Lollapalooza is one of the most iconic music festivals in the world, bringing hundreds of thousands of music lovers to Chicago’s Grant Park every summer. While many attendees come just for the daytime shows, the option to camp right at the festival grounds allows you to get the complete Lollapalooza experience. But can you actually camp at Lollapalooza, and what’s it like? This in-depth guide will give you the full lowdown on camping at Lolla.
A Brief History of Lollapalooza
Lollapalooza began in 1991 as a touring music festival created by Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell. The festival toured around the U.S. and Canada, featuring alternative rock, heavy metal, punk rock, hip hop, and more. By 1997, the festival went on hiatus, but was revived in 2003 as a single destination festival held annually at Grant Park in Chicago.
Over the years, Lollapalooza has evolved into one of the premiere global music festivals, expanding to feature pop, EDM, and hip hop alongside rock. Today, Lollapalooza draws around 400,000 attendees over 4 days every summer.
When Did Lollapalooza Start Offering Camping?
In 2012, Lollapalooza organizers announced the addition of on-site camping at the festival for the first time ever, allowing attendees to stay right in Grant Park. This camping has continued ever since, allowing fest-goers to get the complete Lollapalooza weekend experience without leaving the grounds.
What Are the Camping Options at Lollapalooza?
There are a few different camping packages available for Lollapalooza attendees:
- 4-Day General Admission Camping: This gets you a plot of land to set up your own tent and camp out for all 4 days of the festival. These are located in predetermined spots within Grant Park.
- Lolla Cottages: These are 1-room cottage tents set up on the grounds that include air mattresses. They accommodate 2 people for all 4 festival days.
- Glamping: The most luxurious option, glamping tents include amenities like real beds, ceiling fans, furniture, and more. They accommodate 2-4 people.
- Lake Shore Campgrounds: Off-site campgrounds along Lake Michigan with shuttle service to Grant Park. More affordable but further away.
What’s Included in Lollapalooza Camping Packages?
Lollapalooza aims to make camping as convenient as possible for fest-goers. Here’s what you can expect:
- For All Campers: Access to free showers and restrooms in the campgrounds area, bag check near the campgrounds so you don’t have to haul stuff around all day, charging stations for phones, and 24 hour security staff.
- Lolla Cottages and Glamping: These packages include the furnished tent itself, daily bottle water and breakfast vouchers to use at designated areas in the park, and access to concierge services. Lolla Cottages get air mattresses while Glamping gets real beds.
- Lake Shore Campgrounds: Complimentary breakfast, access to flushable restrooms and free showers, general store, and bike rentals are provided at these off-site campgrounds. The separate fee gets you roundtrip shuttles between the campgrounds and Grant Park.
What Should I Bring for Camping?
Lollapalooza allows pretty much anything you need for camping in the festival grounds. Recommended items include:
- Tent, sleeping bags, pillows, and pads if doing General Admission camping
- Portable phone chargers
- Toiletries like sunscreen, toothbrush, etc.
- Ear plugs for sleeping through loud nights
- Camping chairs, blankets, towels
- Rain gear if the weather calls for it
- Snacks and non-alcoholic beverages (no outside alcohol allowed)
- Empty water bottle since water refill stations are provided
- Cash for food vendors, lockers, and the general store
Prohibited items include drugs, weapons, glass bottles, unauthorized alcohol, open flames, and anything that could be dangerous or disruptive.
Expect when camping at Lollapalooza
Here is a table with information on what to expect when camping at Lollapalooza:
|What to Expect
|Bring tent, sleeping bags, portable stove, chairs, lanterns, etc.
|Pack sunscreen, hats, insect repellent, first-aid supplies, medications, etc.
|Bring non-perishable snacks, reusable water bottle, cooler with ice, easy meals you can make on a portable stove
|No open fires allowed; noise restrictions during quiet hours
|Weapons, illegal substances, glass containers not allowed
|Expect bag checks at entry; medical services available on-site
What is Security Like for Campers?
Lollapalooza takes safety and security very seriously, even in the campgrounds. Security staff patrol the campgrounds 24/7. To get in and out of the grounds, you’ll have to show your festival wristband. Random bag checks may occur when entering the campgrounds.
Once inside, there are no searches of individual tents by security unless there is probable cause. They mostly just ensure there is no dangerous or illegal activity occurring. Noise must be kept to a reasonable level in the campgrounds especially late at night.
What Amenities Are Available in the Campgrounds?
Considering space constraints, there’s a surprising number of amenities in the Lollapalooza campgrounds:
- Food Vendors: Grab a bite from food trucks and stands set up right in the campgrounds so you don’t have to trek to the main festival.
- General Store: Pick up camping necessities like batteries, sunscreen, ice, and more.
- Showers and Restrooms: Free flushing toilets and showers are provided with soap and TP. There may be lines during peak times.
- Phone Charging: Stations are available to power up your dead phone battery. Bring your own cords.
- Water: Free water bottle refill stations are found around the campgrounds so you can stay hydrated.
- Activities: Mini entertainment like yoga classes, live acoustic sets, and games may pop up within the campgrounds.
- Lockers: Stash your valuables and extras in lockers available to rent near the campgrounds.
What is the Camping Experience Like?
Camping at Lollapalooza lets you get the complete festival experience without all the transportation hassles. You can easily go back to your tent anytime to chill out and recharge. The campgrounds have a really fun, community vibe with campers hanging out together and pre-partying before heading into the festival each day. Basically, it’s a 24/7 party!
