The Current State of Music Festivals

By Jake Pearcy, Design Editor–

As students at UTC return to classes for this spring semester, the students that enjoy going to concerts and music festivals would typically be drawing up their game plan for which festivals and shows they would plan on attending during the upcoming year. As we all know, events such as those aren’t looking very realistic in the short term. Fortunately, as the vaccination process continues to develop across the country, there seems to be a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel.  

For those of us that are eager to be back in the music scene, I wanted to take a moment to point out which music festivals have announced that their respective festivals are still set to take place in 2021. I also want to discuss the festivals that are still up in the air as well as which festivals have been postponed for a later date.  

As a Tennessean, I feel like the appropriate place to begin would be with the festivals that usually take place in Tennessee. The state’s most popular festival, Bonnaroo, has been postponed until Labor Day weekend (September 2-5, 2021) in place of its usual June date. Over the past year, the festival’s social media account has maintained a low profile, but it has published a number of posts suggesting that its September date will remain firm. As for the lineup for the 2021 event, many speculate that it will predominantly remain the same as the original 2020 lineup outside of a few changes due to new scheduling conflicts and other unforeseen issues.  

Also hosted in Tennessee, the Beale Street Music Festival that usually takes place in Memphis, TN has been cancelled for the 2021 calendar year. Smaller music festivals that take place in Nashville, TN such as Deep Tropics and Breakaway Music Festival have each stated that they intend on returning in the year 2021, although they have not confirmed dates.  

Outside of Tennessee, we have begun to see a few music festivals announce cancellations for the year 2021. One of Florida’s most popular festivals, Ultra Music Festival, just recently cancelled its event that would usually take place in Miami. Other festivals such as Sweetwater 420 Festival in Atlanta and Buku Music Fest in New Orleans have also recently cancelled their 2021 event.  

Although these cancellations may seem grim as we start the year, keep in mind that these festivals were originally scheduled to take place in the spring, but it seems that large events aren’t going to be taking place in the next 3-6 months due to the high number of the Coronavirus cases coupled with the timing of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.  

For the festivals that would usually be taking place on the tail end of that 3-6 month time frame, we have seen many organizers postpone their events to later in the year in hopes that the general public will be vaccinated.

For example, the Rothbury City Council has reserved several possible dates in June and August for Electric Forest to take place in Michigan. The Governors Ball and Electric Zoo festivals in New York City have also recently announced rescheduled dates in September. 

Given all of the information we have so far, it seems that the September to October timeframe seems to be a more likely time to safely host these events. Whether or not they will require attendees to be vaccinated is yet to be announced by festival organizers. It seems likely that other COVID precautions such as mask wearing will be strongly encouraged, if not required for attendance.  

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