Essence Festival Postponed Amid Coronavirus Concerns

Anita Bennett

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The 2020 Essence Festival of Culture — which was scheduled to take place in New Orleans from July 1-5 — has been postponed due to concerns about the coronavirus outbreak.

On March 10, the festival posted a message on social media announcing it was still selling tickets. But on Friday, March 27, organizers said the event would be postponed.

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“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,” the festival tweeted Friday at 9:37 p.m. ET. “As we previously indicated, we were already moving forward with identifying and securing alternate dates and will be prepared to announce those shortly.”


Bruno Mars and Janet Jackson had been set to headline the festival. Once a new date is scheduled, it’s unclear if the lineup will remain the same.

The festival’s announcement came as New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards both issued statements Friday saying Essence Fest would not move forward as scheduled because of the current “public health crisis.”

“We greatly appreciate the Essence family for working with the City of New Orleans and Louisiana as we face this ongoing public health crisis,” said Edwards. “We have enjoyed a long-standing relationship with the Essence family and look forward to continuing the celebration later this year.”

Earlier in the day, Edwards announced COVID-19 cases in the state had surged.

“Louisiana has experienced the fastest rate of increase for confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world, and it is imperative that everyone in our state take part in the efforts to slow the spread of this disease,” he said in a statement.

According to figures posted Saturday afternoon by the Louisiana Department of Health, there have been 3,315 cases of COVID-19 reported in the state and 137 deaths.

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