Saturday, August 02, 2014

Top tips for the Kidzapalooza 2014

Ear defenders are essential if you are close to the stage.  Here watching the wonderful Portugal. The Man

Grant Park, Chicago

So we took the children to the Lollapalooza yesterday. This is Chicago's big music festival. Within the festival is a mini-children's music festival the Kidzapalooza.

The Kidzapalooza is in a great location, beneath a shady grove of trees and there was plenty of space for the children to run around, play or watch the bands.

There is plenty to fill an afternoon until the children are exhausted. We've had a long afternoon on Friday and are looking forward to a second one today.  Yesterday, there were bands that specially cater for children, one included child-songstress-superstar Laura Doherty, and Portugal. The Man. also performed specially for the children (there was even a special kids only VIP area at the front because this act attracted lots of regular festival go-ers). All the bands seem to be really into playing for kids, which made it a wonderful experience.

We relied on credit cards and the Lolla cashless band, and took minimal cash, which turned out to be a mistake. Many places we tried were only taking cash--either because they were too small to do so or their facilities to accept cards and bands were not working. Take cash.

A few points in no particular order....

Free painting at Kidzapalooza

  • the drinks were expensive and they didn't accept either the Lolla cashless band or credit cards. $6 for a small lemonade which is mostly ice and water. You'll want to bring either sealed water in, or a plastic bottle you can fill up when you arrive.
  • you can't bring outside food in. I understand why but it is pretty useful when you have children to be able to carry a snack so you can give them a handful of something when they announce they are hungry. We were able to stave off some mid-afternoon hunger pangs thanks to some free fro-yo ice cream and packets of pretzels. There is a cafe-style shop near the fountain, a short walk away, but they were, again, only taking cash. There was a small snack stand next to the lemonade stand but this looked like it only took cash as well. 
  • The queues to get into Grant Park are lengthy. Best thing is to have one person go in through the bag check line, and someone else take the children through the Express, no bags, lane. You can then meet up at the relatively uncrowded Kidzapalooza. There is a giant yellow inflatable sign at the entrance to this mini-festival....this is a good meetup spot. (The Lost and Found, right by the main entrance, is also a good location for meeting up.)
  • Long distances to get to things for little feet. Wagons are not allowed. Strollers are. Be prepared.
  • take hand sanitizer and many baby wipes! You will probably want to use it on the toilet seats. Porta-potties were OK--as these things go. Although there were stands with hand sanitizer these did run out.
  • The Kidzapalooza appeared to be smoke free, outside in the main park is not. 
  • It is perfectly possible to take the kids to watch one of the big bands, with smaller children you'll obviously want to hang near the back where there are open lawns. You can spread out a blanket and listen there. Older ones can go further in but there will be people drinking and smoking and generally having a very good time at close quarters. You know the scene. 
  • In the Kidzapalooza. If it rains there are a few places to shelter. But it wasn't particularly crowded yesterday. There was a brief shower yesterday and it was fine. But come prepared for rain or hot weather. 
  • Ear defenders (these go over the ear) are essential if you want to take the children up close to the music. They are sold at the Kidzapalooza store for $20 each. If you don't want to pay this then don't take the kids too close to the amplification. It just isn't safe for their ears.

Near the main children's stage was an instrument petting zoo (i.e. play with instruments), hip hop lessons (great fun, the boys who did this were awesome), punk hairdos (a must), spray on tatoos and a very popular painting station. There were tumbling and dancing acts on between the bands.

Lots of great fun. Do bring the kids. We had a sitter in the evening and were able to make it back for the headline act last night.