Austin City Limits was my fourth multi-day music festival. Lollapalooza is still my staple and the one that I compare all festivals to. Here is how Austin City Limits and Lollapalooza stack up against each other.
Austin’s Zilker Park: The park is technically walkable from several hotels and Austin’s entertainment district. Festival organizers also provide free shuttle buses from Republic Square Park. Even though there are a lot of festivalgoers, the lines move quickly. The Austin city skyline provides a great setting.
Chicago’s Grant Park: This park is walkable from several nearby hotels and offers amazing Chicago skyline views. You are also close to several bars and restaurants in The Loop and Michigan Avenue.
Austin City Limits takes over 45 acres of Zilker Park and allows for a daily capacity of 75,000. The stages are closer together than Lollapalooza, which means there are times when you can hear the other stages while watching one performance. It can also be difficult to get past the crowd at one stage to get to another.
Lollapalooza takes over 115 acres of Grant Park and allows for a daily capacity of 100,000. It does take longer to go between the two end stages, but with all stages being further apart you don’t run into the problem of the performance at another stage interfering with the band you are seeing. The stages that are in the same area alternate set times – when the performance on one stage is over, the other stage beings its performance.
Food & Beverage
Local restaurants provide a large variety of delicious food options for everyone to enjoy. There are several beer tents and one microbrew tent that serves higher quality beer. Hard alcohol is not available to the general public, but may be made available to VIP.
Local businesses and regional classics are on sale at the food booths at Lollapalooza as well. Hard alcohol is only available in the VIP areas, but there are several beer tents and even a wine tent.
Austin City Limits has plenty of trashcans and recycling bins. They also partner with Rock N’ Recycle, which offers a free t-shirt to anyone who brings a full bag of cans and plastic cups. I didn’t see as many people walking around with these bags as I do at Lollapalooza. ACL also has free water refilling stations sponsored by CamelBak where you can fill up your CamelBak or water bottles.
There are also plenty of trashcans around Grant Park, each with a recycling bag attached to the side. Lollapalooza also partners with Rock N’ Recycle. There are always several people walking around with the green recycling bags. You would also see workers going through the park emptying the trashcans and recycling bags to ensure they did not overflow. CamelBak also partners with Lollapalooza offering free water refills.
Porta potties are never a person’s first choice, but at a music festival it’s your only option. Thankfully Austin City Limits had plenty of porta potties and kept them fairly well maintained.
Lollapalooza does a bit of a better job maintaining their porta potties. You see them being serviced at least twice each day. They are plenty available throughout the park and are rarely out of toilet paper.
I felt that Austin City Limits and Lollapalooza were very similar to each other. Either one would be an amazing experience for anyone that loves going to outdoor festivals.