Your 2019 Riot Fest Survival Guide

Music festival days can feel like a marathon. Particularly when you’ve got three days of excellent bands packed in back to back. In the case of Riot Fest, you’ve also got a carnival to bounce around in when you’re not partying stage-side listening to your favorite bands. Plus you’ll have the potential obstacles navigating the festival grounds, the threat of crazy Chicago weather, and, um, the hangovers. So how do you last the whole festival, maximize your good times, and make it through Friday, Saturday, and Sunday without dying? We’ve got your Riot Fest Survival Guide for 2019 right here.

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First, plan ahead.

Hey, if you fail to plan, then you’re planning to fail! (Okay, but really, hear us out.)

First things first, know how you’ll be arriving to Riot Fest. As we’ve recommended over and over, avoid driving and utilize Chicago public transportation. Bus, rail, Metra, whatever – just use CTA to get to the festival and back each day. You can even ride a bike if you want! Trust us, not having a car will save you the headache of navigating the city, sitting in traffic, and the hassle and cost of parking. (Not to mention finding a designated driver if you plan on partaking in any adult beverages.) Just be sure to map out your route the night before. If you need help, Riot Fest has some handy tips on how to arrive.

Regarding the music, check out the Riot Fest schedule and stages where each band is playing so you can plan which artists you want to see ahead of time. Get a map of the festival and figure things out – then write it down so you have an idea of where you’re going when! You don’t want to feel the devastation that comes with missing your favorite song performed live. Make sure you have time to check out the Riot Fest carnival rides and activities too! There will be lots of local vendors, great food, nonprofits, and potentially a few bands signing autographs – check online beforehand to see what you want to hit up. Also, be sure to look at Riot Fest’s aptly titled guide, “How the heck do I find anything at Riot Fest?”

If you’re heading to Riot Fest with friends, you may want to split up to see different bands. That’s cool. Just be sure to set meeting points with them ahead of time – and be specific about it! – because oftentimes at big festivals, your phone may have trouble getting a good signal. You don’t want to be separated for the rest of the day!

Speaking of, charge your phone before you head out. You want that bad boy on 100% as you enter the gates!

What should you bring to Riot Fest?

Since you won’t be camping or sleeping at the festival grounds (please, don’t do that), you won’t have to worry about packing everything but the kitchen sink in order to be prepared. Also, you won’t be allowed to. If you have any doubts or questions about what you can bring into the festival, check the “Is it allowed at Riot Fest?” section of the FAQ page.

Of course, there are some essentials that you should bring to maximize your Riot Fest experience. We’ve listed a few important things below, but it’s not all encompassing. And be sure to check the weather and prepare for the worst because there have been a few muddy days in the past…

Here are a few things we’d recommend packing:

  • An empty water bottle (you can fill it up inside)
  • Fanny pack or small backpack
  • Light jacket (it can get chilly)
  • Sunscreen (non-aerosol only)
  • Blanket (for sitting in the grass – you’ll need some downtime)
  • Portable charger for your phone (you know why)
  • Poncho or rain jacket (just in case)
  • Comfortable shoes (not new, not your favorite, but potentially waterproof would be great)
  • No valuables (just bring the cheapo sunglasses)
  • Your tickets, your ID, and cash for all the vendors!

Riot Fest has even written an article about a few crucial things you should bring based on their years of festival experience, so you should definitely check that out. It’s got a few items you might not think about, like band-aids and hand sanitizer.

Yes, there will be lockers.

If you don’t listen to us and you somehow overpack, there will be lockers available for rental. These can be especially handy if it rains. General Admission lockers (with charging capabilities!) cost $50 for three days or $20 per day in 2018. You could split one with a friend! And yes, you can even leave things in your locker overnight!

Okay, okay, they’re actually super convenient…

Be Nice. Look out for each other.

Take normal precautions and you shouldn’t have any problems. Don’t get drunk and wander off alone outside the festival grounds, stay in a group after dark, be polite to the people who live there, and you’ll be fine.

As for the festival itself, it’s a party and really all about the music. So many fans are here to see their favorite band or cross one off their bucket list. Most people at Riot Fest are kind and cool. And everybody is here for a good time. Be nice and considerate, act like a human, take care of your friends, and have fun!

And remember, you’ve got three days of intense live music ahead of you. Don’t overdo it on the first day (that’s a one-way ticket to regret city). Know your limits and look out for each other!

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