Organizers of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival have cancelled this year’s event due to the latest surge in COVID-19 cases in the region.
In a statement on the festival’s website, the organizers said they made the decision based on “recent exponential growth of new COVID cases in New Orleans and the region and the ongoing public health emergency.”
The event commonly known as “Jazz Fest” is traditionally held over the last weekend of April and the first weekend of May. After the event was cancelled in 2020, organizers had hoped to hold the event in October. But as deadlines for guaranteeing acts and building the festival site were approaching, they had to make an immediate decision.
In the first 50 years of Jazz Fest, which began in 1970, the event had never been cancelled. While featuring big name international stars such as the Rolling Stones and Jimmy Buffett, the event also celebrates the indigenous music and culture of New Orleans and Louisiana, featuring nearly every music style imaginable: blues, R&B, gospel, Cajun, Zydeco, Afro-Caribbean, folk, Latin, rock, rap, contemporary and traditional jazz, country, bluegrass and others.
The festival is now scheduled to return to its usual spring dates in 2022, three years after it was last held.
While a disappointment to music fans, cancellation of Jazz Fest is also a setback for the economic recovery of New Orleans, a city that relies heavily on tourism. Officials from the area’s hospitality industry told NOLA.com hotels in the city had been nearly totally booked for the two weeks of the festival.
The city had attempted to return to normal in recent months, with popular local music venues requiring proof of vaccination to enter. But the recent COVID-19 surge, driven largely by the highly contagious delta variant, have forced many of those venues to cancel concerts through August.
(Some information in this report came from the Associated Press.)