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Essence Fest 2020 Canceled Amid Coronavirus Concerns

Pharrell Williams
Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Pharrell Williams performs in concert during 2019 ESSENCE Festival at Louisiana Superdome on July 7, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

All tickets sold for the 2020 Festival will be honored in 2021; full refunds also being offered.

UPDATE: Initially rescheduled from its original July 2020 dates to later in the fall, the 2020 Essence Festival of Culture is now officially canceled and will return in 2021. The cancellation was announced Wednesday (April 15) following New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s recommendation that “no large events take place in New Orleans in 2020” owing to the coronavirus pandemic. Essence will honor all tickets sold for the 2020 festival in 2021 and will also offer full refunds. Ticket holders can visit essencefestival.com for further information. The company also announced the establishment of the Essence Benefit Series to Fight COVID-19 that will raise money and provide support for businesses and organizations in black communities across the country. And the first-ever Essence Festival of Culture: The Virtual Edition will take place over July 4 weekend. 

Late last month, Essence began providing resources and other tools to black communities impacted by the pandemic through its Essence of the Matter: COVID-19’s Impact on Black America digital platform. The platform’s next session, the Essence & New Voices Entrepreneur Summit, will take place on April 24.

Original story: After initially stating March 13 that it planned to move forward with its scheduled July 1-5 dates in New Orleans, Essence Fest 2020 announced late Friday (March 27) that it will move "closer to the fall" instead, given the heightened concerns around the coronavirus.

"Based on developments over the past couple of weeks, including updates from our city and health partners, we are officially announcing that we will move the 2020 ESSENCE Festival of Culture closer to the fall," reads a tweet from the event's account sent out just before 10 p.m. ET Friday.

Bruno Mars and Janet Jackson are set to headline the festival, though it remains to be seen whether the lineup will stay the same as the dates move around. In addition to Mars and Jackson, the 2020 Essence lineup includes Janelle Monae, Raphael Saadiq, Ari Lennox and Summer Walker.

Read the fest's full statement below, and stay tuned to Billboard.com and the Essence Fest website for updates.

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