The CMA Festival, the world’s largest country music gathering, has been canceled for 2020, rather than trying to push the mass gathering set for June in Nashville to a later date in the year.
For passholders, the festival is offering a choice of refunds or credits toward the 2021 CMA Fest.
It was to have taken place June 4-7, with free outdoor concerts each day throughout downtown Nashville capped by sold-out nightly shows at Nissan Stadium. The festival would have celebrated its 49th year this year.
“After careful deliberation, and in following the latest guidance from national, state and local authorities, we are sad to announce that CMA Fest will not take place in 2020,” a statement from the Country Music Association read. “Whether you planned to attend CMA Fest for the first time, or you have attended many times throughout the last 48 years, we know how special this festival is for country music fans around the globe and that many will be disappointed by this decision. As the world is still greatly affected by the spread of COVID-19, we cannot in good conscience risk the health and wellbeing of our fans, artists, staff and Country Music community.”
Headliners had not yet been announced. The stadium shows are filmed each year and edited down into a prime-time network special that typically airs in September. The CMA Festival is an outgrowth of the more humble Fan Fair that began in 1972 and eventually became the foremost mecca for global fans of country music each year. Now, an estimated 80,000 visitors come to see more than 300 artists perform.
The festival typically takes place on either the same weekend as or an adjacent weekend to Bonnaroo, downstate in Tennessee, which results in a massive influx of visitors to the state at roughly the same time in June. Two weeks ago, Bonnaroo, scheduled for June 11-14, announced it was postponing its gathering to Sept. 24-27, although whether music festivals will be resuming by then remains an open question as the current pandemic continues to worsen.
The CMA’s statement said, “We will honor four-day passes purchased for this year’s event for CMA Fest 2021. However, if you prefer a full refund, we will provide one upon request if your passes were purchased through Ticketmaster or the CMA Fest Box Office. Those who purchased passes through non-official channels should contact the seller directly. Within the next 24-48 hours, all four-day pass purchasers will receive an email with further instructions.
“We greatly appreciate your understanding and patience, as our actions are always in the best interest of our country music community. In the coming weeks and months, we will continue to bring country fans and artists together to celebrate the unique spirit and sense of unity that is at the heart of what CMA Fest stands for. We will also share information about future CMA events and ways to support those within our community affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The announcement concluded by announcing the dates for 2021 — June 10-13 — and asked fans to “please keep yourself and your loved ones healthy and safe.”
Nashville tourism has been hit hard, as has every city’s, by the coronavirus pandemic. The Grand Ole Opry, instead of offering several shows a weekend, is now keeping its traditional Saturday night broadcast but without an audience and with a handful of acoustic performers and crew.