CMA Fest was canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, but fans at home will still be able to relive festival performances from years past thanks to a new special that will air next month. On Thursday, July 9, Bryan will host CMA Best of the Fest, a three-hour special that will look back at unforgettable CMA Fest performances from years past plus a brand-new performance from Bryan and Darius Rucker. The broadcast will air at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
Artists appearing in the special include Trace Adkins, Lauren Alaina, Jason Aldean, Kelsea Ballerini, Dierks Bentley, Garth Brooks, Brooks & Dunn, Brothers Osborne, Kane Brown, Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Luke Combs, Billy Ray Cyrus, Dan + Shay, Lzzy Hale, Sam Hunt, Joan Jett, Lady A, Miranda Lambert, Lil Nas X, Little Big Town, Tim McGraw, Maren Morris, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Thomas Rhett, Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Dwight Yoakam and Zac Brown Band. The broadcast will also include special appearances by Bobby Bones, Jim Gaffigan, Kirk Herbstreit, Peyton Manning, Lionel Richie, Rob Riggle, Gwen Stefani, Michael Strahan and Rita Wilson.
On Wednesday, July 1, Lindsay Ell and Jimmie Allen will host CMA Summer Stay-Cay presented by Budweiser Nitro Gold, an multi-hour live stream variety event that will feature over 50 artists performing, participating in Q&As, games and more. The broadcast will air on CMA’s YouTube channel and Facebook page. CMA Fest typically takes place in Nashville on the first weekend in June and is followed by a television special that airs on ABC in August recapping the four nights of shows at Nissan Stadium, which often include the biggest names in country music as well as some special guests. For the past several years, the nightly shows and television special have been hosted by Rhett and Ballerini. This year's festival was scheduled to take place from June 4-7 in Nashville.
"After careful deliberation, and in following the latest guidance from national, state and local authorities, we are sad to announce that CMA Fest will not take place in 2020," a statement on the festival's website shared in March. "Whether you planned to attend CMA Fest for the first time, or you have attended many times throughout the last 48 years, we know how special this festival is for Country Music fans around the globe and that many will be disappointed by this decision. As the world is still greatly affected by the spread of COVID-19, we cannot in good conscience risk the health and well-being of our fans, artists, staff and Country Music community."