CHICAGO Lollapalooza returns to Grant Park this Friday to Sunday. With eight stages and more than 130 bands, including headline acts Paul McCartney and Metallica, the music festival is poised to draw some 100,000 fans a day. Several ticket packages are available for the fest, and premium passes come with perks such as spa treatments and unlimited snacks.
The V.I.P. passes, which start at $1,850 each, offer three-day access to the so-called Lolla Lounges. Stationed on both ends of Grant Park, the lounges have raised viewing platforms that overlook the main stages, as well as complimentary drinks, mini spa treatments, access to V.I.P. golf cart shuttles, lounge areas, and air-conditioned restrooms.
Chicago-based Kehoe Designs is again handling decor for the V.I.P. areas. This year, the firm will set up lounge areas using all-new wicker furniture (last year's furniture was white plastic). For the catering area, designers will bring in steel-cage wooden counters; the area will also be decked with illuminated towers and colorful lawn chairs and ottomans.
Catering by Michael's will return to cater the V.I.P. areas. In 2014, the food service style switched from buffets that opened at particular times to an “all day, food-court style” of service, said Jeffrey Ware, the company's director of operations. “We implemented a P.O.S. system last year for tracking guest eating habits, and learned some really interesting things from the data.”
The V.I.P. areas this year will have four food booths with the themes: Taco, Picnic, Italian, and Snacks & Desserts. New menu items include warm, mozzarella-stuffed breadsticks topped with rosemary-infused olive oil and sea salt, and “Big Kahuna” mini burgers with seared Canadian bacon and pineapple salsa.The most popular dishes from last year, including “Tinga de Pollo” tacos and Lou Malnati’s deep-dish cheese pizza, will return to the menu.
Festivalgoers also have the option to purchase Platinum Passes, which run for $3,600 a pop. The top tickets offer three-day access to two air-conditioned hospitality areas for Platinum ticket holders only. Other perks include access to the festival's Artist Lounge areas, dedicated concierge service, golf cart transportation throughout the park, and festival swag. Kehoe is handling decor for these areas as well. “This year, we’re changing up the vibe,” said event producer Joey Alissa Berman. “We’re going for a 'Rastafarian Ombre' effect, giving people lots of color, natural accents, and immense textures. We’ll have a lot of fresh greenery, ceiling decor, custom graphics, and full-scale lounge furniture.”
As for meal service in the Platinum lounges, which is also handled by Catering by Michael's, this year's menu will include casual lunch buffets with items such as smoked-pork bao buns to highlight modern Asian cuisine, which Ware said is “very in right now.” Dinner service involves chef action stations serving items such as spicy sirloin steak and bacon-wrapped chicken. “The biggest change this year is that to promote the new Chicago Food & Wine Festival coming up later in August, we are bringing in [local restaurant] Big Star to do some tacos and other snacks as midday munchies,” Ware says.
Catering by Michael's will also service V.I.P. areas sponsored by Samsung. While the snacks at last year's V.I.P. Samsung activations reflected a “Glamping” theme, the theme this year is “City View Loft.” The food presentation will be modern and clean, with hues of black, grey, and white with metallic pops. “The food is very much Chicago-influenced with a high-end spin,” says Ware. “Rather than a [typical] Chicago-style hot dog, we are passing mini sun-dried tomato and basil chicken sausages with sage pesto aioli and smoked mozzarella on a fresh baked mini baguette. Our play on Italian beef is thin-sliced prime rib topped with bone-marrow butter and served on a fresh Turano roll. Buffalo chicken and grilled vegetable pizza muffins stand in for classic deep dish.” Desserts will include homemade Nutter Butter bars, strawberry shortcake push pops, and flavored popcorn.