Chicago

Everything You Need to Know to Prepare for Lollapalooza This Year

Must-see acts, festival foods, and everything to know for Lollapalooza this year.

Scott Legato/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Scott Legato/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Scott Legato/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

In Chicago, there really are five seasons: winter, spring, summer, fall, and festival-and Lollapalooza is basically the Christmas of festival season. The city’s biggest and most iconic music festival is back in action next month, with a lineup that looks better than ever.

Taking place once again at Grant Park, on Chicago’s “front lawn” downtown, Lollapalooza 2023 runs August 3 – 6, with multiple ticket options, eats from some of the city’s most renowned restaurants, and music sets from some of the hottest names in music, like Billie Eilish, Kendrick Lamar, Landa del Rey, and a little band called the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Whether you’ve already purchased tickets or you’re still mulling over your festival ‘fit, we’ve got all the details on the epic four-day event, along with essential sets, your burning weed questions, and intel on the afterparty. Put together your party posse and hit the park with our ultimate guide to Lollapalooza 2023.

Shutterstock
Shutterstock
Shutterstock

Where is it happening?

Once again, Lollapalooza will be held in Grant Park, sandwiched between Lake Michigan and the city’s towering downtown skyline. Nine stages will be sprawled south of Millennium Park, typically on and around Ida B. Wells Drive, Michigan Avenue, Monroe Street, and Columbus Drive.

What are the ticket options?

Attendees have lots of ticket options this year, including different tiers for one-day passes, two-day passes, and four-day passes. One-day options include general admission for $135, which grants access to more than 170 performances, food and drinks for purchase, and secured lockers for rent. One-day GA+ goes for $250 and adds unlimited access to two lounges with seating and air-conditioned restrooms, preferred pricing on all drinks, special food items for purchase, expedited festival entry, and a dedicated concierge to assist with all your Lolla needs. Then there’s 1-day VIP, which goes for $550 and includes access to on-field viewing directly behind both the north and south main stages (a new perk this year), plus access to two shaded lounges with air-conditioned restrooms, golf cart transportation between stages, complimentary glitter treatments, and a dedicated premium entrance into the fest. If you’re really feeling extra, the one-day platinum pass for $2,000 grants access to two elite lounges, complimentary all-day dining and drinks, special viewing areas, your own platinum entrance, a special festival gift, and presale access to aftershows.

Two-day passes are only available as general admission for $270, and four-day passes also come in general admission, GA+, VIP, and platinum. Four-day ticket-holders can also upgrade to a cabana package.

Where can I buy tickets?

Tickets are available on the Lollapalooza website.

How do I get there?

Parking anywhere near Grant Park can be a headache, but discounted rates for the festival are available at Millennium Garages-specifically at Millennium Lakeside, Millennium Park and Grant Park North Garages. Better yet, public transit is abundant and easy in the area, with plenty of stops from CTA buses and trains, and the nearby Van Buren Metra stop. All “L” lines stop in the Loop, including stations like Van Buren, Monroe, Adams/Wabash, and Jackson, and buses like 3, 4, 6, 20, 56, 60, 124, 146, 147, 151, and 157 all stop along the park.

What are the must-see acts?

With nearly 200 acts from all over the world descending on nine stages, there’s a lot to see at Lollapalooza this year. From hip-hop and rock to pop, rap, and the dulcet croons of a miss Lana del Rey, here’s a taste of what’s on the docket this year:

Thursday: Performers include Carly Rae Jepson, Sofi Tukker, Portugal. The Man, and Noah Kahan along with headliners Billie Eilish and Karol G.
Friday: Performers include Thirty Seconds to Mars, Subtronics, Foals, and Fred Again… along with headliners Kendrick Lamar and The 1975.
Saturday: Performers include Maggie Rogers, Pusha T, Yung Gravy, and Meduza, along with headliners Odesza and Tomorrow X Together.
Sunday: Performers include Louis the Child, Lil Yachty, Rina Sawayama, and The Backseat Lovers, along with headliners Lana del Rey and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

What are the set times?

