As the coronavirus pandemic sweeps across the globe, music festivals are opting to cancel their events in order to curb the virus’ impact. Ultra Music Festival was the first to announce it would be canceling its 2020 iteration, and Austin’s SXSW followed shortly. The last-minute cancellations have left many perplexed and ticketholders wondering when they will get their refunds. But it’s possible that no refund will be available. Both SXSW and Ultra are reportedly not offering ticket refunds and instead only offering exchanges for future festival dates.
In an email sent to ticketholders Monday, Ultra detailed the next steps in the cancellation process. Rather than receiving a refund directly, ticketholders can choose to exchange their passes for Ultra’s 2021 or 2022 festivals. According to a screenshot of the email posted to Reddit, Ultra is giving ticketholders 30 days to decide which year they want to attend:
“ALL tickets purchases will of course remain valid and will be honored at either the 2021 or 2022 Ultra Miami event, at your option. You will have 30 days to choose which Ultra Miami event you want to attend. Additionally, we are also working to offer a digital online Ultra experience as soon as possible.
Even though the situation is completely beyond our control, we are fully engaged, pushing forward to go above and beyond for you. In seeing that commitment through, we have worked around the clock to assume an extraordinary added value package for you.”
Along with offering ticket exchanges, Ultra is giving 50 percent off $250 worth of merchandise, exclusive access to a 2021 DJ event, and an opportunity to win one of ten free admission passes.
SXSW is following Ultra’s example and only offering ticket exchanges rather than refunds. Though SXSW has yet to send an official email, the festival is following the cancellation guidelines as stated on its website: “Any and all payments made to SXSW are not refundable for any reason, including, without limitation, failure to use Credentials due to illness, acts of God, travel-related problems, acts of terrorism, loss of employment and/or duplicate purchases.” Rather, badge-holders will be allowed to “defer their registration to 2021, 2022 or 2023.”
Along with refusing refunds, it seems as though SXSW is scrambling to sustain itself following news of cancellation. Just days after Austin’s Mayor Steve Adler announced SXSW’s cancellation, the organization laid off one-third of its full-time employees.
Ultra was the first to announce it would be canceling its event, and many other concerts followed suit. Coachella announced it will be postponing the festival until October and Miley Cyrus canceled her Australian bushfire charity concert in the wake of the coronavirus’ rapid spread.