Thanks to coronavirus, the World of Bluegrass festival will be online-only this year. 

The International Bluegrass Music Association’s festival typically draws more than 200,000 people downtown each year. It was scheduled to kick off September 27. Headliners have not yet been announced. Last year, performances included the Del McCoury Band, The Ringers, I’m With Her, and Molly Tuttle. 

Now the performances, conference, and awards ceremony will all take place virtually due to the logistical challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, IBMA announced Wednesday. 

“While we all would love to gather in Raleigh this year for IBMA World of Bluegrass, the extraordinary circumstances made this decision necessary,” IBMA executive director Paul Schiminger said in a statement. “Maintaining the health and safety of the large crowd we enjoy each year would be such an enormous, uncertain, and risky proposition.”

Online performances will now take place from September 28 through October 3. Festival organizers hope to continue the event in Raleigh in 2021, “with the possibility of extending event content beyond those dates.” 

“World of Bluegrass brings together some of the best and most talented traditional musicians in the world and, for the last seven years, thousands of music lovers and industry leaders have gathered in Raleigh to celebrate everything bluegrass,” Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin said in a statement. “And while it’s not possible to gather in person this year, we hope that Raleigh and the IBMA World of Bluegrass events will be at the top of everyone’s travel plans for 2021.”

The story has been updated to note headliners this year have not been announced. 

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