UPDATED: As the U.S. moves closer to reopening seemingly every day, it looks like a big step forward will come in mid-summer, when the Lollapalooza Festival will return to Chicago with a four-day event at its usual place and date range — Grant Park, July 29-August 1 — sources tell Variety. The city of Chicago gave the event the greenlight at near-to or -full-capacity, insiders report, and an official announcement, likely with headliners, is expected to come next week.
Reps for festival organizers C3 Presents declined Variety’s request for comment, although one told the Chicago Tribune late last month, “We are excited about the progress in Chicago as the city continues to reopen. We are in close contact with city and public health officials as we continue to plan for the festival and remain optimistic about Lollapalooza 2021 in Grant Park.” The festival’s website still has the 2020 dates and lineup posted.
Late Thursday, CBS-2 Chicago cited an unnamed rep at “City Hall” as saying: “The Mayor’s Office and CDPH have been in conversation with several large event organizers, including the team at Lollapalooza, on how to bring these experiences back to Chicago in safe way. We are taking these events case by case and determining how we can ensure the safety of our patrons. While conversations have been moving forward in a positive way, nothing has been confirmed.” However, multiple industry sources tell Variety that the festival is moving forward, and the CBS-2 article also notes that the city plans to reopen with no restrictions by July 4, nearly four weeks before the festival.
Also last month, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that the city is loosening its current pandemic restrictions, with allowed to operate with 15 people per 1,000 square feet, as reported by the Tribune. The city’s first street festival is scheduled to be the Windy City Smokeout on July 8-11, although full vaccination is required for all vendors, performers and staff, and non-vaccinated attendees would be required to present proof of a negative COVID test taken within three days of entry.
Lollapalooza will not even be the first major festival to be held in the U.S. since the fall of 2019. The three-day hip-hop festival Rolling Loud, with headliners A$AP Rocky, Travis Scott and Post Malone, will take place July 23-25 at the 65,000-capacity Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. New York is also moving ahead with its Governors Ball Festival in September, with a lineup featuring Rolling Loud performers A$AP Rocky, Post Malone, 21 Savage, Megan Thee Stallion and Dababy as well as more Lollapalooza-centric artists like Billie Eilish, J Balvin, Phoebe Bridgers and Portugal. The Man.
It seems likely that many of those artists would perform at Lollapalooza as well.
The timing is in line with predictions made not only by multiple industry insiders, but with statements from Michael Rapino, CEO of Live Nation, the world’s largest live-entertainment company, who in February projected a return to outdoor concerts in the U.S. and the U.K. by mid-summer. He was more specific in a Recode podcast interview recorded early this month.
Asked when fans can expect concerts to return, he said, “It’s changing daily — every state is slowly opening up. But really it’s July and forward where you can start going to an outdoor show at a larger capacity, and some festivals will start in July in the U.S. In the U.K., I think we’ll be OK in July forward, and the rest of the world is months behind, but in the U.S., in certain states, by July you’ll be at full capacity outdoor shows.”