Yesterday, bougie salad purveyors Sweetgreen unveiled the lineup for their annual music festival, Sweetlife. With big name headliners like Grimes, The 1975, Eagles of Death Metal, Blondie, and more headlining this year’s festival, one can’t help but wonder when the D.C. area’s other big music festival, Landmark Fest, will be announcing its lineup.
Don’t hold your breath, because it’s not happening this year.
On the official website for Landmark Fest, it says “Thanks DC, See You in 2017!”
That’s curious, because as late as Feb. 5, the website said “Thanks DC, See You Next Year!”
Last year’s Landmark Fest wasn’t just the festival’s inauguration, it was the first paid-admission event on the National Mall. And it didn’t come without its fair share of controversy. The festival, which was put on by the Trust for the National Mall and produced by C3 Presents, drew criticism from several organizations, including Save the Smithsonian Folklife Festival—a grassroots organization aimed at keeping the Smithsonian’s signature festival on the National Mall.
Landmark Fest was billed as a benefit for the National Mall, which needs about $750 million for upgrades and backlogged repairs. In all, the festival—whose ticket prices ranged from $105 for single-day admission to $2,350 for a platinum VIP pass—only raised about $570,000 for the Trust.
The road to last year’s Landmark Fest wasn’t easy, with National Park Service employees raising questions and expressing serious concerns about hosting such an event on the Mall, according to emails obtained by Washington City Paper through an open records request. It’s unclear as to why this year’s Landmark Fest was postponed until 2017.
Update, 12:42 p.m.: The Trust for the National Mall has gotten back to us and indeed confirmed that Landmark Fest won’t happen this year. The reasoning? The opening of the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture on Sept. 24. In an email to City Paper, Trust spokesperson MacKenzie Babb says that “as friends of our Smithsonian neighbors, we want to do everything possible to support—and not distract from—their highly anticipated opening weekend.”
Babb adds that the festival will indeed return in 2017: “We remain committed to building on the success of the inaugural Landmark Music Festival and staging the cause-related festival next year, and we plan to grow it into an annual fundraising event that engages and entertains young adults while raising awareness of the park’s history, significance and pressing restoration needs.”