Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival organizers canceled the 2020 edition of the event due to the coronavirus pandemic. The event, held in Manchester, Tennessee, usually takes place in the summer but was already postponed to Sept. 24-27. On Thursday, organizers said the festival will not take place at all, but there will be a "virtual festival" on the same September dates, with more details to be announced later.
Organizers said the event was canceled "out of an abundance of caution and for the health and safety of all Bonnaroovians, artists, staff, partners and our community" and called the move a "necessary reality." The 2021 event was also scheduled for June 17-20, 2021, to celebrate the festival's 20th anniversary. If you have a 2020 ticket, you will be able to get a refund between July 1 and July 31. Ticketholders can hold on to the tickets for Bonnaroo 2021, though, and no action is required. Customers who keep the tickets for 2021 will also have access to the virtual event. More details on the refund process are available on the Bonnaroo website.
There was optimism in the music industry for concerts and festivals to resume this fall, primarily since many artists' livelihoods depend on performing live. However, the ongoing rise in coronavirus cases in the U.S. have made it clear that holding a significant event like a festival could be dangerous. There are now over 2.45 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. since the pandemic began and over 124,800 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. On Friday, the Tennessee Department of Health reported an additional 1,410 cases of COVID-19, a new single-day record. There have been 577 deaths from the coronavirus in the state.
In April, epidemiologist George Rutherford told Rolling Stone it might not be safe to hold concerts until at least 90 percent of the population is immunized. "I realize tons of people make their living doing this stuff, but I see [concerts] as pretty far down the list [in terms of opening events back up]; we'' ve got to get the schools going first," Rutherford explained to the magazine. "Just because we get through this shelter-in-place doesn't mean everything's magically back to normal."
Other festivals have been forced to cancel, including SXSW in Austin, Texas, and Ultra Festival in Miami. Coachella found itself in a similar situation to Bonnaroo, as organizers moved the event from April to October. Earlier this month, Coachella canceled the 2020 event and scheduled the 2021 event for April 9-11 and April 16-18.