New Orleans’ Essence Festival has been called off due to the coronavirus pandemic. Organizers made the call to cancel following a recommendation from New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell the city not hold large gatherings this year as the virus takes its toll.
The 2020 edition of Essence Festival was originally set for July 1-5 with superstar headliners Bruno Mars and Janet Jackson. It was postponed last month with organizers revealing that the new dates would be closer to the fall. Now, the event will set its sights on returning in 2021.
“ESSENCE and the City of New Orleans have a partnership that thrives in good times and is made even stronger in challenging times,” Mayor Cantrell said in a statement. “We share an uncompromised commitment to the best interest of our local community and our tourist community, and the priorities right now are providing support to those who have been affected by the disproportionate impact of the pandemic here in New Orleans and ensuring a safe and healthy environment for all. We look forward to welcoming everyone back to our great city in 2021 for the return of the ESSENCE Festival of Culture and to once again helping to create such an unmatched and magical experience.”
While Essence Fest will not be able to take place physically, ESSENCE Magazine is moving forward with a virtual edition of the event. Fans and would-be festivalgoers are invited to stream ESSENCE Festival of Culture: The Virtual Edition throughout the July Fourth weekend to celebrate the strides of African American women and the city of New Orleans as a whole.
“This Festival experience will be extended to communities around the world like never before, with unfettered access to the power, purpose and party that has made the ESSENCE Festival the largest cultural, entertainment and empowerment experience in the world,” reads an official statement. “Women across the globe and their families will engage in interactive, live opportunities to be inspired, empowered, entertained and transformed as they enter a new economic, spiritual and wellness journey ahead.”
As the country grapples with the virus, which has disproportionately impacted the African American community, ESSENCE launched a benefit series to raise money to support businesses in black communities, as well as offer resources about the virus to raise awareness and prevent the spread.