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Lollapalooza Could Return This Summer If COVID-19 Cases Decline, Fest Co-Founder Says

The city isn’t making any promises fests will happen, but Lollapalooza organizers have an administrative hold on Grant Park July 14-Aug. 6.

Lollapalooza in 2017.
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CHICAGO — With festival season around the corner, Lollapalooza’s co-founder said he hopes to bring the festival back in “some capacity” this August if coronavirus cases keep declining.

In an interview with iHeart Radio’s Jason Rockman, Lolla co-founder and Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell said he is holding out hope they can host the city’s largest festival with a smaller capacity in August.

In discussing the festival, Farrell said if people can “stay on course, get vaccinated, stay socially distanced and masked up, maybe — please, God, maybe — we’ll get to go to Chicago in early August in one capacity or another.”

“If it’s not a giant Lollapalooza, it might be a half-capacity Lollapalooza or no Lollapalooza maybe. But I want there to be a Lollapalooza in some capacity so bad,” Farrell said. 

Credit: Screenshot
Lollapalooza co-founder and Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell discusses the festival during an iHeart Radio interview.

During the radio interview, Farrell said the festival’s fate ultimately hinges on COVID-19 cases. 

“If the people are getting it right and we’re flattening out and we’re going away from COVID infections, there’s hope,” Farrell said.

” … You know, I listen to Joe Biden when he thinks July 4 could be the first time we have a small celebration. I’m gonna say then my first small celebration will be in August, and I wanna have it in Chicago.”

Last year, festivals, parades, neighborhood events came to a screeching halt in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

RELATED: Is Festival Season Happening This Summer? Pitchfork And Riot Fest Organizers Make Plans, While Others Look To 2022

But with the vaccine rollout underway, some festival organizers are hope to be back in business this year.

More than 240 permit applications for festivals and events have been submitted to the Chicago Park District for 2021, according to public records obtained by Block Club. Organizers of Pitchfork, Ruido Fest and ARC Music Festival are seeking permits for Union Park, while Riot Fest and Summer Smash have applied for permits at Douglass Park, predicting 15,000 to 45,000 attendees, records show.  

The city isn’t making any promises the fests will happen. Mayor’s office spokeswoman Christine Carrino said leaders are “not formally planning, nor permitting events at this time,” but they are “hopeful” some events could be possible should the city make enough progress in the fight against coronavirus.

“As such, Mayor Lightfoot has directed city departments to prepare for the possibility of events this summer and ensure any resources that could be necessary are available,” Carrino said. 

Asked about Lollapalooza and Taste of Chicago, city officials previously told Block Club they were “not yet ready to predict specific events.” 

If the health guidelines allow for it, “the city will provide guidance to event organizers on how to execute events as safely as possible,” said spokeswoman Asha Binbek.

Lollapalooza annually attracts about 100,000 to Grant Park. Currently, the Chicago Park District has placed an administrative reservation on Grant Park from July 14 to Aug. 6, the Tribune first reported.

Park District officials did not answer questions about Lollapalooza permit application. 

Lollapalooza organizers have not announced dates for the festival, and did not respond to a request for comment.

The state will only allow festivals, large events and conventions when Illinois moves into Phase 5 of its reopening plan. That’s at least weeks away, as Gov. JB Pritzker said last week the state will have to vaccinate more people and then wait 28 days to ensure there’s no COVID-19 surge before moving into Phase 5.

But major festivals are banking on late summer or fall events.

Pitchfork is tentatively planned for Sept. 10-12 in Union Park, according to the Tribune. Riot Fest organizers have started promoting their festival at Douglass Park for Sept. 17-19. ARC Music Festival, a new house and techno festival, is planning for Labor Day weekend.

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