The writing has been on the wall for weeks now, but today Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events made it official: There will be no outdoor festivals in Chicago for the remainder of the summer. The city has canceled all permitted special events through Labor Day, which means that major outdoor gatherings like Lollapalooza, Taste of Chicago, the Chicago Air and Water Show, Chicago Jazz Festival and Chicago SummerDance won't be happening in 2020. The cancelation also extends to programming at the Chicago Riverwalk, the Chicago Cultural Center and Millennium Park, as well as the Maxwell Street Market.
In a press release, Mayor Lightfoot acknowledged that canceling summer events was necessary but urged Chicagoans to take part in digital programming that's being organized by the city. “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,” Lightfoot said, presenting the following lineup of online events.
- Millennium Park at Home: Live performances by Jon Langford, The Braided Janes, Zeshan B, Sen Morimoto and other local musicians on Thursdays (June 18 and 25, 6–7:30pm; July 9, 16 and 23, 6–7:30pm); Blues performances by Melody Angel, John Primer, Toronzo Cannon and others (July 31–August 2 at 6–8pm); Online Tai Chi, Yoga, Pilates and Zumba workouts (Saturdays from June 6–August 29, 8–9am).
- SummerDance in Place: An at-home version of the summer tradition, encouraging residents to gather with up to 10 people to watch a 30-minute dance lesson followed by 60 minutes of music on Wednesday evenings in July (July 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29).
- Taste of Chicago To-Go: A Community Eats program (July 8–12) will support 25 restaurants and food trucks, accompanied by a food truck processions (July 8) and online cooking demos.
- Drive-in movie nights: Instead of the Millennium Park Summer Film Series, DCASE and the Chicago Park District are planning six drive-in movie nights throughout the city. Capacity will be limited to 50 cars and attendees will need to pre-register.
- Local music venue showcase: DCASE is arranging 20 live events featuring Chicago musicians performing at local clubs and other unique locations, open to a limited number of in-person spectators and streamed online. The performances will begin later this month and continue through September, when the focus will turn to local jazz musicians and venues.
- Lollapalooza live stream: Details are sparse, but the organizers of Lollapalooza are planning a weekend-long livestream from July 30–August 2 featuring live music. Expect more information in July.
While the cancelation of special events through Labor Day means that the majority of Chicago's summer calendar has been cleared, a few September events (most notably Riot Fest and Chicago Gourmet) are clinging to their original dates. Unless there are some major positive developments, we expect them to scrap their 2020 editions in the coming weeks—large gatherings seem unlikely to return until Chicago reaches the final phase of its reopening.
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