Which Remaining Summer Music Festival Has the Best VIP Experience?
From Lollapalooza to Austin City Limits
For live music aficionados with a taste for better-than-average experiences, summer is basically the holiday season for music festivals. Christmas in June, July, August and September.
The music festival tradition has become more mainstream in popularity in recent years, expanding its attendance beyond the state school spring breakers and Burning Man clientele. In fact, according to Billboard.com, roughly 32 million Americans go to at least one music festival every year, with 14.7 of those million identifying as millennials.
But if you want to avoid massive entry lines, packed crowds and disturbing bathroom situations, you’re not alone. VIP passes have been introduced to nearly every music festival (with some even offering a platinum upgrade), granting special ticket holders access to comforts in order to upgrade your live music experience.
Special packages began in the early ’90s when stars, promoters and Ticketmaster executives created a “golden circle” program for high-priced and highly-coveted seats, according to Rolling Stone. Nowadays, standard VIP experiences have evolved to include exclusive bars and lounges, while some of the more ostentatious packages boast complimentary meals, golf cart transportation, lodging and, in some cases, a personal concert concierge.
We spoke with a representative from Fresh and Clean Media, who markets premium tickets for major festivals such as Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits and Voodoo Music Festival, to uncover the ins and outs of the VIP music festival experience.
“We curate VIP options based on anything that would bring extra comfort or convenience,” she said. “Things like massages, getting or hair braided or getting your nails done are some of the premium perks, as well as more functional things such as lockers and air-conditioned bathrooms, which act as an oasis within the festival.”
In order to maximize your festival-going experience, our insider recommends checking out the exclusive — and sometimes surprise — pop-up performances in VIP-only spaces. As far as safety and efficiency goes, doing your research beforehand on meeting spots, set times and peak dining hours will only help you.
“From a personal standpoint, I like to be as well-informed as possible,” she said. “Download the app for your festival: We offer tips on how to find the dedicated entry lanes so that you can skip the GA lines. Create your own schedule on the app so you can maximize your time.”
Although most festivals do offer phone charging stations, a dead cell phone and a missing friend will definitely put a damper on your daytime plans. Using the VIP lounge as a homebase to meet back up with friends or family in the event that a phone dies is the best way to save time sending search parties out and missing out on a performance.
Check out our list of our favorite music festivals this season with curated VIP and Premium options below.
Date(s): August 1-4
Location: Chicago, IL
Headliners: Childish Gambino, The Strokes, Tame Impala, Flume, The Chainsmokers, J Balvin
VIP: Includes exclusive viewing platforms of main stages 2 VIP Lounges with food, drinks, shade, premium restrooms and seating. Golf cart transportation between VIP lounges included.
Platinum: Includes two air-conditioned, private and secluded lounges complete with catering from gourmet Chicago restaurants and full dinner service. Guests with Platinum tickets can access four special standing room-only platforms located at the front of each stage.
Cabanas: have all the perks of VIP guests plus a luxury cabana suite that can accommodate up to 25 guests, elevated views of the Grant Park Stage, golf cart transportation to and from cabanas and in-suite service with customizable food and beverage options.
Kids: Bring the kids along for the ride. VIP and Platinum ticket holders can bring up to 2 guests under 10 years old free of charge (bonus: the lounges are all-ages).
Date(s): August 9-11
Location: San Francisco, CA
Headliners: Paul Simon, Childish Gambino, Anderson .Paak, The Lumineers, Lil Wayne
VIP: Exclusive performances, separate VIP-only entrance, VIP viewing areas at the main stages, VIP lounges with upgraded restrooms, exclusive food vendors and premium bars; VIP lockers for rent and access to exclusive VIP merch (plus, you get a cool festival poster with every VIP ticket purchase).
Golden Gate Pass: Everything VIP, in addition to Golden Gate Club access with elevated views of the main stage and an all-inclusive premium bar.
Date(s): August 30-September 1
Location: New York, NY
Headliners: Diplo, Afrojack, Benny Benassi
VIP: Premium viewing areas, premium restrooms, VIP lounge, full vash liquor bars, complementary cell phone recharge stations and complimentary hors d’oeuvres.
Platinum: access to Platinum-only viewing decks, along with all the other perks of being a VIP.
Tables: In what other city would you be willing to pay an arm and a leg for bottle service? Main stage VIP table bottle service starting at $3,500.
Made in America
Date(s): August 31-September 1
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Headliners: Travis Scott, Cardi B
VIP: Includes an on-site VIP concierge team, expedited festival entrance, VIP standing areas in front of two stages, premium bathrooms, complimentary wifi and charging stations, Air conditioned VIP lounge with comfortable seating and access to a premium cash bar with signature cocktails.
Austin City Limits
Date(s): October 4-6, October 11-13
Location: Austin, TX.
Headliners: Guns N’ Roses, Mumford & Sons, Childish Gambino, The Cure, Tame Impala
VIP: Elevated viewing deck of main stage, connected to an all-new VIP Grove. The shady oasis includes express spa treatments, air-conditioned restrooms, private bars and exclusive access to local food vendors.
Platinum: As always, Platinum ticket holders have all the perks of VIP ticket holders, with the addition of complimentary WiFi, Golf Cart Shuttle Transportation, complementary locker access and pre-sale access to ACL aftershows.