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ESSENCE Festival canceled until 2021 due to COVID-19

The cancellation follows Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s call to put a stop to all large events in New Orleans.

Janet Jackson JEFF KRAVITZ/FILMMAGIC

ESSENCE has announced that their annual ESSENCE Festival of Culture has been canceled until next year due to COVID-19.

“After continued monitoring of the evolving developments in the COVID-19 global pandemic and remaining in close contact and collaboration with our partners in the City of New Orleans and State of Louisiana, we are confirming today that we will no longer move forward with the 2020 ESSENCE Festival of Culture live experience – and look forward to returning to New Orleans in 2021,” ESSENCE said in a statement.

The cancellation comes just a day after New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said that she did not expect large events to take place in the city for the remainder of the year.

“My recommendation is absolutely no large events such as French Quarter Fest and Jazz Fest, even ESSENCE Festival, as it relates to the year 2020,” she said. “The focus should shift to 2021.”

Following the event’s official cancellation, Mayor Cantrell released a statement.

“ESSENCE and the City of New Orleans have a partnership that thrives in good times and is made even stronger in challenging times,” she said. “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.”

She continued, “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.”

The event was originally scheduled to take place July 3-5. Janet Jackson and Bruno Mars were set to headline the concert series. ESSENCE is currently issuing refunds for all purchases made for this year’s event. They also plan to host ESSENCE Festival of Culture: The Virtual Edition during July 4th weekend. The multi-day experience will also serve as a benefit celebration to raise money and provide support for businesses and organizations in African-American communities across the country.

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