Approaching the end of the year means anxiously awaiting the lineup to be released for a massive SoCal music festival. Nope, not that one; come early 2020, we’ll know who’s headlining the inaugural L.A. edition of Virgin Fest, Richard Branson’s travel and hotel company’s reentry into the music fest scene.
Here’s everything we know for sure about Virgin Fest: It’s coming to L.A. on June 6 and 7, 2020 and it’ll feature multiple stages spread across the Banc of California Stadium and most of Exposition Park. It’s being billed as a huge party to kick off summer each year—yes, there are already plans to make it an annual event. We won’t know the lineup until early next year, when tickets go on sale, but it’ll lean Top 40.
If you’re wondering about all of those quality-of-life details that make or break a festival experience, Virgin Fest is still being a little fuzzy on the specifics, but it’s promising a few major ideals: Music, of course, is at the center of it all, but so are sustainability, technology and hospitality.
“It’s the music festival of tomorrow, today,” as festival co-founder and CEO Jason Felts puts it.
On the sustainability front, that means things like banning single-use plastics (there’ll be a reusable cup deposit system), using biofuels and solar power, encouraging attendees to use Exposition Park’s nearby Metro stations and only bringing aboard vendors (for food, that’ll be a mix of catering outfits and local restaurants) that align with Virgin’s values.
As for technology, Virgin Fest’s app will feature a concierge service as well as the ability to purchase a slate of on-site upgrades—Felts cited ordering food and drinks from the touchscreen on your airplane seat as a predictor of what level of service we can expect. But technology also factors into the fest quite literally, with a generous section of the grounds dedicated to showing off cutting-edge and emerging tech (fingers crossed for being able to step inside of a spaceship or a Hyperloop pod).
It’s the hospitality part, though, that has the potential to set Virgin Fest apart from some of the competition—but also the aspect that seems lightest on specifics so far. The fest promises shade, comfortable seating and hydration stations, and Felts stressed there’ll be clear navigation as well (a particular point of pain for previous music fests held at Exposition Park—we’ll be particularly curious to see if and how Virgin Fest works around the tiring, out-of-the-way trek that the Coliseum’s footprint used to cause at FYF). As for customer service, “We’re not treating anybody like a GA customer,” says Felts. Semantically, that means calling the lowest-tier ticket a “fan pass” instead of “general admission.” But in practice, Virgin Fest will double down on customer service—dubbed “fan service”—at every point of the festival experience with an assurance of a high ratio of helpful, vetted employees at the front gates and security, at vendors and throughout the grounds for wayfinding. Theoretically, you won’t have to splurge on a VIP ticket for some decent treatment—just for things like meet-and-greets and a car service.
Of course, none of this matters at all without the music lineup to back it up. Felts has worked on Del Mar’s Kaaboo (which Virgin recently acquired) for a couple of years, but he says Virgin Fest won’t be similar at all to that adult-oriented luxury fest; through an in-house team as well as one outsourced booker, the Virgin Fest lineup will instead skew significantly younger and across genres, with predominantly Top 40 artists as well as some up-and-comers. Virgin Fest isn’t the company’s first foray into the festival circuit; a series of both paid and free-to-attend events brought the likes of Jack White, M83, Patti Smith, Kanye West, The Black Keys, Bob Dylan, Deadmau5 and LCD Soundsystem to Maryland’s Merriweather Post Pavilion in the aughts, with a couple of other fests in Canada and the UK, as well. Despite that global history, Felts says Virgin’s sole music fest focus right now is on this L.A. event—and, until the lineup release, so is ours.