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SXSW, Ultra Music Festivals Canceled

PLSN Staff • News • March 6, 2020

The Pearl Harts and other U.K.-based acts performed as part of the British Music Embassy (BME) showcase at SWSX 2019. Photo by Tynesight Photography courtesy Allen & Heath.

AUSTIN, TX and MIAMI – City officials in Austin, TX and, separately, Miami, FL, canceled the 2020 South by Southwest (SXSW) and Ultra Music Festival gatherings that had been set for March 13-22 and March 20, 21 and 22, respectively.

In Austin, where no COVID-19 cases had been confirmed as of March 6, when SXSW was cancelled, the rationale for pulling the plug on a 10-day event that had been expected to draw more than 300,000 into the city from around the world was to help curb the potential spread of coronavirus from the huge crowds attracted by the annual music, film and technology event, which generates a reported $356 million in economic activity.

Ultra Music Festival is also a huge international draw, with daily attendance of 55,000, and organizers had gotten the green light to move the event back to Miami’s Bayfront Park from the more logistically challenging site for the 2019 event on Virginia Key. But by March 4, Miami mayor Francis Suarez and other city officials called for Ultra 2020 to be canceled, and on March 6, they announced that their bid to cancel the event had been approved.

Ultra Music Fest’s organizers, who had been forced to cancel their smaller Road to Ultra event in Abu Dhabi (set for March 5-6) a few days earlier, confirmed that the March 20-22 Ultra Music Fest in Miami would not go on as planned, but would instead be postponed to March 26, 27 and 28, 2021. The organization also pulled the plug on their Road to Ultra India evens scheduled for Hyderabad on March 7 and Delhi on March 8.

The official announcement on ultramusicfestival.com read as follows:

Dear Ultranauts,

It is with a heavy heart that we inform you that The City of Miami has issued an official directive requiring that the 22nd edition of Ultra Music Festival, originally scheduled for March 20, 21 and 22, 2020 will be postponed to March 26, 27 and 28, 2021. Due to the Florida Governor’s declaration of a public health emergency and Centers of Disease Control and Prevention’s Interim Guidance for COVID-19, it is impossible for the City to provide access to Bayfront Park at this time.

We completely understand how extremely frustrating this is because so many of you are looking forward to coming to Ultra, having already made travel arrangements.

This is, however, an unprecedented issue which is not being taken lightly, and we must continue to defer to the authorities for guidance. Ultimately, there is no higher priority for us than the health, safety and physical well-being of each of you, together with everyone else involved in the production of the event.

We sincerely thank you for your continued loyalty and patience during this difficult time.

All ticket purchasers will be contacted by email on Monday [March 9] regarding next steps.

– Team Ultra

Although the Ultra Music Festival was the first major music festival in the U.S. to be disrupted by the spread of COVID-19, an estimated 20,000 events had already been canceled in Asia this year, along with Tomorrowland Winter, a music festival that had been set for March 14-21 at a ski resort in France.

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