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Bonnaroo Canceled Because of COVID-19

Festival plotting virtual gathering for September

Bonnaroo has officially called off its 2020 festival, which was rescheduled from June to September, due to ongoing concerns over COVID-19.

Amy Harris/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Bonnaroo 2020 has been canceled because of continued concerns over COVID-19. Back in March, the Manchester, Tennessee, festival moved its regular June dates to September in the hopes that conditions would have improved enough to allow for such a large-scale gathering.

In canceling for 2020, Bonnaroo has scheduled its 2021 dates for June 17th through the 20th. Those with tickets to this year’s event will be able to roll their tickets over to next year’s event, although refunds for tickets and accommodations will also be available. The deadline to request a refund is July 31st, and they will be processed “in as few as 30 days” following that date. Full details are available on the Bonnaroo website.

In lieu of a real festival, however, Bonnaroo did announce that it will host a “virtual festival” September 24th through 27th. Those who roll over their tickets to next year will get access to the virtual festival for free. The virtual gathering will reportedly feature “some of our favorite moments from past and present, along with some special surprises.” Complete information will be made available in the coming months.

While Bonnaroo wasn’t the first festival to postpone or cancel because of COVID-19, at the time it rescheduled to September, it was the first major summer event to alter its plans. Previously, major spring festivals like SXSW and Ultra had been canceled, while the two weekends of Coachella were moved from April back to October. Earlier this month, Coachella canceled its rescheduled dates and announced tentative new ones for April 2021.

While many in the live music industry were optimistic that big concerts and festivals would be able to return in the fall, health experts had long been warning that it was unlikely any such events would take place at all in 2020. In an interview with Rolling Stone in April, one epidemiologist, George Rutherford, said such events wouldn’t be safe until at least 90 percent of the population is immunized, which may not happen until summer 2021.

“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 said. “Just because we get through this shelter-in-place doesn’t mean everything’s magically back to normal.”