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Music

It’s official: Coachella has been postponed until October

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival has been rescheduled for the weekends of Oct. 9 and Oct. 16, due to coronavirus concerns.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

After weeks of nervous speculation, it’s official: The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is postponed due to the growing threat of coronavirus.

Concert promoter Goldenvoice announced that the annual concert, held at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, now will take place on the weekends of Oct. 9 and 16. It was originally scheduled to begin on April 10.

Goldenvoice also announced that the country music festival Stagecoach, scheduled for April 24-26 on those same Empire polo grounds, will be postponed until Oct. 23-25.

“At the direction of the County of Riverside and local health authorities,” Goldenvoice’s statement read, “we must sadly confirm the rescheduling of Coachella and Stagecoach due to COVID-19 concerns. While this decision comes at a time of universal uncertainty, we take the safety and health of our guests, staff and community very seriously. We urge everyone to follow the guidelines and protocols put forth by public health officials.

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“Coachella will now take place on Oct. 9, 10 and 11 and Oct. 16, 17 and 18, 2020. Stagecoach will take place on Oct. 23, 24 and 25, 2020. All purchases for the April dates will be honored for the rescheduled October dates. Purchasers will be notified by Friday, March 13, on how to obtain a refund if they are unable to attend.

“Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to seeing you in the desert this fall.”

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Coachella hopes to feature most of the same acts that were originally slated for April, including headliners Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott and Frank Ocean. It was expected to draw 250,000 fans over its two weekends to see more than 150 acts.

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The postponements follow SXSW’s announcement on Friday that the city of Austin had pulled the plug on its March series of music, media and film conferences. On Sunday, organizers for the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, not far from Indio, canceled the annual tennis tournament after the Riverside County Public Health Department confirmed the first local case of coronavirus and declared a public health emergency.

Days later, three new cases were announced in Riverside County.

In Indio and Palm Springs, residents fear not only the spread of coronavirus from the influx of fans for the Coachella festival, but the loss in revenue as well.

Last week, Palm Springs resident Barbara Cooper expressed her concern over festival-goers swarming her town.

“I just came from Sonoma, where they had people quarantined. People aren’t usually held in isolation for something like the flu,” said Cooper, 69. She worked most of her life as a registered nurse and knows firsthand how scary such a disease can be. Coronavirus is especially dangerous for the elderly, and in a retirement town where the median age is around 53, that’s a concern.

Long considered the kickoff to the spring and summer concert season, Coachella and Stagecoach have pumped both cultural and commercial energy into the Southern California music scene for 21 years. Palm Springs-area merchants work the April festival windfalls into their budgets. Thousands of temporary workers relocate to the area to serve the 250,000 festival attendees, who inject well over $700 million into the region’s economy.

While thus far coronavirus has mostly forced concert cancellations overseas, concern grows that U.S. music festivals and large-scale gatherings may be susceptible.

The postponement by Goldenvoice is the latest in a series of disruptions related to the coronavirus’ spread. In addition to the cancellation of SXSW, the Ultra Music Festival in Miami postponed its annual electronic music showcase earlier this month. On Monday, rock band Pearl Jam postponed the North American leg of its upcoming tour.

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The fate of Coachella was being watched closely by the promoters of the season’s other major outdoor music festivals, including the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Electric Daisy Carnival, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza.

Staff writer Randall Roberts provided additional reporting.


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