Chile Prepares To Host First Lollapalooza Fest Outside The U.S.

When Lollapalooza Chile takes place here at O'Higgins Park April 2-3, it will mark a big win for local music fans and for the country's hopes to position itself as a vital touring destination.

The festival, Lollapalooza's first outside the United States, will feature Kanye West, the Killers and Jane's Addiction as headliners. Also on the bill are more than 50 other acts, including international stars like the Flaming Lips, the National, 30 Seconds to Mars and Ben Harper, as well as local artists, many of whom have never played at a concert of this size.

"This event forces us to do our best," says Chilean singer/songwriter Francisca Valenzuela, who will perform at the festival. "And it also reflects the thriving circuit of bands and musicians that live in Chile."

Santiago-based promotion company Lotus Producciones signed a licensing deal with Lollapalooza founder/Jane's Addiction frontman Perry Farrell and his partners C3 Presents and William Morris Endeavor for the right to organize the fest for 10 years in Santiago, with an option to revise or renew the deal, according to Lotus director Maximiliano del Rio.

The budget for the inaugural festival is $8 million, backed with the support of major sponsors like Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Adidas, LG and HP. Tickets went on sale in early February and between 40,000 and 50,000 people are expected per day.

The idea of holding Lollapalooza in Chile came about during last year's Coachella festival, when Lotus executives met with Farrell to discuss the possibility of licensing the event outside the United States. Farrell told Chile's La Tercera newspaper in February that he had already been looking for opportunities to establish the Lollapalooza franchise as an international festival and that he was more interested in Latin America than Europe because the latter already hosts many festivals.

After visiting Santiago last October, Farrell was hooked. "It's a sophisticated city, with great hotels and entertainment venues and with a wonderful park against the backdrop of the Andes," he told La Tercera, adding that Chile's relative affluence "makes it easier to develop the Lollapalooza brand and provides a stable platform to extend it elsewhere."

Del Rio says Lollapalooza's spirit as an alternative music event made Santiago an attractive choice versus bigger cities like Buenos Aires or São Paulo. Moreover, the Chilean capital has become an important concert destination commanding the highest average ticket prices in the region, according to a 2008 study at Bernardo O'Higgins University in Santiago.

Lollapalooza has also pushed Chile as a tourist destination. According to del Rio, international visitors have purchased about 5,400 tour packages to travel to Chile for the music fest. And for the first time, major artists who only visited Santiago as an afterthought to playing Brazil and Argentina will now make it their only Latin American stop.

"All this growth illustrates how solid the market in Chile is," del Rio says, "and that it is fertile soil for musical events."