Plug finally pulled on Woodstock 50 festival

Singer John Fogerty at the announcement for the Woodstock 50 line-up in MarchImage copyright

Image caption

John Fogerty, who founded Creedence Clearwater Revival and was due to play Woodstock 50, speaks at the announcement of the line-up in March

A huge US event to celebrate 50 years since the Woodstock festival has been cancelled just two weeks before it was due to start.

Organisers blamed a series of “unforeseen setbacks”.

The news will come as little surprise to many, as the proposed venue had already been changed and various artists had dropped out.

Woodstock 50 originally had Jay-Z, The Killers and Miley Cyrus on the bill.

The main investor had first announced its cancellation back in April, but organisers “vehemently denied” the report and pressed on with preparations.

Where did it all go wrong?

Woodstock 50 was first announced in January, as a celebration of half a century since the original New York State event, which had featured the likes of Jimmy Hendrix, The Who and Janice Joplin.

Michael Lang, who was organising the event and co-produced the first Woodstock in 1969, said the revival festival planned to sell 100,000 passes for the 16-18 August event at Watkins Glen, New York State. Ticket prices were not unveiled.

By March, rumours started circling about financial problems.

Nevertheless, an impressive line-up, featuring some of the world’s biggest artists, was released, and organisers said tickets would be on sale on April 22.

That date passed.

A bombshell was dropped around a week later when the chief funder, Dentsu Aegis Network, said the festival had been cancelled, as it could not ensure the “health and safety of the artists, partners and attendees”.

The festival organisers rebutted this announcement and, after a court battle with Dentsu, they found new backers in May.

The following month the festival lost its New York venue, but in July it was announced that it would be taking place in Maryland instead.

Then Jay-Z, Miley Cyrus, Santana and others all dropped out in quick succession, as the festival looked increasingly unlikely to take place.

Over the weekend, it was announced that tickets for the festival would be free, although the line-up was unclear.

Why cancel now?

In a statement on Wednesday, organisers finally admitted defeat.

“Woodstock 50 today announced that the three-day festival to celebrate its 50th anniversary has been cancelled,” the organisers said.

“We are saddened that a series of unforeseen setbacks has made it impossible to put on the festival we imagined with the great line-up we had booked and the social engagement we were anticipating,” Mr Lang said.

Other festivals that never were

Fyre festival

Perhaps the most notorious festival cancellation was the 2017 Fyre festival, which became the subject of two documentaries.

Fyre was billed as a glamorous party on a deserted Caribbean island but when people arrived the site was still unfinished.


VestiVille was due to take place in Belgium this week, but British festival goers arrived to find out it was cancelled.

Some drew analogies with the Fyre fiasco after the Lommel city mayor pulled the event over safety concerns.


The UK Livewire Festival in Blackpool was due to take place at the end of August, with a headline show from US singer Lauryn Hill.

The organisers – who had postponed the event in 2018 – pulled out again in mid-July, citing “investor issues”.

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