The industry-wide move to pause or outright cancel music festivals and individual artist tours, of course, was an inarguably necessary step as COVID-19 started to take (and maintain) a hold across the States and beyond. And while initial optimism during the early days of the pandemic era had some convinced that shows would come back with a vengeance as soon as late 2020 or even early 2021, such optimism was fairly quickly put out to pasture.
With the one-year anniversary of COVID-19 being formally declared a global pandemic now getting farther and farther in the rearview, however, several festival organizers have stepped up with plans for artists to return to the stage later this year.
In early March, for example, the team behind the (usually annual) three-day Life Is Beautiful Music & Art Festival announced a planned return for this fall. But the weight of doing such a thing isn’t lost on organizers.
“As we prepare to produce the 2021 festival, we feel a heightened sense of responsibility to our staff, partners, performers, and attendees, and continue to work closely with local and state officials to ensure a safe return to live music,” Lauren DelFrago, Festival Director of Life is Beautiful, told Complex via email.
Over the past year, a number of forward-thinking artists have stepped up with relief for show-starved fans by crafting live virtual experiences of varying formats. While some have stuck to one-off tour-emulating specials, like Justin Bieber’s NYE stream, others—ranging from The Weeknd’s augmented reality take to more intimate productions like punk band MXPX’s practice space sessions—have elected to experiment with a format that may very well remain a fixture in the industry even post-pandemic.
Still, it’s nice to see a glimpse of light at the end of the proverbial tunnel regarding the eventual restart of in-person shows of all sizes.
Below, we’ll be keeping up a continually updated list of notable music festivals slated for a 2021 return.