Throughout the course of an event lifecycle, there are so many unexpected causes for cancellations, postponements, curtailments, relocations or even rescheduling. While COVID has been the main cause these past two years, it hasn’t always been to blame!

Well before COVID came along, live events had already been falling victim to cancellations. Anything from the forces of mother nature to unfortunate circumstances at the venue, organizers could face obstacles that might lead to an eventual cancellation. Let’s dive into a few of the common causes for event cancellations and highlight some examples of events that have experienced these in recent years.

Natural disasters

Mother nature is one force that we cannot predict (as hard as we may try), let alone control. She has been around since the dawn of time, and therefore, severe weather is something that event professionals have to navigate from start to finish, for every single event. Event organizers are no strangers to disruptive weather. Whether facing down a hurricane or earthquake or dealing with the aftermath of a weather event that has resulted in flooding or power outages, the safety of staff and attendees must always be the top priority.

  • Bonnaroo: The 2021 version of Bonnaroo is the perfect example of a recent event that was struck by unfortunate weather circumstances. It was set to return after canceling in 2020 (after an initial postponement) and would take place for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

For a festival that typically takes place in June, the unforeseen weather patterns that hit Nashville in September (read: Hurricane Ida) resulted in waterlogged campgrounds and unsafe conditions for staff and attendees.

  • NY Homecoming concert: The 5 hour concert held in Central Park had a star studded lineup and was organized in an effort to help New York’s recovery from coronavirus. It was cut short because of an approaching tropical storm, causing a lot of disappointment for the 60,000 attendees.

As Henri approached the northeastern United States, it arrived just in time to interrupt the ongoing concert in NYC. Heavy rain and lightning filled the skies before organizers decided the best call was to end the remainder of the performances for everyone’s safety.

Venue cancels

It’s not exactly unheard of for a venue to cancel on an organizer. The reasons could range anywhere from technical problems to physical damage to the property, but in any case, it would certainly leave the organizer in a sticky situation.

  • Stern Grove Festival: The 2021 festival, which already put on 9 successful shows prior to the August incident, was forced to call off the final day of performances due to a burst water main which caused heavy damage to the venue, rendering it unusable.

The issue resulted from repairs that were being tended to by city workers on the water line.  Hundreds of thousands of gallons of water flooded the grounds. The fear of trees being uprooted and the extensive damage could not be repaired in time for the concert later in the week.

  • Webster Hall concert: In August 2021, a Manhattan venue, filled with fans for a Marauda concert, was forced to implement a sudden evacuation. The concert was called off in the middle of a set due to a damaged barricade separating the fans from the stage. Organizers were forced to clear the venue and postpone the show until the following week.

Low ticket sales

Poor ticket sales to a concert, festival or conference could ultimately lead to the cancellation of an event. This could be a result of competitive events in the same area, mis-management by the organizers or simply not enough interest. In any case, going ahead with an event with low ticket sales can be an unfortunate cause for cancellation.

  • FYF Festival: The 2018 Los Angeles festival pulled the plug two and a half months before the scheduled summer show. The organizers confirmed it was due to poor ticket sales, likely attributed to what was going on behind the scenes.

Unfortunately, accusations against the festival’s creator deterred people from wanting to attend, leading to a decision that the event “could not be salvaged”. The public made it very clear that they were not on board with supporting the festival and very few tickets were sold in the end.

  • T-Pain concert: The singer made an announcement leading up to his scheduled 2019 show that it would no longer be taking place after low numbers of tickets sold. The reason behind this one simply seems to be for lack of interest by the general public.

T-Pain confirms that there were clearly issues leading up to the selling of the tickets, including mis-managed plans and efforts lacking by the team. Tickets were also only released two months prior to the event, and as they didn’t seem to be selling well closer to the date, the decision was made to cancel the tour altogether.

Crowd Safety

Anything that would lead to an unsafe environment for performers, attendees and workers could warrant a cancellation. From barriers breaking, entrances being breached and even crowd surges or stampedes, there have been instances where attendees’ safety has been at risk which led to cancellations. Within the last couple of months, two major concerts in the US alone had unruly crowds and chaos ensued, causing them to end early.

  • Playboi Carti concert: In October 2021, the rapper was set to perform at NRG arena in Houston but didn’t even make it onstage before the concert was called off.

Fans waited in lines for hours outside the arena before things started to get chaotic. It all started when fans rushed the entrances, breaching the security and ran into the stadium, even knocking out a security guard on the way. The incident called for heavy police presence and for organizers to come to the decision to cancel the concert for security reasons.

  • Astroworld: The most recent incident and one of the more tragic examples of crowds becoming unruly, coincidentally took place in Houston. Astroworld festival was forced to end early on November 5th and is still being investigated by the authorities.

Even though there were signs early on that the festival-goers were already a possible security concern, nothing was stopped. With a sea of people surging towards the front, the safety of thousands of fans was at stake. People were trapped in the mass, unable to move, breathe and escape to safety. The incident unfortunately led to 10 casualties, hundreds of injuries and an end to the remainder of the festival. (You can read a first hand account of one attendee’s experience on our blog).

Non-appearance

When a listed artist or talent is suddenly unable to attend as scheduled, it could sadly put an end to the event if there is no alternative solution. Sometimes a replacement artist, speaker or talent is not an option and therefore fans will have to wait to see them at a later date. It is an unfortunate circumstance but not an unusual one.

  • Celine Dion concert: In October of 2021, events were starting to make a comeback. Celine Dion was scheduled to perform a series of shows in Las Vegas and due to medical reasons, had to cancel them until further notice.

The shows had been scheduled for November and January-February, but the singer was considered unfit to rehearse and ultimately perform. Celine had been experiencing severe muscle spasms and had to call off the scheduled series of shows. No new dates have been announced, but organizers are ready to reschedule them when the singer is healthy and able to get back onstage.

  • Maroon 5 concert: In May 2016, the band announced the cancellation of their shows in North Carolina after an Anti-LGBTQ law was passed, and they were not alone in doing so. In protest to the law (which legislates individuals need to use the bathrooms “in accordance with the gender listed on their birth certificate”), the band joined other artists like Bruce Springsteen and Demi Levato in scratching the state off their touring list.

Sure, it’s a tough pill to swallow when you have to call it quits on an event that took you months to plan. Other than disappointing fans, your hard work, dedication, and financial investments seem to be just tossed out the window. So, having a safety net like event cancellation insurance could be the solution you need to bounce back and start planning for the next event.

Remember that you should be very mindful about reviewing what your event cancellation policy does and doesn’t cover. (In a recent post, we discussed why event cancellation insurance won't cover COVID-19. You can read it here). With eve Insured, we keep things straightforward, making sure that you know exactly what’s included in your policy and that you have the coverage you need. The last thing you need is to find out you're not covered once disaster has already struck.

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*This list doesn't reflect eve’s insurance offerings. Feel free to contact us if you want to know more about our coverage.