite bands while they’re in town for the main event, but at a lower price. However, since tickets come cheap (as low as $35), after shows also sell out quickly.
Although the festival date draws near, popular acts, including Tegan and Sara, and Migos, still have tickets available (as of this writing). As a last resort for sold out shows, you can enter contests on the Lollapalooza website to win tickets or check the schedule of remaining Lollapalooza after shows with tickets still available.
Are you excited for Lollapalooza this year? What will you be doing to keep your costs down during the festival? Tweet your tips at @ChooseChicago and we’ll share our favorites!