As many expected, Coachella's 2020 event won't be taking place this year on its usual April weekends.
Festival promoter Goldenvoice announced Tuesday evening this year's installment is being pushed to October because of growing concerns around COVID-19, better known as the novel coronavirus.
Goldenvoice said in a statement released tonight the decision was made "at the direction of the County of Riverside and local health authorities," noting both Coachella and its country music sister festival Stagecoach are being delayed until October 9-11 and 16-18 for Coachella and then October 23-25 for Stagecoach.
Speculation had increased over the past couple of weeks, especially after SXSW in Austin scrapped its entire mega-conference and festival, resulting in nearly one-third of the fest's year-round staff being laid off almost immediately. Miami's Ultra Music Festival, one of the country's largest EDM events, has also "postponed" its event until next year.
Coachella seems to be trying to keep the majority of its lineup in tact and, while stating all passes for the original April dates will be honored in October, is also offering refunds to those who can't attend the rescheduled dates, unlike SXSW and Ultra, both of which are holding firm on their no-refund policy.
Word of Coachella's October move first surfaced on Monday, with Goldenvoice reportedly aiming to at least keep its top tier of performers in place. Among this year's initial lineup were Frank Ocean, Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott, Lana Del Rey, Lil Uzi Vert, Run the Jewels, Thom Yorke, Lil Nas X and others.
Interestingly, Coachella's website no longer features the 2020 lineup on its homepage. The list of performers originally announced in January are still listed on the lineup page, however it's unclear how many of those acts will remain on the final roster.
As some have pointed out, the first weekend of Coachella's new October dates is now the same as the second weekend of Austin City Limits Music Festival, which may present some conflicts for booking the lineups for the fests, both of which are likely grappling with the challenges COVID-19 has presented and the hope that the situation may or may not improve by the fall.
Coachella's decision to delay is sure to spook other upcoming festivals, many of which are not the behemoths like that of SXSW and Coachella. New Orleans Jazz Fest is supposed to start at the end of April, and the city has already scrapped a number of big events.
Other festivals in May include Shaky Boots in Atlanta; Pitchfork Music Festival in Berlin, Germany; Rolling Loud in Miami; Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas; Hangout Music Festival in Gulf Shores, Alabama; Lightning in a Bottle in Bakersfield, California; Boston Calling in Cambridge, Massachusetts; BottleRock in Napa, California; and Roots Picnic in Philadelphia.
After May, big-name fests like Bonnaroo and Firefly are set to kick off in June, with numerous others to follow. But the existing shakeups are likely forcing others to analyze their own risks even if the event isn't for a few months. For instance, Lollapalooza in Chicago is one the country's largest festivals. And while it's not until the end of July, the lineup is typically announced in late March, which is only days away.
For New Orleans Jazz Fest, it seems organizers are taking an optimistic approach. They were set to have a conference call on Tuesday and so far it appears they are making no plans to cancel.
As some are quickly realizing, cancelling even one year of a major festival could be detrimental to an event's financial situation, even for a fest as big as SXSW, whose CEO confirmed this week their insurance policy doesn't include disease or viral outbreak emergencies, leaving SXSW's immediate future as well as its 2021 plans up in the air.