Coachella music festival pushed to October due to coronavirus

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Sunset during Coachella 2014, with the balloon chain and Lightweaver art installation visible. Photo credit: Alan Paone.

Just days after Austin’s South by Southwest conference was cancelled due to concerns over the coronavirus, concert promoters Goldenvoice have announced that next month’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California has been rescheduled to the weekends of October 9-11 and 16-18. The AEG-owned promoter has also moved the Stagecoach country music festival, which traditionally takes place the weekend after Coachella, to October 23-25. 

“At the direction of the County of Riverside and local health authorities, we must sadly confirm the rescheduling of Coachella and Stagecoach due to COVID-19 concerns,” Goldenvoice said in a statement posted to Coachella’s Twitter account Tuesday afternoon. “While this decision comes at a time of universal uncertainty, we take the safety and health of our guests, staff and community very seriously. We urge everyone to follow the guidelines and protocols put forth by public health officials.” 

The statement also noted that all purchases for the April dates will be honored for the rescheduled October dates, and that purchasers will be notified by Friday, March 13 about how to obtain a refund if they are unable to attend.

Now in its 21st year, the Southern California megafest was scheduled to take place over the weekends of April 10-12 and 17-19, with a newly reunited Rage Against the Machine set to headline alongside Frank Ocean and Travis Scott. The event draws an estimated 250,000 attendees each year, and along with Stagecoach, brings in about $1.4 billion in profits annually. 

Concerns that officials in Riverside County, where Coachella and Stagecoach take place, would have to pull the festivals’ event permits began mounting over the weekend. This was after the region announced its first case of COVID-19 on Saturday, with three new cases confirmed on Monday. Rescheduling the U.S.’ premiere music festival is a massive undertaking that involves hundreds of artists and their representatives, as well as vendors, contract workers, and thousands of employees. 

There is no word yet as to whether any changes will be made to the original lineup announced in January. However, Coachella and artist reps will have to navigate touring schedules, contracts, radius clauses and competition from other major festivals in the area, such as the inaugural Primavera Sound Los Angeles in September, and Desert Daze and Camp Flog Gnaw in October. 

Coachella and Stagecoach are the latest music events to be cancelled or rescheduled amidst the growing coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., following SXSW, Ultra Music Festival in Miami, and the industry conference ASCAP Experience in Los Angeles. Madonna, BTS, and Pearl Jam are among a growing list of major artists to cancel or reschedule upcoming tour dates as well. Meanwhile, more than 20,000 music events have been canceled or postponed in China and Hong Kong between January and March, according to the China Association of Performing Arts.