Gates open at noon each festival day and most headliners are expected to play around 8:45 pm each night. Check out the detailed line-up and set times for more info.

Ted Alexander Somerville/Shutterstock
Ted Alexander Somerville/Shutterstock
Ted Alexander Somerville/Shutterstock

Can I bring weed?

While Lollapalooza doesn’t explicitly prohibit recreational weed, it’s worth noting that the Chicago Park District does not allow smoking or vaping. Any bag you bring will be subject to search, so be careful about sneaking in edibles too. Here’s a list of other items that are prohibited:

• Weapons of any kind
• Professional cameras or recording equipment
• Outside food
• Large or hard sided coolers
• Pets
• Glass containers of any kind
• Outside alcohol
• Fireworks
• Selfie sticks
• Laser pointers
• Drones or hover cameras
• Chairs

What are the food options?

Chow Town is back this year, offering an extensive roster of street eats across a range of cuisines and styles. While the 2023 slate has yet to be announced, it’s safe to expect some return vendors from recent years, which included Beat Kitchen, Billy Goat Tavern, Broken English Taco Pub, Epic Burger, Gus’s Famous Fried Chicken, Lito’s Empanadas, Pizano’s Pizza, Smoke Daddy, and Wow Bao.

What’s the bathroom situation?

Different tiered tickets allow access to special air-conditioned restrooms for folks with GA+, VIP, and platinum passes, but general admission ticket-goers will have to stick to good ol’ fashioned porta potties.

Where’s the official afterparty?

Lollapalooza aftershows are practically as famed as the festival itself, and this year brings a spree of shows all week long, starting with Carly Rae Jepson at the Metro August 1. Other aftershows include Dope Lemon at Park West August 2, Peach Pit at The Vic August 3, The Garden at Thalia Hall August 4, Meduza at Cermak Hall August 5, and Sylvan Esso at the Metro August 6. All aftershows can be found here.

How is Lollapalooza giving back to the community?

More than lip service, Lollapalooza established the Lollapalooza Arts Education Fund to help Chicago youth earn creative opportunities in music and festival industries. In 2021, a $2.2 million donation went to arts education in Chicago Public Schools with the goal to support more than 100,000 students through 2026. Lolla also partnered with After School Matters to create artistic after-school and summer programs for Chicago teens.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTikTokTwitterFacebookPinterest, and YouTube.

Matt Kirouac is a Thrillist contributor. 

Chicago

Robyn DaCultyre Is Doing It for the Culture

"The cool thing about Ohio is that there is literally a place for everyone."

Photo by Kayode Omoyosi
Photo by Kayode Omoyosi
Photo by Kayode Omoyosi

I was introduced to Robyn DaCultyre at an Untitled Queen show at C’mon Everybody in late January, and it was one of the most unique drag shows I’d seen in a while. Afterwards, I tracked down this self-described “drag creature” and video chatted about her drag origin story, the state of drag in her native Ohio, and the dual identities that make up her persona. Thrillist: I want to ask you about how Robyn DaCultyre came about and your point of view behind your performance.

Robyn DaCultyre: I’ve been travelling around the country from a young age in ministry and Christian studies. I moved to Chicago right after high school. Four years later, moved back to Columbus and decided I didn’t really want to do church anymore; that wasn’t where my heart was.

I had a really low point in my life and had a suicide attempt and then really found drag and started doing drag as a coping mechanism and way to let off steam. I started in July of 2019, and it was really a lot of punk and metal music. I created this drag creature of sorts and they were really out of this world and celestial and all of those fun alien type terms.

And then we went into a global pandemic and I had a lot of time to figure out who I wanted to be. Digitally I was still doing a lot of drag creature-esque numbers and all of that, but I had this moment where we’re on the front lines getting hit with pepper spray and rubber bullets and pepper spray-all of those lovely things. And I said, I have this platform and I need to start showcasing what’s happening.

