Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella
Planning summer trips and making plans requires a lot of effort and time. This year, summer festivals — many of which people travel out of state for and take vacation time to attend — are being rescheduled or canceled altogether. So what do you do when your plans are unraveling in the wake of the coronavirus? Here’s what you need to know if you’ve already purchased tickets as well as how to create a memorable at-home experience.
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As COVID-19 continues to spread in the U.S., major festival dates like those for Coachella, VidCon 2020 and Bonnaroo have been pushed back to dates later in the year or canceled in order to adhere to safety guidelines. It is a move that will protect festival-goers and keep performers and workers safe.
Although the projected peak date for coronavirus cases is in April, it is important that social distancing measures continue to stay in place. This is because people who carry the virus can still spread it to a susceptible person even if the peak has happened. Going back to regularly scheduled plans and discontinuing social distancing all at once could cause the virus to surge again.
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It’s true — festivals are outdoors and open to fresh air. While getting some sunshine and spending time outdoors is important, the crowds that come with festivals pose a risk at this time. Going outside is OK. Going outside to stand in close contact with people is not OK.
If the festival you were going to attend has rescheduled for different dates, it’s important to make sure those changes are reflected on your calendar. Check your airline’s website to reschedule your flight to the new date, change the dates on your hotel reservation and make sure you can get the new dates off work if you need to take vacation days.
You were looking forward to the exciting events you purchased tickets for months in advance. Then you get an email that explains why the dates had to be rescheduled, but you are busy and have a conflict with the new dates. If you can’t attend the new dates, check the festival’s policy on purchased tickets or call the number listed for ticket purchases.
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For those who had hoped to attend a festival that has been canceled, be sure to check your emails or the festival’s website for updates. The film portion of South by Southwest (SXSW), for example, has teamed with Amazon Prime to provide free 10-day access to the 2020 film festival collection, so you can still tune in. If you bought a badge to attend SXSW, you can defer the badge to 2021, 2022 or 2023.
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If festival planners sent out an email saying the event has been canceled but the message didn’t mention refunds, first be sure to check to see if any benefits were offered. Some canceled festivals might offer to honor your 2020 ticket purchase at a future festival. If you can’t find this information in any emails or online, contact the number listed for ticket help on the festival’s website.
Not all festivals have been canceled. Many summer dates have been rescheduled for later in the summer or fall. This is to prevent travelers from getting sick. Chances are, if you already bought your ticket, the festival planners have sent you an email to keep you updated on necessary changes. Not all hope is lost, the fun might just happen at a later, safer time.
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Traveling has changed drastically during the coronavirus pandemic. United Airlines, Southwest and American Airlines all have made their policies more flexible during this time — they have extended dates and offer tips on how to change or cancel your flight plans. If you’ve already purchased a flight ticket, check with your airline provider on whether or not you can get a refund, change your flight or get your change fee waived.
Many hotels, such as those under the Hilton and Marriott umbrellas, are offering more lenient cancellation policies for their guests. This includes reservations that were previously non-cancellable.
If you’ve rented an Airbnb, check with your host about cancellations or check updates on Airbnb’s website. Right now, for example, guests who made reservations after March 14 will not be covered by an extenuating circumstances policy unless the guest is sick with coronavirus.
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Keep your email inbox clean so you don’t miss any emails from the festival planners. Because coronavirus is a growing and changing pandemic, each week could bring new news or changes for the festival. The emails might contain information on rescheduled dates, cancellations or ticket policies. You also have to keep in mind that this might just not be your year and start preparing for some festival-related fun at home.
Just as fitness instructors have turned to social media to live-stream workouts, some artists have been live-streaming concerts right from their homes. Follow your favorites on social media to watch their home recordings or to find out when they’ll be doing a live session.
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Sometimes, half the fun of a festival is the camping experience that comes with it. Pitch a tent in the backyard, grill up some burgers and take in the great outdoors right from your own lawn.
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For the musically talented, bust out your instruments and make your own concert to stream — or keep among close friends and family. To keep up with social distancing measures, have each friend with an instrument record their part of each song you all choose and then edit the audio together. You could even turn the experience into a small act of kindness by playing your music outdoors for elderly neighbors who can’t leave home yet.
Thinking about the fun that will be missed due to a rescheduled or canceled event might bring you down. Reminisce on happy memories from past concerts by starting a new hobby, like scrapbooking. Put together an album of all the photos you took from past experiences. Add things like wristbands, maps of the grounds or other souvenirs you brought back.
Whip up your favorite snacks and get comfortable. If you’ve purchased tickets for a concert that got canceled, use the time to binge on biopics, concert films, musicals or documentaries featuring your favorite artists. Sing along and watch with friends online to make up for the missed experience.
You might not be able to experience the magic of a film festival in person this summer, but you can definitely recreate one at home. Make a list of all your favorite documentaries and movies from past festivals and rewatch them from the comfort of your living room. Watch them at the same time as friends and family or turn it into a virtual date night.
Festivals are often a means of bringing the communities around them together. Just because some festivals can’t be held in person doesn’t mean communities can’t still come together. Change things up this year by supporting the artists, creators and directors involved by streaming online. For example, the Tribeca Film Festival and the Greenwich International Film Festival will be held online this year.
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Going from vendor to vendor while noshing on all types of culinary treats may be the ideal festival for many people, but to keep in line with social distancing practices, food festivals may be rescheduled for a later date or canceled. If that’s the case, create a menu, ask your friends to cook the foods and snacks at home and have a virtual tasting to make up for the missed event. Cooking together is one of the best ways to keep in touch during the pandemic.
You may not be able to browse shelf upon shelf of new paperbacks and old hardcover spines, but you can have a lit fest at home. If the literary festival you attend every year gets canceled or if the dates change — make due by ordering books online and having a social-distance-friendly book club. Use this makeshift festival as a time to reconnect with friends you would have met up with, but do so via FaceTime or Zoom.
You can also search the internet for online readings or poetry performances. Check if your favorite literary magazine posts audio readings as part of its blog, search social media for writers who might host Instagram Lives and visit sites such as the Poetry Foundation, which has audio versions of poems. Curl up with a cup of homemade coffee and enjoy this novel experience.
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Although doing push-ups might not be as fun as swaying to music, and eating sardines to boost vitamin D might not boost your mood as much as fried chicken at a campground, now is the time to focus on your health. After all, festivals have been postponed with the intention of preserving your well-being.
Yes, it’s frustrating when plans get changed, but it’s important to look for a silver lining. Concerts and festivals and outdoor activities aren’t ending for good. They’re being modified for the good of your health. Take this time to appreciate the goodness are you and take comfort in knowing there’s always next year.
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Sometimes, purchasing tickets to big summer concerts is just one part of your vacation itinerary. You may have even already received your refund or planned around the new date, but what about the rest of the trip you had planned? Here are all your coronavirus travel questions, answered.
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