Lollapalooza is officially a family tradition for us. You read that right…FAMILY tradition. This is the fourth year (in a row) that we’ve attended and keeps getting better and better. From the outside, the festival may be viewed as a big, loud party with crowds of young people at every stage, especially when some are scantily dressed. Well, this may be the case in the evenings, depending what evening you attend. But from the inside, the festival uses Grant Park to showcase the beauty of Chicago. We went on a Saturday this year and noticed so many more families there, not only families with young kids but we saw parents and their teenagers hang out together during the early hours of the festival.
One of the main reasons we make Lollapalooza a summer family event is Kidzapalooza! For one thing, kids under 10 get in for free with an adult ticket! It’s like “a festival within a festival” because Luke got to enjoy the activities and we got to enjoy watching him and listening to live music on a real stage. The types of activities there are getting better and better every year. Last year was the first year that The Land of Nod set up a play area for kids with teepees and all, which was a great addition. They returned this year with more teepees and a camper tent for kids. Some of Luke’s favorites this year was getting his hair styled into a mohawk by Snippets Mini Cuts and colored, painting on the wall, getting a personalized tote by Psycho Baby, and getting a tattoo. Luke was totally rocking it in the Kidzapalooza play area!
The Kidzapalooza area is quite large and plenty of room for kids to run around. It doesn’t get very crowded (which I love). I think Lollapalooza does a great job with the artists who perform on Kidzapalooza stage. Our favorite artists are the Q Brothers (great improv rappinng skills) and School of Rock (interactive and they really get the kids into the music). Finally, the music from the stage is not too loud so there’s less worrying about your kid’s eardrums.
FOOD – CHOW TOWN
There are plenty of vendors (mostly local) to choose from. Most all are lined up on Columbus Drive or what is called “Chow Town.” Some of our favorites were the crack pie from momofuku, lobster corndog by Graham Elliott, ice cream by Rainbow Cone, baos by Wow Bao (perfect snack for toddlers), and the Uncorked Wine Lounge where I got a cocktail pop.
As a tip, if your toddler likes cheeseburgers (as much as Luke does), there’s a vendor very close to the Kidzapalooza stage (one of the buildings on the grounds of Buckingham Fountain) that makes and sells great cheeseburgers. You don’t have to walk far.
I wish I would’ve taken more food photos to share but unfortunately, we devoured them before thinking about pictures. That’s living (eating) in the moment, right?
We made Lollapalooza a full day event, meaning we took Luke there during the first half of the day, then got a babysitter for the evening so we could see the Red Hot Chili Peppers at night. To be honest, I don’t think bringing a toddler to Lollapalooza in the evening is a good idea. Just trust me on that. Although it made for a long day, Charlie and I had a great time watching and singing to RHCP songs without worrying about Luke not enjoying it, which I don’t think he would since there was nowhere for him to run.
TIPS FOR MAKING THE FESTIVAL AN ENJOYABLE FAMILY EXPERIENCE
Purchasing Tickets – Tickets go on sale in March and sell out within a few hours or so. So mark your calendar and be ready to wait in a long digital queue on the day tickets go on sale as there are probably thousands of other people who are online at the same time. I normally try to log in a few minutes before the official time. Somehow that has helped or maybe it’s been just luck?
When To Get There – I recommend getting there when the gates open and entering from the Monroe entrance. The lines and crowds are smaller. By arriving this early, you have Grant Park all to yourself (for a little while). It gives your kiddo a chance to run around (especially Buckingham Fountain) without the heavy foot traffic and more opportunities for photo opps (with less chances of someone walking by as you snap a picture or two).
Tag Your Kid – There is both in front of the Kidzapalooza stage called “Tag-A-Kid” where parents can register their children with the festival. Your child will receive a wristband which helps locate your child, if your child ever gets lost.
What To Wear – Comfort is key, especially shoes. Sunscreen. Unless you’re 19, I don’t suggest wearing cut-off mom jeans and a half shirt.
Where To Go Potty – There are tons of port-a-potties around the park. And they are “clean” by my port-a-potty standards as they seem to be surfaced on a regular basis. For kids still in diapers, there is a changing station or mother’s area in the Kidzapalooza area.
What To Bring
- A Stroller – Even if your child may be a little too big for a stroller or may not like the stroller, I recommend bringing one, just in case. Grant Park is big. There will be a lot of walking. Sometimes little feet get tired or Luke decides to take nap. The stroller has been a lifesaver or in our case – armsavers.
- An Umbrella – Weather can be unpredictable and chances of rain showers in early August or during Lollapalooza are fairly high. We’ve been caught in a few rain storms.
- An Empty Bottle – Staying hydrated is key, especially for a rambunctious toddler. Fill the bottle at a water station for those necessary water emergencies.
- Headphones – We don’t stay in the Kidzapalooza area the whole day. But we try to venture out to see different music acts on different stages. The volume at some of the stages can get loud. I always feel better knowing Luke has headphones on.
Walk Around and Discover New Artists – We tend to stay way from the main stages during the day as it can get quite crowded and hard to maneuver through with a toddler. But we do try to check out the smaller stages to discover new music and bands. So take a leisurely walk around if you don’t have an agenda or bands to see. Also, Lollapalooza offers so many great experiences or things to see (that are provided by the festival’s sponsors) around the park. So check them out before leaving.