Although at 20 years old this August, Lollapalooza might be a little long in the tooth by the youth obsessed standards of pop culture, the alternative music and culture festival has beaten the odds to remain distinctly relevant. This year, Lolla once again returns to its permanent-since-2005 home at Chicago’s Grant Park, Aug. 5-7.
With performers scheduled such as Eminem, Foo Fighters, Coldplay, Muse and dozens of other cutting edge acts, the gaze of the music world will once again focus on Lolla, which some younger fans might not even remember started out as a farewell tour designed by festival founder Perry Farrell for his famed band, Jane’s Addiction.
Lolla made Chicago its annual host site in 2005 and while the fest might have lost some of its traveling caravan-carnie feel, it’s compensated with better productions and huge crowds. The influx of concert-goers inundates the area around Grant Park, which happens to include a host of hotels, restaurants, bars and attractions – and most Lolla-tourists opt to stay in the area.
Chicago offers all of those things the nation’s great cities do, but despite solid public transportation, many attractions and scenic areas are widely dispersed. Fortunately for those visiting for Lolla, there is much to see and do within minutes of downtown.
To balance sonic rage with more pensive culture, The Art Institute of Chicago (www.artic.edu) and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (www.mcachicago.org) offer some of the world’s great exhibits and the Adler Planetarium (www.adlerplanetarium.org/) features a diverse program lineup. The city itself is the art to be examined on the tours offered by the Chicago Architecture Foundation (http://caf.architecture.org) and by the exhibits and collections at the Chicago History Museum (www.chicagohistory.org).
Grabbing a pass for the city’s trolleys and double-decker buses (www.coachusa.com/chicagotrolley/) is a great way to travel around Chicago, where many visitors also enjoy seeing The Museum of Science and Industry (www.msichicago.org), the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere and the Shedd Aquarium (www.sheddaquarium.org) among countless other interesting sites.
While Chicago is a terrific diverse dining city, it is still the Chicago-style hot dog and Chicago-style pizza with which many people identify it. Thankfully there are ample purveyors of both downtown including some operating into the wee hours when the Lolla action breaks.
There is no shortage of accommodations in Chicago, but given the Lollapalooza schedule, it’s a good idea to stay near the venue, and here are a few options worth considering.
Dana Hotel & Spa: Personalized service blends with modern technology and luxurious furnishings at this 216-room boutique hotel and spa. www.danahotelandspa.com
Hard Rock Hotel Chicago: The 381 guest rooms at this renovated Art Deco hotel offer sweeping views of the Chicago cityscape, and 24-hour room service is available to boot. www.hardrockhotelchicago.com
Ritz-Carlton Chicago: All 434 guest rooms and suites feature extra large picture windows with outstanding urban views and this Four Seasons Hotel provides all of the amenities and the quality service one would expect at a Ritz-Carlton. www.fourseasons.com/chicagorc
Schedule: Friday, Aug. 5 – Sunday, Aug. 7
Location: Chicago, Ill.
Venue: Grant Park, 337 E. Randolph St. Often referred to as Chicago’s “front yard,” Grant Park is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city.
Getting there: The easiest way to get to Grant Park is via Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) bus or train (www.transitchicago.com). By taxi, get dropped off on Michigan Avenue at Congress, then head over to the box office and into the Lollapalooza entrance right in front of Grant Park’s Buckingham Fountain.
Lineup: Lollapalooza features one of the most diverse bills on the festival circuit, including the biggest names of the day, veteran revivals and up-and-comers. This year’s headliners include Eminem, Coldplay, Foo Fighters, Muse, My Morning Jacket, Deadmau5 and The Perfect Circle.
Ticket prices: $90 single-day pass; $215 regular three-day pass; $850 VIP three-day passes (Limited availability and ticket prices subject to change)
Info and tickets: www.lollapalooza.com
Eat: No trip to Chicago is complete without sampling the world-class stylings of authentic Mexican cuisine created by Oklahoma native chef Rick Bayless at his Chicago eateries. www.fronterakitchens.com
Visit: Lincoln Park Zoo’s Regenstein Center for African Apes is unlike any facility of its type in the nation and is well worth a look-see. www.lpzoo.org
See: Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) might not be the tallest building in the world anymore, but it does still have the highest observation deck, with spectacular and dizzying views.