How Long Do Tailgates Last?

How long do tailgates last

Tailgates don’t necessarily have a defined time for how long they have to be. It can really be as long or as short as you want it to be. Of course the parking lot has to at least be open for you to tailgate. If the parking lot is open you can technically get started. Of course, it’s maybe a little unreasonable to tailgate for that long.

How long do tailgates last? Well it depends on what event you are tailgating and really how long you want to tailgate for. We’ll take a look at the four events that people tailgate most often to see how long a normal tailgate would be. A general rule of thumb for how long people tailgate for is about 4 hours. You can of course tailgate for more or less time, but that is a good average.

If you want to know how early you should show up for a tailgate, you can check out our blog on that here.

NFL Games

Tailgating lots open at different times depending on the stadium. I would check the stadium’s website beforehand to see when they open. Most stadiums open their lots either four or five hours before kickoff. If you’re tailgating a 1 PM game on the east coast and the stadium lots open five hours before kick off, you could technically start tailgating at 8 AM. I don’t know about you, but 8 AM is too early for me. For a 1 PM kickoff, tailgate might be a little shorter. I think tailgates for the early games should start at about 10:00 and wrap up at about 12:30. In this case two and a half hours is a reasonable amount of time to tailgate.

For the second slate of games and the night games, you can tailgate much longer. If you have a 4:30 kickoff on the east coast and lots open 5 hours before kickoff, tailgates can start at 11:30. I would start right at 11:30 in this case and give myself about 30 minutes before kickoff to make my way into the stadium and get to my seat. I think four and a half hours of tailgating is reasonable for games starting later in the day. Again, it doesn’t have to be that long because you show up and leave whenever. I just think you might as well make the most of the experience because you spent a lot on the ticket.

Same thing with the night games. I would start as soon as possible and give myself about 30 minutes to get into the stadium. I think it is reasonable to expect tailgates to last about four and a half hours for prime-time games.

College Football

College football games have probably the longest lasting tailgates. Some college students might even tailgate the whole day. Homecoming games are essentially a day long tailgate and we’re not complaining. Unlike with early NFL games, there’s not really a time that is too early to tailgate for college football.

Some teams have a noon kickoff on Saturdays and tailgate lots can be open at 6 AM in some places. Again, be sure to check before hand because stadiums have different times. In some cases though, tailgates could start as early as 6 AM. You would think no one would tailgate that early. Especially not college kids, they sleep in on Saturday. Well, not on game day. College students will be up and ready to go. For a noon kickoff game you can expect a tailgate to last for about 4 hours. This is a little shorter than games with later kick off times just because of how early it is.

For games with later kick off times, all bets are off. At some college stadiums, tailgate lots are open all day. If you’re a college student you might be tailgating the entire day. For the older crowd, maybe tailgating all day isn’t your style anymore. Still, you won’t want to miss out on all the fun in a college stadium parking lot. I think its reasonable to expect tailgates for college football games with a later kick off time to last about five or six hours.

Depending on the person, the duration of the tailgate could change by quite a bit. If you are going to tailgate all day be sure to pace yourself and stay hydrated. Also, you might want to switch it up a bit throughout the day. Maybe visits a friends tailgate and do some socializing if you don’t want to stay in one place the whole time.


Tailgating lots for concerts are similar to NFL tailgate lots. A lot of concerts are actually held at NFL stadiums so they are going to have the same rules about when the lots open. Just to be safe, check beforehand to make sure. Generally though, you can expect the lots to open up about 4 hours before the concert begins. Also, you’ll want to make sure that tailgating is allowed because I have seen a few concert venues that don’t allow any tailgating.

Concert tailgates generally don’t last as long as NFL or college football tailgates. Don’t get me wrong, they are still plenty of fun but its not quite the same. It’s a bit of a different atmosphere because you’re not showing team spirit and you wanna save some energy for the actual concert itself. I think for a concert its reasonable to expect a tailgate to last for about two hours.

If you are going to tailgate a concert, make sure you bring a good speaker. When you tailgate a football game, you bring a football to throw around. It only makes sense that if you’re going to tailgate a concert you would want to listen to some music. My favorite speaker is the Brookstone Big Blue Party available on Amazon. You can bring this speaker to any tailgate because it’s super portable and the sound is great. It also works great for any house party.


Admittedly, I’ve never to been to a NASCAR tailgate myself but I know that they are one of the most popular events to tailgate. NASCAR tailgates can be long, but a ton of fun. What’s unique about NASCAR tailgates is that you can actually camp out at some places, making tailgating a weekend long event. If you have a camper or RV you can make a weekend out of it.

If you are going to tailgate for the entire weekend, make sure you’re prepared! Bring plenty of food and drinks and all the other necessities. For NASCAR, its more of a camping trip than it is a tailgate. If you’re just going for the day, you could still expect tailgating to be all day because everyone else will be there the whole time. If the track doesn’t let people camp out in the lots and you still want to make a weekend out of it, you can always find a camping lot near by. With NASCAR, tailgates really last however long you want them to.

If you liked this article, be sure to check out some out other articles on tailgating!

Sam Rebinskas

Sam is the co-founder of Improve Your Gameday and loves all Boston sports teams.

Recent Content