As some of you may have already seen on social media, I attended the 2019 Pokémon Go Fest in Chicago last Sunday at Grant Park. I ran a poll on Instagram and Twitter, and quite a few of you were excited to read about my experience. I’m going to share the entire experience with you, as well as my thoughts on it overall. If you’re a Pokémon nerd like me, or if you’re genuinely curious about Pokémon Go Fest, then this post is for you.
If you’re confused about what I’m talking about, it is a festival for the app, Pokemon Go, which has been happening every year since 2017 (a year after the game was released). It allows people from all over the world to come together and play the app. Each year, the festival grows bigger and bigger. For the first time this year, Go Fest was held four days from June 13 – June 16, but each person had to choose which day they wanted to attend.
This year was my first time attending, so I was extremely lucky to have gotten tickets. To buy tickets, everyone had to enter a random drawing. If you were selected in the drawing, you then had the option to purchase up to four tickets. I got selected towards the end of the drawing, so I almost didn’t think I was going to get selected. I ended up buying my boyfriend and I general admission tickets for Sunday, which got us into the event from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on June 16th.
What I Packed
There was information on the ticket website that stated what items were allowed into the event. It said a clear backpack was required, so I purchased one specifically for Go Fest. I also packed sunscreen, ponchos, multiple portable chargers, snacks (granola bars & Cheez-Its), water bottles, a spare charging cable, tissues (for porta-potties), a mini portable fan and a light jacket.
Turns out, there were no lines or security to get into the park, so we didn’t need the clear backpacks after all. There was supposed to be light rain showers that day, but it ended up not raining at all. It got pretty cold by the end of the day, so I was glad I brought the jacket. I would’ve much rather over packed things we didn’t need than to get stuck in the rain and not be able to play.
I’m pretty lucky that I live close enough for a 4.5-hour drive to Chicago. I originally planned on waking up early and making the drive Sunday morning, but I knew I was going to be exhausted. At the last minute, I booked a fairly cheap hotel and we left Saturday afternoon. I’m not sure what the deal was, but traffic was so bad that the drive ended up being over 7 hours. It’s hard telling how long the drive would’ve been Sunday morning, so I’m glad we got there a day early to avoid being late. Our hotel was only a 25-minute drive from Grant Park. Luckily, we didn’t have any problems getting there from the hotel.
We ended up getting to Grant Park right around 10 a.m. so we had an hour to kill before our ticketed time. We immediately got in line for merch since our apps wouldn’t load any Pokémon or anything in the park until 11 a.m. hit. Our timing couldn’t have been more perfect because right at 11 a.m. we ended up at the front of the merch line. Unfortunately, our top merch picks were out of stock, but we were both able to grab other things we wanted.
After we grabbed our merch, it was time to start playing the game. The main part of the in-app experience was the Special Research tasks, which unlocked the Mythical Pokémon Jirachi. We started on the research tasks right away. The tasks revolved around the Pokémon that were spawning in the park at specific biomes. It was really cool, because they had actual biomes set up around the park (Sandy Desert, Fairy Garden, Buckingham Fountain, Winter Forest and Spooky Woods). The only bad thing about the setup was that it had rained a couple days before, so the ground was really muddy by the time we got there.
For every Pokéstop that you spun in Grant Park, it gave you a research task. Each time you completed a task, you were rewarded three rare candies. This was a big surprise for me, because it is hard to acquire rare candy in the game unless you do a lot of raids. I ended the day with 130 rare candy which was awesome!
We completed the Jirachi quest line about 2.5 hours into our day. After we caught Jirachi, we grabbed lunch at a food truck in the park. Then we spent the rest of the day catching Pokémon we needed for evolutions or badges, hunting for shinies, doing a few trades with random people we met, and racking up as much rare candy as we could before the event ended.
Right after we grabbed lunch, both of our phones had started dying and we had to resort to using the portable chargers. There were charging stations set up all around the park and we ended up having to use one because both of our portable chargers got low and died. I survived off my portable charger, but my boyfriend, Kohl, was using his iPad and it needed a little more power because it drained a lot quicker than my phone.
There were team lounges set up around the park, one for Valor, Mystic and Instinct. While Kohl was sitting at a charging station, I went over to one of the Valor tents (our team) and participated in some of the trivia and challenges that were going on. I didn’t end up winning anything, but I did have fun and it killed some time while we were just sitting around. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to take advantage of the battle area because we didn’t win any passes at the team lounges.
After our devices were charged up, we had about an hour left before the event ended. I’m not even sure where the time went because it honestly flew by. With an hour to spare, we walked around one last time and caught as many Pokémon as we could. We left right when it ended at 7 p.m., because all of the Pokémon and Pokéstops in the park disappeared when it was over. Had it not all disappeared, we definitely would’ve stayed a little longer.
Overall, I thought it was an awesome experience! The Jirachi quest was super fun, the in-game rewards were pretty cool, and the rare Pokémon that spawned in the wild were awesome too! This was the first time that Pokémon like Absol and Mawile could be caught in the wild. I ended up with a shiny Mawile so I was extremely happy about it! I really liked the biomes that they had set up all over the park. My only complaints were how muddy the park and biomes were from the previous day’s rain, and the merch running out of stock so quickly.
I thought that the price of the tickets were very reasonable. I really liked the location, and it surprisingly wasn’t crowded like I imagined it would be. For everyone to be walking around looking down at their phones, I surprisingly didn’t bump into anyone or get bumped into. I also had good luck with shinies and caught six that day! I think Chicago is the perfect place to host Pokemon Go Fest, but I wouldn’t be against going to any of the other locations around the world if the opportunity arises!
If I can go again in the future, I would in a heartbeat. I can only hope I get selected again for next year!
If you would like to add me in the game, my Pokémon Go friend code is: 2851 4749 3304
Do you still play Pokémon Go? Be sure to let me know in the comments, and let me know if you have any other burning questions about the event.
Until next time,