Working from home? Switch to the DIGITAL edition of Projection, Lights & Staging News. CLICK HERE to signup now!
Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in posts
Search in pages

2020’s Festival Season: The Uncertain Path from Spring to Summer and Fall

PLSN Staff • News • May 28, 2020

LAS VEGAS – March Madness took on a whole new meaning for the live music industry this year as organizers for spring and summer festival events had to figure out whether it made more sense to postpone their gatherings for later dates in the year or cancel their 2020 gigs outright and stake their hopes on a rebound in 2021.

One of the first major U.S. festivals to be upended was the Ultra Music Festival in Miami. Set for March 20-22, it was postponed to 2021 on March 4. Two days later, Austin, TX canceled the SXSW festival that had been scheduled to run from March 13-22.

Organizers of Glastonbury in the U.K., who had been prepping for their 50th annual event with headliners Taylor Swift, Paul McCartney and Kendrick Lamar June 24-28, also pulled the plug with an announcement on March 18. And by April 10, organizers of Burning Man notified spectators and participants that their event, set for Aug. 30-Sept. 7, would move from the Nevada desert to cyberspace in 2020.

By late May, as the Covid-19 pandemic crossed the threshold of 100,000 deaths in the U.S., festival goers where waiting and watching to see what would happen to the big gigs where organizers hoped to salvage 2020 by postponing their shows for several months.

On March 10, Goldenvoice and AEG Presents announced that Coachella 2020, set for April 10-12 and 17-19, would move to Oct. 9-11 and 16-18, with the Stagecoach festival also shifting from spring to fall dates. In mid-March, organizers of Bonnaroo also shifted their event, from June to September. On March 23, Summerfest also rescheduled, from an 11-day run starting June 24 to Sept. 3-5, 10-12 and 17-19. And on April 3, organizers for the Electric Daisy Carnival’s flagship Las Vegas event pushed their dates back from May 15-17 to Oct. 2-4.

As it has been from the start, however, pandemic uncertainty prevails, with optimists hoping for a combination of relaxed social distancing guidelines and warm-weather declines in new infections and deaths, while skeptics point out persisting dangers posed as the total number of infected Americans pushes past the 1.75 million mark.

Much will be revealed by mid- to late-June, when the consequences of eased restrictions over Memorial Day weekend become apparent. But on May 27, Bloomberg reported that the organizers of Coachella had already begun asking artists slated to perform in this year’s event if they would instead be able to perform in 2021, stoking fears that the festival might not proceed as planned this year, even at the postponed dates.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this posting included incorrect dates for Bonnaroo 2020. PLSN regrets the error.

The Latest News and Gear in Your Inbox - Sign Up Today!