After months of speculation amid an intensifying coronavirus pandemic, this year’s Austin City Limits Music Festival has been canceled, concert promoter C3 Presents announced Wednesday.
The festival was scheduled to take place over two weekends, Oct. 2-4 and Oct. 9-11, at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas.
“We would have loved to put on another memorable show this year, however, with the uncertainty surrounding the current situation in Texas, this decision is the only responsible solution. The health and safety of our fans, artists, partners, staff and the entire Austin community remains our highest priority,” festival organizers wrote in an announcement posted to social media and shared with the Austin American-Statesman, part of the USA TODAY Network.
Staying Apart, Together:A newsletter about how to cope with the coronavirus pandemic
This year’s fest would have been the 19th edition of the annual event, which began in 2002 and expanded to two weekends in 2013. ACL Fest typically has drawn crowds of around 75,000 people daily to the park each weekend. It’s become a tour destination for major musical headliners like Paul McCartney, Drake, Cardi B, Foo Fighters and many more in recent years, as well as a crowd-drawing showcase for breakout stars like Lizzo and Lorde.
Organizers said in the announcement that they plan to return the festival to Zilker Park on Oct. 1-3 and 8-10, 2021. They went on to encourage fans who have already purchased tickets to “hold on to them to lock in access to next year’s festival at 2019 prices.”
ACL Festival is also offering refunds to anyone who purchased directly through the festival and cannot attend next year’s dates. All ticket holders will receive an email from Front Gate Tickets with information on both options.
“Few events are rooted in — and embody — the soul of this city like ACL Festival and their hard decision for the greater good is applauded,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler wrote on Twitter. “While the show won’t go on this year, there are many ways to support local musicians while we all look forward to the 20th Anniversary next year.”
Coronavirus:Kid Rock's bar joins lawsuit against Nashville over COVID-19 restrictions
The likelihood of ACL Fest being canceled appeared to increase in May, when Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott told reporters that “the large events are the first thing that we turned off and are going to be the last thing we’re going to turn back on. ... Looking through the end of December, we don’t have any indications at this stage that we would be able to mitigate risk enough to have large events, particularly ones (with) over 2,500 (attendees).”
According to a report put together by Austin-based Angelou Economics and paid for by ACL Fest, Austin City Limits Music Festival contributed $264.6 million to Austin’s economy in 2018. (Festival organizers have not released an economic impact report for the 2019 festival.) Since 2006, the festival has generated nearly $2 billion for Austin’s economy, the equivalent of creating or retaining 21,500 jobs for Austin employees, according to the report. The sectors of the economy that experienced the biggest impact from ACL Fest were bars and restaurants followed by hotels.
The news delivers a hard blow to those industries that were already reeling from the March cancellation of the South by Southwest Conference and Festivals and other pandemic-related live enterainment shutdowns this spring. A report commissioned by SXSW in 2019 pegged the total economic impact of the festival at about $356 million last year.