Kidzapalooza Your Lollapalooza with Fun for All Ages

Moms, dads, grandparents, and godparents: Are you looking for a special occasion to dedicate to some one-on-one bonding time with your kid? Check out our series of hip happenings that will give the two of you secrets to share and a ritual to return to year after year.

Ready for a festival jam-packed with great music, steeped in a hipster vibe and located in the heart of the Second City (no camping required!)? New sounds and cool bands abound all around Grant Park at Chicago’s Lollapalooza (August 3-6, 2017). The annual festival offers cultural experiences, great food, giveaways, goodies, and green shopping that’s fun for everyone.

Check out the safer, kid-friendly music and environment of Kidzapalooza, the enclosed area for families with younger kids; take your older kids to one of the main stages and stay until midnight. Walk away with a load of new experiences and great memories for a lifetime – or, at least until you go back next year!

Before You Lolla

The annual four-day weekend starts with tickets! The festival draws nearly 300,000 people annually, so make plans for attending well in advance. Kids 10 and under are free, so if you’re taking your small fry you’ll only have to worry about your own ticket.

Purchase a single-day entry or a four-day pass to see the whole festival. Your kid’s energy level and whether or not you want to take time to explore Chicago will inform your decision. Since the outdoor Grant Park fest is on the waterfront in Downtown Chicago, a one-day pass might be sufficient and give you time to play in the water or explore the city, too.

Check out the bands and stages where you’re thinking of attending before you go. Listening with your kid ahead of time will get you both primed to hear the music and make it more special when you see the band live. If Kidza is your final destination, you probably won’t need ear plugs for your kid (volume levels are pretty moderate). But if you’re planning to go to one of the main stages and get up close and personal, ear plugs are a must.

Other kid-friendly, parent-approved packing advice? Take a blanket to put on the ground and provide some space for your kid to call “home base”. Hand sanitizer, sun block, shade/rain umbrellas, and water bottles (there are refill stations around the park) are all must-haves. You’ll get extra credit for bringing toilet paper, just in case the porta-potties are out.

Kidzapalooza: A Family Destination

Festing at the Kidzapalooza area is a great way to get into the festival spirit, especially with a younger child. The music is family-friendly, but don’t worry about it being cloyingly kid-like – it’s still cool!

Upon entry, go immediately to the Tag-A-Kid tent to outfit your child in a nifty bracelet with her name and emergency contact information. This will help reunite you and your child in the event of a separation.

Besides the music, there are several workshops and events in the Kidza zone worth checking out. March to the beat of your own drum at the drum zone, learn to beatbox, dance and shimmy at a DJ-led dance party, or get a haircut, cooking lesson, temporary tattoo, or other sponsored merch from one of the sneaky corporate brands who will entice your kid with cool stuff here.

For a break from the noise and excitement of the fest, grab a book or a few zzz’s at the Land of Nod, a chill-out zone with shade, books, and art projects.

Big Kidz at Lolla

If you’re bringing an older child, or even if you’re staying past 5pm with your younger kid, take a trip out of Kidza to the big, wide world of Lolla fun. You’ll find street food galore, an art market with fair trade, organic, vintage and handmade items and, once again, more free swag than you can shake an anti-capitalist stick at.

Be sure to check out celebrity chef Graham Elliot’s Chow Town, a foodie’s street food paradise. The curated zone elevates standard festival fare to Masterchef levels, with the help of Chicago’s own “Masterchef” co-host. Older kids with expanding palates and food dream futures will especially enjoy this “taste” of a bigger world.

When you’re done sampling, head to the Lolla Market for your favorite merch.

Then head straight for Lolla Cares to see what several fine Chicago charities are doing to promote love, peace, and bone marrow transplants. You can find places to donate, volunteer, and get involved all over Chicago.

Feelapalooza the Music

Let’s not forget about what you came to Lollapalooza for in the first place— the music! Seeing live music is a memorable experience for people of any age, but taking your child to his first concert will be a memory you’ll always share.

Choose your bands carefully, and ask around at the festival for any stages or zones that are particularly “adult themed.” Be prepared to have tough conversations about illicit substances and perhaps sexual escapades if your kids witness anything untoward. Overall, be cautious but not overzealously in protection mode. Kids will be as casual as you are.

The most important thing you can do at Lollapalooza is find a fun band and experience to share.

Will you attend Lollapalooza (or Kidzapalooza) with the kids this year? Which bands are you most excited to see?

Cover image by Roger Ho

Tags : hip happenings   music festivals   lollapalooza   bonding   

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