For the first time in its 53 years of existence, Milwaukee’s Summerfest, the largest music festival in the U.S. by attendance, has been canceled. The annual event, which was set to host the likes of Justin Bieber, Guns ‘N Roses, and Chris Stapleton this year, was previously moved from June to September due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Organizers cite “ongoing uncertainty surrounding large gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic” for the cancellation. “[W]e cannot in good conscience proceed with the festival this year,” reads a statement from Don Smiley, President & CEO of Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. “The immediate future presents multiple levels of risk for our fans, and we choose the side of safety.”
The cancellation hits extra hard in a year when the festival was set to coincide with the grand reopening of the American Family Insurance Amphitheater after a $53 million renovation. Despite the massive financial loss—Smiley says the event brings in $186 annually to the city—plans are still on for next year, and tickets for this year’s festival can be redeemed for 2021. Refunds are also available here through July 17.
In March, following the cancellation of SXSW, Coachella announced it would postpone until October. It’s still on as of now, but it’s looking more and more likely that live music, at least on a festival-sized scale, isn’t something we’ll be enjoying any time soon.