Break out the neon. Start backlogging water. Take Monday off work. Pitchfork Fest is nigh, and it’s time to start prepping. With more than 40 bands squeezed into two-dozen hours of festival this year, you better be ready. Here's what you need to know. 


The Basics

Where: Pitchfork Festival is at Union Park, 1501 W. Randolph. The main festival gates are at Ashland and Maypole (A), and there’s a smaller gate where Washington Blvd. dead-ends at Randolph & Ogden (B, probably a with a shorter line).

When: Gates open at 3 p.m. on Friday and noon on Saturday and Sunday.

Getting There

Trains: The nearest L stop is at Ashland & Lake, with service from the Green and Pink lines. Both trains stop running around 1 a.m., so if you’re going after party–hopping, plan to take a cab.

Buses: If you’re coming from the North or South, the #9 Ashland is your best bet. East or West, take the #20 Madison. Both routes run all night.

Cycling: Pitchfork offers ample bike parking, with a valet lot at the southeast corner of Ashland & Lake (C). No drinking and cycling!

Driving: If you want to drive to Pitchfork, that’s your prerogative, but expect traffic and parking to be an absolute nightmare.

What You Can Bring

  • A medium-sized backpack, satchel, or fanny pack. Or, if that’s not your bag (!), you can pre-rent a locker here ($15 a day or $40 for the weekend).
  • Two sealed bottles of water
  • Non-professional cameras
  • Hats and sunglasses
  • Sun block
  • Cigarettes and lighters
  • Folding chairs (not lounge chairs)

What You Can’t Bring

  • A tent (this ain’t Bonnaroo)
  • Flags.
  • Professional cameras (nothing with detachable lenses)
  • Video or audio recording devices (your phone is fine)
  • Lounge chairs
  • An instrument (as if Pitchfork needs another Band You’ve Probably Never Heard Of)
  • Weapons
  • Pets
  • Food
  • Beverages (other than your sealed bottles of water)
  • Drugs and drug paraphernalia

Dos and Don’ts

  • Do drink an obscene amount of water at the festival.
  • Don’t leave the festival with plans to return later in the day—there’s no re-entry.
  • Do eat before the festival, and at least once during the day. One $8 corndog a summer won’t kill you, but heat exhaustion might!
  • Don’t make a scene on your way to or from the festival.
  • Do bring your own TP.
  • Don’t litter!
  • Do bring a small umbrella, shell, or poncho.
  • Don’t lock your bike to somebody’s property.
  • Do hit an ATM before the festival—anything inside will likely have fees.
  • Don’t post flyers around Union Park. The Department of Streets and Sanitation will be ticketing perps at $250 per flyer, which is a good way to put your open mic in the red pretty quickly.
  • Do follow us on Twitter for updates and witticisms: @ChicagoMag, @Elly33, @mattypollock, @TomiObaro.
  • That said, don’t count on your phone to work. Data is usually clogged by 4 p.m. daily, so set a meeting spot with your pals.

Planning on Losing Something?

The Pitchfork Festival Lost and Found will be in the will call trailer on Ashland, and you can retrieve your effects for up to a week after the festival at Union Park.

Miscellaneous Pro Tips:

  • If you want to get close to the stage for a certain band’s set, show up early. S/he who watches 15 minutes of Kelela and stops for a beer on the way to the last fifteen minutes of Danny Brown effectively enjoys only the beer.
  • Once you finish your two sealed bottles of water (which you should, early!), throw the empties in your bag and fill them up later.
  • Follow your favorite Pitchfork bands on Twitter—you might just catch a secret show.
  • If you’re one of the brave souls driving to the festival, leave a gallon of water in your backseat for afterward. You’ll be grateful for it.