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What year was the first Lollapalooza festival?

The Chicago-based festival has had an eclectic history and this year's show marks not only the post-pandemic return but also a significant anniversity.

The Chicago-based festival has had an eclectic history and this year's show marks not only the post-pandemic return but also a significant anniversity.
Gary MillerFilmMagic

Lollapalooza returns this weekend as one of the United States’ most iconic festivals is hosted at Chicago’s Grant Park. After a pandemic-affect festival calendar last year, organisers will have been delighted that Lollapalooza was able to return at full capacity for the event’s 30th anniversary.

The festival was first held in 1991, when it served as the farewell tour for alternative rock outfit Jane’s Addiction. The band’s leader, Perry Farrell, said that he picked the festival's name after hearing it used in a Three Stooges film; deciding that the definition of “extraordinarily impressive” fitted well.

That first iteration was a multi-city affair with 20 locations across the US and Canada hosting the likes of Nine Inch Nails and Ice-T, as well as Jane’s Addiction.

What’s the history of Lollapalooza?

Initially thought of as a one-off event, the organisers made so much money off the back of the first year’s success that they decided to revive the idea in 1992. Again the festival would tour across North America, this time with a second stage. This format would remain through 1997.

However the festival began to lose momentum and the 1998 edition was cancelled as Lollapalooza stopped making money. The show’s touring model returned in 2003 for a brief revival but it wasn’t until 2005 that the festival would really take off.

14 years after the first event, a two-day festival was held in Grant Park to showcase the best in rock music. This was the change that was needed and it was such a success that a third day was added to the Chicago festival in 2006. By 2016 Lollapalooza had extended to a fourth day and its musical scope broadened to include rap, hip-hop and pop music, while maintaining a reputation for enticing some of rock music’s biggest stars.

Lollapalooza 2021 returns in unusual circumstances

Any prospects of a 2020 edition of the festival were dashed by the covid-19 pandemic but organisers were able to plot a return for this year. With locals restrictions loosened Lollapalooza 2021 will play host to crowds of up to 100,000 people each day, with the likes of Foo Fighters, Post Malone, Miley Cyrus and Megan Thee Stallion starring.

However while the festival’s return is course for celebration, spiralling case numbers in Chicago has forced organisers to implement some new rules for Day Three. Concertgoers will have to wear masks in indoor venues from Saturday onwards after new advice from the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Fans had already been required to provide proof either that they had been vaccinated or of a negative covid-19 test. Attendee Reagan Tallmadge said of the entry requirements for the 30th anniversary of Lollapalooza:

"It's easy enough for everyone to go get tested. They were offering it right down the street; it's easy enough for everyone to get vaccinated if they feel comfortable, and so I feel like it was appropriate; it's not keeping anyone out unless they have covid, which I think is fair.”


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