Concerts, Music Festivals Won't Return Until Late 2021: Expert


Concerts and music festivals are not likely to happen again until at least the end of 2021, according to U.S. bioethicist Zeke Emanuel.

In a virtual panel discussion transcribed in The New York Times Magazine, Emanuel said he doesn’t understand why promoters are talking about postponing major events to later this year.

“I have no idea how they think that’s a plausible possibility,” he said. “Realistically we’re talking fall 2021 at the earliest.”

While many festivals scheduled for this summer have been outright cancelled (including the UK’s Glastonbury and BTS Hyde Park) others, like California’s Coachella and Stagecoach, have been pushed to October.

MORE: Full Coverage Of COVID-19's Impact On Music

In Canada, a number of events – including Ontario’s Veld and Boots & Hearts and PEI’s Cavendish Beach Music Festival – have not yet announced plans.

On April 9, organizers of Ottawa’s Bluesfest said in a statement: “We are continuing to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic situation. We plan to make a final decision regarding whether the 2020 festival will continue or be postponed/cancelled, the first week of May.” Promoters of Canada Rock Fest, set for Aug. 6 to 8 in Grand Forks, B.C. said online: “We're keeping a close watch of the outbreak – we’re still going ahead as planned.”

But, Emanuel said large gatherings “will be the last to return.”

Organizers of the now-cancelled Quebec Summer Festival, scheduled for July, said they rejected the idea of postponing it until the fall due to several factors, including “the uncertainty surrounding the duration of social distancing measures and the reluctance of many festival goers to take part in crowded events after the crisis.”

Emanuel would agree. “You can’t just flip a switch and open the whole of society up,” he told the Times. “It’s just not going to work. It’s too much.”