Essence Festival 2020 in New Orleans Canceled Due to Coronavirus Pandemic

The annual event was set to take place in New Orleans July 1-5 with performances from Janet Jackson, Bruno Mars, and Janelle Monáe

Essence Festival
Photo: Amy Harris/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

The 2020 ESSENCE Festival of Culture has become the latest music festival canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell bravely recommended yesterday that no large events take place in New Orleans in 2020, and ESSENCE fully supports that decision,” the organization said in a statement Wednesday.

The festival, which is a celebration of global black culture that attracts more than 500,000 people each year, had been set to take place in New Orleans July 1-5. Among those scheduled to perform included Janet Jackson, Bruno Mars, and Janelle Monáe.

The organization said that refunds will be issued for all tickets sold for the 2020 festival. Next year’s festival is set to take place as scheduled.

Officials also announced the first-ever ESSENCE Festival of Culture: The Virtual Edition, which will be hosted on the ESSENCE Studios streaming platform over July 4th weekend.

The virtual festival “will extend the experience to communities everywhere providing unfettered access to the power, purpose and party that has made the ESSENCE Festival the largest cultural, entertainment and empowerment experience in the world,” the organization said.

The virtual festival will serve as benefit celebration in honor and support of New Orleans, where the event has been held every year since 1995, except for 2006 due to Hurricane Katrina.

Essence Festival
Josh Brasted/FilmMagic

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, nearly every major festival taking place in the near future has been postponed or canceled entirely.

Ultra Music Festival in Miami, Coachella Music Festival and Stagecoach have all been postponed, while SXSW Festival, the March Madness Musical Festival, CMA Fest 2020 and Glastonbury 2020 Festival have been canceled.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.

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