However, with up to 20,000 campers, the campgrounds can get loud, crowded, muddy if it rains, and potentially chaotic. Tents are packed closely together. You’ll want to bring earplugs for sleeping. There are also no electrical outlets available, so you’ll need battery-powered everything.
Is Camping Worth It for Lollapalooza?
For many Lollapalooza attendees, camping is viewed as an essential part of the full experience. It lets you easily move between the campgrounds and festival without dealing with transit or hotels. The community atmosphere and fun campground amenities create a second experience beyond just the concerts.
However, camping is not necessarily clean or glamorous. The crowded campgrounds and shared restroom facilities can be an adjustment too. If you really enjoy being immersed in a festival for days on end and don’t mind roughing it a bit, Lollapalooza camping is likely worth it! But weigh the costs and amenities against your personal preferences.
How Much Does Camping Cost for Lollapalooza?
Camping is an additional fee beyond your festival pass. Here’s how Lollapalooza camping costs break down:
- GA Camping: $225 per 4-day plot
- Lolla Cottages: $1200 per 4-day cottage (2 person occupancy)
- Glamping: $2500 per 4-day tent (2 person), $3600 (3 person), $4600 (4 person)
- Lake Shore Campgrounds: Approximately $50 per night, plus $19 roundtrip shuttle fee
So you’re looking at $450+ for the full Lollapalooza and camping experience per person. Costs vary based on the amenities and occupancy of the different camping options.
How long can you camp at lollapalooza?
You can camp at Lollapalooza from 9AM on the first day of the festival (Thursday) until 12PM on the Monday after the festival ends. So the total camping duration is 4 nights – from Thursday morning through Monday late morning.
How Early Can You Arrive for Camping?
Campers cannot arrive earlier than 9AM on the first day of Lollapalooza, which is always Thursday. You can set up your tent any time after that first morning. The campgrounds remain open through 12PM on the Monday after the festival ends.
Lake Shore campgrounds follow a slightly different schedule with Wednesday arrival. The shuttles to Grant Park begin running Thursday morning.
If you want to arrive in Chicago earlier than when camping opens, you’ll need to make separate accommodations for those extra nights.
Pros and Cons Of Camping
Here is a rewritten summary of the pros and cons of camping at Lollapalooza:
- Total immersion in the festival experience from start to finish, with easy access to shows
- Bonding with fellow campers and music lovers in the lively atmosphere
- Being steps away from the action all weekend
- Not dealing with transportation to/from the festival each day
- Having your own camp base within the festival grounds
- Noisy, crowded campgrounds can be chaotic
- Tents and camp amenities less comfortable than a hotel
- Exposure to unpredictable weather like rain or heat/humidity
- Lack of privacy and personal space
- Keeping belongings secure from potential theft
Are Campsites Assigned or Can You Pick Your Spot?
For the main Grant Park campgrounds, no campsites can be reserved in advance. These areas are first come, first served. You’ll be directed to available areas upon arrival, with staff trying to keep friends/groups together as much as possible.
Lake Shore campgrounds must be reserved ahead of time, allowing you to select a designated individual site. These spots with electrical hookups are ideal for RVs and campers needing more amenities.
Within the GA camping areas, you can pick your own specific spot upon entering, so try to arrive early on Thursday morning for the best selection. It fills up quickly! Scope out shade trees or paths if possible.
Tips for a More Enjoyable Camping Experience
Here are some pro tips for making your Lollapalooza camping experience smooth and comfortable:
- Bring a shade canopy and chairs to create a “base camp” for your tent
- Use a wagon to haul your stuff if camping in GA areas
- Bring some decorations like battery-powered string lights to make your camp vibrant
- Bring twice as much food, water, and other supplies as you think you’ll need
- Make friends with your neighbors! You’re all in it together
- Use earplugs, sleep masks, and other aids to sleep through late night noise
- Take advantage of campground amenities like showers early/late to avoid long lines
- Stay hydrated and lather on the sunscreen every day
- Carry cash for food vendors, activities, lockers, and the general store
- Store valuables in rental lockers if concerned about tent security
What is the minimum age to camp?
All minor campers under 18 must be accompanied by an adult 21 or older.
Can I bring alcohol to the campgrounds?
No outside alcohol is allowed. Drinks must be purchased inside the fest.
Is camping safe?
24/7 security staff patrol the grounds. Campers should always practice good judgment. Do not leave valuables unattended in tents.
Can I leave the campgrounds and come back?
Yes, you can come and go anytime with your wristband. Re-entry is subject to search.
Are campgrounds open during non-festival hours?
Yes, you have access to campgrounds all day and night from Thursday morning through Monday morning.
Are tents provided in General Admission areas?
No, you must bring your own tent and set it up in GA camping. Cottages and Glamping include their own tents.
Can I camp with a group?
Yes! Try to arrive together to get group campsites. Max of 4 people per GA camping plot.
Are showers and restrooms open 24/7?
Yes, amenities are open all day and night in the campgrounds. Be aware lines can form during peak times.
Can I have a campfire or grill?
No fires or grills are allowed due to space constraints and safety. You cannot cook at campsites.
Experience the Magic of Lollapalooza Camping
Camping at Lollapalooza lets you be part of the action morning, noon, and night. While not as plush as a hotel, camping allows you to fully immerse yourself in one of music’s most iconic festivals. With a little prep and smart camping practices, you can make campgrounds at Lollapalooza a fun and comfortable home base for your weekend. Be sure to consider all the costs, amenities, and planning needed to decide if roughing it is right for you. From late night jam sessions to community camp vibes, Lolla camping is the heart and soul of the true festival experience.