Lollapalooza — Chicago’s largest music festival — won’t be held this summer because of concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus, the city announced Tuesday.
The festival’s 170-plus acts typically draw 100,000 music fans to Grant Park for each of its four days, and it was said to be the highest revenue-generating event for the Chicago Park District last year. Festival promoter C3 Presents had not announced a lineup for the July 30-Aug. 2 event, and tickets were not for sale.
“We wish we could bring Lollapalooza to Grant Park again this year, but we understand why things can’t move forward as planned,” said festival organizers in a statement. “The health and safety of our fans, artists, partners, staff and community is always our highest priority.”
In place of the annual event, which will mark its 30th anniversary in 2021, Lollapalooza will be working with the city to offer a weekend-long livestream event that will cover the same dates as the festival. More information will come next month about what form that offering will take, but Lollapalooza’s statement promises “performances from around the city and beyond.”
The city also announced it is canceling all of its events through Labor Day, including Taste of Chicago, the Air and Water Show and the Chicago Jazz Festival to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. The city had already announced the cancellation of its summer festivals devoted to gospel, blues and house music.
“We must provide ways for people to enjoy the spirit of a Chicago summer while prioritizing health and safety,” said Mayor Lightfoot in a statement. “As difficult as it is to remove these in-person events from our calendar, we are pulling out all the stops for an inventive, engaging and fun festival season this summer.”
The Taste of Chicago was scheduled for July 8-12 in Grant Park. The festival, which began as a one-day affair in 1980, is a summer staple that clocked more than 1 million visitors in 2019, according to the city. Eighty-plus eateries took part last year, and some 600 artists and performers were hired to entertain attendees. This year’s food and music lineups had not been announced.
This is not the first time the Taste has been canceled. Then-mayor Harold Washington nixed the event in 1983, saying the city couldn’t afford it without corporate sponsorship. Sponsors stepped up, and Taste resumed in 1984.
In its place the city announced “Taste of Chicago To-Go,” which will include an expanded Community Eats program (July 8–12), supporting about 25 neighborhood restaurants and food trucks while providing free meals to nonprofits serving healthcare and other frontline workers. The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events will also organize a food truck procession (July 8) and online cooking demos (July 8–12).
The Air and Water show was to take place Aug. 15-16 at North Avenue Beach. The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds were slated to headline the popular weekend show that has been held on Chicago’s lakefront since 1959. The city estimates the event draws some 2 million spectators annually and is the largest and longest-running free air show of its kind in the country.
The 42nd annual Chicago Jazz Festival was to have stretched from Aug. 28 through Sept. 6, the main events taking place the last four days at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. Though the schedule had not been announced, the festival famously casts a spotlight on revered and emerging Chicago artists, as well as visiting headliners. The loss of the Chicago Jazz Festival also carries symbolic weight, since this event gave rise to other city-sponsored music fests, including the Blues and Gospel Music Festivals.
“Our primary goal, even before we knew as an organization what was going to happen, is of course the safety of everyone — the safety of our city, our musicians, our members,” said Heather Ireland Robinson, executive director of the Jazz Institute of Chicago, which programs the festival.
As the Chicago club scene is reeling from the shutdown caused by the novel coronavirus and looking for a way out, DCASE also announced a series of about 20 live events featuring Chicago musicians performing live at local clubs and other locations. These are planned to be in-person concerts, broadcast to larger audiences. This will include jazz in August and September, in place of the Chicago Jazz Festival.
Chicago Tribune journalists Howard Reich, Doug George, Ariel Cheung and Phil Vettel contributed to this report.
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