Atmosphere

Northwestern is a very scenic campus in the fall, just minutes from Lake Michigan you feel the mellow breeze coming off the water that describes the atmosphere perfectly.  The fans are very laid back and come out to have fun and watch football; it’s as simple as that. You’ll find the student crowd playing some drinking games in the parking lot but outside of that, it’s not the craziest atmosphere in the conference.  Most of the fans come from the neighborhoods surrounding the field or from the city of Chicago.  There is a very local feel to the tailgates that makes it easy to bring the family.

If you feel like setting up your site, the best place to do so is off of Sheridan Road.  This is one of the many free spots to tailgate for fans before kickoff. It’s a fantastic place to set up your grills and throw on some Chicago-style hot dogs or look to see if anyone is serving up some Italian beef.  

The best time of year to go is either during the first weeks of the season when it is still warm, the lake breeze is very refreshing, and the Wildcats are playing Cupcake opponents. Or, if you’re able to get tickets, the last week of the season for the rivalry game vs. Illinois.

If you’re looking for a relaxing family friendly tailgate, then you’ll be right at home when tailgating before a Northwestern football game.

Traditions

Wildcat Alley

Located on the football practice field Northeast of Ryan Stadium is Wildcat Alley, a family friendly tailgate that is open three hours before kickoff. Wildcat Alley offers a variety of activities such as an inflatable football toss, face painting, and the Cricket Wireless Stage which features interviews with NU coaches and prizes that can be won by fans.

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Purple Clock

Starting with the 1995 season, the clock face of the Rebecca Crown Tower on the NU campus will change from white to purple if the Wildcats earn the victory. Since 1997, if the Wildcats win the final game during their season, the clock will remain purple until the start of the next season.

Walk With Us

Before the game starts, join in on the Walk with Us. About two and a half hours before kickoff, the band, cheerleaders, Willie the Wildcat, and fans welcome the team to the stadium. The tradition is done to honor former Head Coach Rand Walker and takes place along Wildcat Way. You’ll love Walk with Us as it gives you a chance to get up close to Wildcats players and coaches.

Where to tailgate

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