Untitled [Queen] stepped in at the right time and messaged me and said, “I’m doing this show for Independence Day called Untitled in America with 52 different performers and I want you to be a part of it.” It was at that moment I was able to take the footage I had been recording on the front lines and incorporate it into digital content. I did a song called Black Like Me by Mickey Guyton that talks about white picket fences, but if you want to see how America is, then you should try being Black like me. The imagery of what’s literally happening in Columbus in that digital performance really spearheaded me into focusing on people who look like me.

Nina Simone is one of my biggest inspirations, and one of her quotes that resonates with me is that it’s the duty of the artist to resonate with the times. My art is politically charged. I like to entertain, but there will definitely be a time when you come to a show expecting to have your drink and be chill and that might not be the case.

How did the name Robyn DaCultyre come about?

I was smoking with Ursula Major, who was on season one of Dragula, and the first time I introduced myself to her I was Robyn Banks, which is my drag name originally. She said, “Well, do you just not want to be original at all?” [Laughs] And I sat with that for a couple of months, and I got really stoned one day and was listening to Janelle Monae, and she talks about doing it for the culture, and I said “I do it for the culture, too!” And the rest is history.

And you started a series called Melanated.

We started Melanated last February. I told the idea to my show director that there were no shows specifically run by Black people that only featured Black entertainers. I wanted to do this show for a night and she said, Why don’t we do it once a week for the whole month? The first show happens, and it’s a sold out crowd, and [my director] comes back and says we should do this every month. So I sucked it up and here we are a year later.

Melanated is the only fully Black show in all of the state. It’s a horrible marketing tool and not something I want to promote, but it is just a fact. It amazes me that we are the 13th largest city in America and there’s nothing here that’s fully focused on Black entertainers. The name also comes from Janelle Monae; she says she’s highly melanated and I said, that works.

Photos by Chay Creates LLC (left) and Bridget Caswell (right)
Photos by Chay Creates LLC (left) and Bridget Caswell (right)
Photos by Chay Creates LLC (left) and Bridget Caswell (right)

You refer to yourself as a drag creature, as opposed to drag queen or king…

This is actually the first time I’m making this public. I am in this place where I want to separate the alternative creature from who this melanated goddess or whatever is. DaCultyre is definitely the person who runs Melanated and then Robyn is this drag creature that is out of this world and really loves punk and alternative music. And both intertwine to make Robyn DaCultyre.

You also do pageants. Tell me about that.

In 2020 I was appointed by Nina West, who is from Columbus, as the representative from Ohio for National Entertainer of the Year in Louisville, Kentucky. I placed ninth out of 13 contestants and I really fell in love with the system and fell in love with the pageantry and loved the idea of reigning and being different. I want to show that we as alternative performers, as bearded performers, you can come into these systems and shake things up.

Is there a uniquely “Ohio” style of drag?

No, and I think that’s one of the things that makes it so amazing is that everyone has their own unique style, and it’s all pretty much accepted. I started as a performer and a drag creature and there was space that was afforded to me and I transitioned to more glamor and pageantry and that’s afforded to me as well. I’ve been a bearded entertainer for a year now. The cool thing about Ohio is that there is literally a place for everyone.

I think I have everything I need. Is there anything else I didn’t ask you about that you want to bring up, or…

I don’t think so. Are there any generic questions you haven’t asked?

Generic questions…I think I asked all of them already [laughs]. I like to ask what you’d be doing if you weren’t doing drag?

It’s a great question. I have a day job that is very demanding so I need drag to get away. I’m also very creative and artistic. I used to do web design and all these other things to pull into my creativity. Drag is the longest thing I’ve stuck with in all parts of my life, so I don’t think it’s going anywhere anytime soon.

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John deBary is a drinks expert and writer. His first cocktail book, Drink What You Want, is available now, and his next book, Saved by the Bellini, is expected in early 2023. He is also the co-founder and president of the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the lives of hospitality industry professionals through advocacy, grant making, and impact investing.

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