What is VIP? | What is VIP Access at Concerts & Music Festivals

Over the weekend, I attended Governors Ball Music Festival by way of a generous gift: 3-day VIP passes. To be clear, let me just say that I am not usually the VIP type. My first question was, “What is VIP?” and what is VIP access? Until these tickets came my way, I had honestly never even entertained the idea of VIP tickets to…well, anything really. And why should I? Most of the time, I’m barely willing to pay the price of General Admission. How is it different than regular old normal-priced tickets? Is VIP worth the significantly higher price? I decided to find the answers for myself.  Here’s what I found out about VIP tickets.

What is VIP?

I quickly realized the main problem with my questions: there is no universal definition of VIP (in the world of concert tickets at least). In the case of Governors Ball 2014, I came to the conclusion that VIP is totally worth the price. But Gov Ball is a bit of a unique case; there are two styles of VIP tickets (and the biggest difference between the two is probably the $1500 in price). Most music events do not have a VIP option as cheap as Gov Ball’s, which is only double the price of GA. That price may seem steep, but realistically it’s way cheaper than average. Since VIP tickets can vary tremendously from one event to another, I chose a few events in particular to hone in on: Governors Ball 2014, Lollapalooza 2014Bonnaroo 2014, and Austin City Limits 2014. Check out what VIP means at these 2014 music festivals below.

Austin City Limits VIP 2014

ACL Music Festival photo via flickr

This year, 3-day VIP passes sold for $1050 on the ACL website with unlimited VIP Grove access, which includes: Gourmet Happy Hour daily with guest chef tastings, Complimentary catered food servings throughout the day, Complimentary beer, wine, water and specialty drinks, Mini spa treatments from Austin’s Viva Day Spa, Shade and relaxed seating in the VIP Grove (no stage seating/viewing), Air conditioned restrooms, and VIP Parking Pass (with purchase of four VIP passes).The VIP Grove is an area near the main entrance full of oak trees, perfect for creating shade to relax. Honestly, the shade alone is probably the best part of this deal. Shady areas are always a plus at music festivals, but this is Texas, so shade is prime real estate. These are some of the only shaded areas in the entire venue, and you can bet they’re roped off for VIP, media or artist patrons.
The other main highlight of the VIP Grove is the happy hour. Gourmet Austin restaurants set up booths that serve treats adapted from their usual menus. One downside of this is that we’ve heard the food and refreshments can only be enjoyed in the Grove. This probably makes it annoyingly difficult to coordinate with fellow festival-goers who have regular passes. This isn’t the ultimate exclusivity however; that would be in the Media and Artists Groves (and the “friends of C3” badge will get you behind just about every door or stage in the festival). Unfortunately, it seems that VIP doesn’t really get you a better view of the bands during performances, which is a must for me if I’m paying that much for VIP. But if that’s not a must for you, or you’d prefer having comfort amongst the Texas heat, crowds and lines, go for the ACL VIP pass.

Lollapalooza VIP 2014

Lollapalooza VIP tickets allows you a daily wristband for each day of the festival, Friday – Sunday. These VIP wristbands allow you unlimited access to both Lolla Lounges, Lolla Lounge North and South. You can also take advantage of access to fully air conditioned bathroom facilities, mini-spa treatments, and elevated viewing platforms, along with VIP Golf Cart Shuttles Transportation. Beer, wine, specialty cocktails, and heaping portions of catered food are served free daily.
Platinum Passes allow the most access during the weekend however, with everything offered to VIP’s plus a “dedicated golf cart” for transportation throughout the festival grounds (which we assume means you get your own personal golf cart), on-site concierge services, access to Artist Lounges, Platinum Lounges and more. There is an air conditioned Platinum-Only Hospitality Area, with both a North & South Lounge as well, and Platinum buyers can purchase tickets before anyone else each year. VIP passes are currently sold out on the festival’s website, but you can purchase 3 day VIP passes on TickPick for $1800, and Platinum passes are currently $3,600 on the festival site. GA 3-day passes are sold out on the festival’s site as well, so they start around $345 on TickPick. Single day VIP passes are also an option; you can find FridayVIP tickets on TickPick for around $950. I personally think that price difference between GA and VIP is pretty steep, but it’s also hard to judge because VIP tickets don’t usually sell out this quickly. Selling out could definitely be a sign that VIP at Lollapalooza is worth it.

Lollapalooza VIP photo via lollapalooza.com

Governors Ball VIP 2014

Standard VIP Tickets were $500, and allowed you access to VIP viewing areas in close proximity to each stage. These areas were built for comfort above everything else with amenities like shaded areas, massage services, games like ping pong and comfortable seating arrangements. There’s no understating the condition of the bathrooms either – it’s great to escape the humidity of any fest with comfortably air conditioned facilities.

Super VIP Tickets allowed you access to all the aforementioned perks with quite a bit more. Perks included car service to and from the Governor’s Ball, access to a concierge service on-site for all customer service needs, and access to the side stages during a variety of different acts throughout the festival. Super VIP also meant the Freeloaders Lounge, an exclusive backstage bar with free drinks. Three food tokens were administered every day of the festival to be used at the various food trucks. Merchandise packs that included 1 festival shirt, 1 poster and pair of sunglasses were included. These tickets were $2000 and I personally would just buy normal VIP, but it’s really a matter of what you’re looking for in your festival experience.

governors ball vip

Bonnaroo VIP 2014

VIP tickets offer you preferred parking and camping in close proximity to the venue for one car with eligibility for an RV upgrade.VIP access also means special showers and bathroom facilities, three exclusive lounge areas that carry laptops and charging stations, live video feed of festival performances, and even gaming areas for those inclined to play Call of Duty instead of watching the music. There is a VIP pre-event dinner and party on Thursday night which includes buffet and live band, Yoga classes are held on Friday, Saturday & Sunday in the VIP Campground,  Public Wifi is available 24/7, and twice daily ice cream socials and fresh fruit are made available in the VIP lounges. VIP tickets also afford you access to exclusive viewing areas for the What and Which stages. VIP tickets are around $1500 per pair, which honestly isn’t that crazy. We think this is probably worth it if you’re willing to splurge.

At the end of the day, the definition of “VIP” is as subjective as the festival experience itself. I personally would buy normal VIP, but it’s really a matter of what you’re looking for in your festival experience. So what is VIP, you ask? Well, I don’t know.
What’s it to you?
Let us know in the comments.

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