Something in the Water will return to Va. Beach in 2023
Music festival coming back to city in April
Music superstar and Virginia Beach native Pharrell Williams announced Wednesday that his signature three-day music festival, Something in the Water, will again be held in Virginia Beach on April 28-30, 2023, after the festival moved to Washington, D.C., this summer.
The inaugural Something in the Water festival was held on the Virginia Beach Oceanfront in April 2019, before the pandemic caused its cancelation in 2020 and 2021. Williams announced the next iteration of the festival at the second day of his Mighty Dream forum in Norfolk. Speaking on stage, surrounded by officials from Virginia Beach, Williams preceded the news by saying, “It’s all about the 757.”
“The demand for the festival in Virginia Beach and the 757 — among the people — has never wavered. If anything it has only intensified,” Williams said in a statement. “College Beach Weekend continues every year and the city of Virginia Beach leaders have been eager to reconcile and move forward. The environment is finally optimized for return and the announcement will delight everyone — from HBCU students across the eastern USA to the hundreds of small businesses who will play a role in the festival to the cities within the region and neighborhoods that will serve as hosts. I need to come back home. There is a pervasive feeling by almost everyone that the festival belongs in Virginia Beach, and the time is right to bring it back.”
“It is exciting to be so close to the possible return of the Something in the Water festival,” Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer said in a statement. “The city and Mr. Williams have negotiated what I think are mutually beneficial draft terms in good faith. We sincerely appreciate Mr. Williams and his willingness to bring this marquee event back home, and we look forward to hearing from the public Nov. 15.”
Virginia Beach City Council will discuss a contract for the festival and accept comments from the public during its Nov. 15 meeting and will vote on whether to approve the festival on Dec. 6. Dyer walked back an earlier, more effusive statement welcoming the festival’s return, replacing it with the newer statement acknowledging the required public comment and council vote to approve the city’s contract with the festival.
The proposed contract between the city and the festival includes a $500,000 financial contribution from Virginia Beach. The festival would be held between 4th and 15th streets at the Oceanfront and the city would provide in-kind contributions such as the use of various resort stages for concerts, use of public parking lots, city public safety and public works personnel “already programmed for College Beach Weekend,” city support to use school buses and availability of the Virginia Beach Convention Center.
The last time Something in the Water was held in Virginia Beach, the hotel occupancy rate for the event was about 90% throughout the city and hovered between 94% and 96% in the Resort area, and 86% throughout Hampton Roads, according to an economic analysis done by Old Dominion University. Hotel revenue generated $4.85 million for all of Hampton Roads, including $2.2 million in Virginia Beach. According to the OCU report, the economic impact of Virginia Beach-based and visitor ticket holders was $21.76 million, with resulting tax revenue of $1.19 million and a total economic impact of $24.11 million across Hampton Roads.
In September 2021, Williams wrote a letter to Virginia Beach’s city manager saying that he would not be bringing the 2022 festival to his hometown because of the city’s “toxic energy,” citing his cousin Donovon Lynch’s 2021 killing by a Virginia Beach police officer and a special grand jury’s finding of no probable cause to charge the officer. That, combined with other issues surrounding Williams’ economic development projects in the city, made Williams decide to move the festival, which yielded $24 million in local economic impact in 2019, to Washington, D.C. for 2022.
Tickets for the 2023 Something in the Water festival will go on sale on Nov. 5. The first two hours of ticket sales will be limited to Hampton Roads residents — “the 757,” Williams said. Performers will be announced later, according to the Something in the Water website.