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The Ultimate Lollapalooza 2015 Survival Guide

The dos, don’ts, and pro tips for navigating this weekend’s monster music festival.

Embracing the inevitable at Lolla 2014.   Photo: Joshua Mellin

If you thought you were good at music festivals, think again: Lollapalooza is here to indiscriminately kick all of our butts. With 140 bands spread across 115 acres and 100,000 fans a day, the event is far and away Chicago’s least manageable festival. Whether it’s an evacuation or a no-show, something will go wrong. Keep your headaches unavoidable with this guide to the T. rex of music fests.

So. Where is Lolla?

Grant Park, of course: 337 E. Randolph, with a main gate on Michigan Ave. between Jackson and Balbo and another at Monroe & Columbus. The box office, guest list, and will call booth is on the northeast corner of Michigan and Van Buren, and is open Wednesday and Thursday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

When is Lolla?

This Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

How should I get there?

Take the Brown, Pink, Green, Orange, or Purple lines to Adams & Wabash, the Red Line to Monroe & State, or the Blue line to Dearborn & State. The CTA hasn’t posted bus reroutes yet (check back Friday), but last year the #2, #6, #7, #10, #J14, #26, #126, #142, and #147 were all rerouted around Grant Park.

For cyclists, there’s bike parking at the main gate and about a hundred Divvy stations within walking distance of the park. Bike and Roll Chicago is also offering 65% off bike rentals from the McDonald’s Cycle Center (239 E. Randolph), which, if you’ve ever shared a train with a hundred drunk Lollapaloozers, you know you should take them up on.

Driving is also a thing. There are three fully accessible parking garages near Grant Park (the Millennium Park Garage on Columbus between Monroe & Randolph, the East Monroe Underground Garage at Monroe & Columbus, and the Grant Park Underground Garage’s Michigan & Madison and Michigan & Randolph entrances). Prepaid parking at Soldier Field’s North Garage is also currently open, as are a handful of discounted spaces from SpotHero.

What can I bring to the festival?

In addition to your party pants, all of this:

  • A “school sized” backpack, satchel, purse, or fanny pack
  • Blankets, sheets, towels
  • Handheld umbrellas (no bigger than 42” opened)
  • Strollers
  • Empty CamelBaks, canteens, and plastic/aluminum water bottles
  • Two sealed bottles of water
  • Non-professional cameras and recorders
  • Binoculars (not an illegitimate concern)
  • Non-professional walkie-talkies. (Don’t discount this, as cell service will be terrible.)

Got it. What can’t I bring?

Plenty:

  • Framed hiking backpacks
  • Aerosol cans (double-check your sunscreen bottle)
  • Glass or metal containers of any kind
  • Tents, canopies, shade structures
  • Chairs of any kind
  • Skateboards, scooters, bikes, wagons, carts, personal motorized vehicles
  • Professional photo, video, and audio equipment
  • GoPro attachments (sticks, monopods)
  • Professional walkie-talkies (CPD needs those radiowaves)
  • Weapons, fireworks, explosives
  • Pets (except service animals)
  • Outside food and beverages (other than your sealed bottles of water)
  • Drugs
  • Promotional handbills, flyers, stickers, beach balls, give-aways, samples, solicitations, samizdats, etc. The vendor deadline has passed.
  • New this year: coolers of any kind (except for medical use)
  • New this year: selfie sticks
  • New this year: drones (seriously). (Somebody got in trouble for this.)
  • New this year: hammocks
  • New this year: large chains or spiked jewelry

Will there be lockers?

Yes, of the 11"x13.5"x18” denomination, and with unlimited cell phone charging. Reserve one for $15/day or $40/weekend here (weekend renters can store stuff overnight).

What if I lose something?

The lost and found is in the info tent at Columbus & Congress.

Got any pro tips?

Duh:

  • Do drink a lot of water and carbo-load freely. It’s going to be 90° all weekend, and the two main stages are separated by nearly a mile.
  • Don’t be obnoxious on your way to and from the festival; people do actually live in the Loop.
  • Do bring your own TP (some portajohns will run out).
  • Don’t litter, especially outside the park.
  • Do bring a raincoat and do stick your phone in a Ziploc baggie. It’s supposed to storm Sunday.
  • Don’t lock your bike to anybody’s property—there will be parking at the main gate.
  • Do hit an ATM before the festival.
  • Don’t post flyers around Grant Park.
  • Do follow Chicago magazine staff on Twitter for updates and witticisms: @carrieschedler, @ChicagoMag, @Elly33, @mattypollock, @TomiObaro.
  • That said, don’t rely on your phone; data will clog by mid-afternoon daily. Set a meeting spot with your friends.
  • Do download Lolla’s digital schedule. Then take a screenshot on your phone and set it as your lock screen. Again, you probably won’t be able to access Internet at the festival
  • Don’t jump between sets too much. At Lolla especially, you’ll end up too far back to hear a band’s proper mix (let alone see them). For $100-plus a day, you owe it to yourself to stand in line with the sound booth.
  • Do leave the festival all together, if you want; pass holders are allowed re-entry three times a day.

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