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Pokémon GO Fest 2021: What to know about this virtual event

The event typically involves large gatherings, but Niantic has changed the format for the past two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.
/ Source: TODAY

Families who play Pokémon GO and have dreamed of taking their kids to the game's annual live event, Pokémon GO Fest, may have an easier time doing it this year for the second year in a row.

The augmented reality game played via mobile app encourages participants to get out and explore their real-world surroundings by connecting the Pokémon universe to actual local businesses and landmarks.

But in 2020 and again this year, the game's creators are taking the need to travel out of the equation, allowing families to participate in Pokémon GO Fest 2021 right in their own backyards.

Pokemon GO Fest 2021 will take place over the weekend of July 17-18.Niantic

Niantic formerly held Pokémon GO Fest in Chicago and in cities in Germany and Japan, where hundreds of thousands of fans traveled to designated outdoor parks to meet up in person and participate in special in-game challenges. But last year's spread of COVID-19 left the game creators needing a more socially distant way to connect fans.

"While we can’t bring hundreds of thousands of people together in a local park, we can certainly recreate the spirit of what Pokémon GO Fest represents," Niantic said in a 2020 blog post. "We’ve designed (this) event so trainers around the world can go outside to play and celebrate the summer, and do so, of course, while practicing social distancing and being safe."

This year, Niantic is planning limited-capacity in-person Pokémon GO Fest experiences in 22 cities worldwide. The events won't be anywhere near as large as GO Fest 2019 in Chicago, but they will allow people who love the game to come together in outdoor settings. Reigstration is required to keep crowd sizes at reasonable and safe levels.

Families can adventure in their own towns or backyards during the 2021 Pokemon GO Fest event.Niantic

Pokémon GO also is marking its fifth anniversary this year, which brings some additional fun to the popular event.

Tickets for the 2021 event, which will be held over the weekend of July 17-18, are on sale now. A GO Fest ticket, which covers both days of play, normally costs each participant (each mobile device running the event and playing along) $14.99, but in celebration of the game's fifth anniversary, this year's tickets are on sale for $4.99 each. Participants will enjoy new adventures within the app on those days, and will have special projects and assignments to complete, all exclusive to the ticketed event.

Because Pokemon GO turns 5 this year, tickets are on sale for $4.99 for this year's event.Niantic

During past in-person Pokémon GO events, the parks where the events were held were split into various "habitats," where players could complete tasks and catch different Pokémon. For the virtual event, there will be rotating habitats within the app which will change every hour, regardless of the player's geographic location.

Families who want the full Pokémon GO Fest experience will also be able to print a kit of decorations to give their living room or backyard the same decorated vibe of a live event.

Music is also a big part of the 2021 event: Players will help Professor Willow and the team leaders put on a concert by completing special research. Famed character Pikachu will be available in the game as either a pop or rock star, and other Pokémon will appear in special costumes during the event.

Editor's Note: This story was originally published in June 2020 and has been updated for the 2021 event.