Thousands of fans who planned to see artists such as Ciara, Nelly Furtado and Gwen Stefani perform at a sold-out Las Vegas music festival this weekend woke up to a sweeping change of plans Saturday after organizers canceled the event because of expected heavy winds.

The Lovers & Friends Festival, a nostalgia-laden hip-hop and R&B event, was supposed to kick off Saturday on the Sin City’s festival grounds with big names including Janet Jackson, Alicia Keys, Mary J. Blige and Usher.

The fest has had a history of snags throughout its short existence, but what would have been its third iteration seemed to be on track as late as Friday. Merchandise was still being promoted on social media and ticket holders and artists were boarding planes to Vegas.

That all changed with an overnight statement from organizers.

Planners said they had been “monitoring the weather for several days and proactively preparing for a windy Saturday,” but decided it was too unsafe after advice from public officials and the National Weather Service, which warned of high winds and “gusts potentially more than 60 mph.”

“This was an incredibly heartbreaking decision to make as we are aware that fans have traveled from all over the world to enjoy this incredible lineup of superstars and have been looking forward to this event for several months,” the statement said. “We’ve worked hard to create an amazing event for you, and we are just as disappointed as you are.”


55th NAACP Image Awards - Show

Usher addresses the audience after winning Entertainer of the Year during the 55th NAACP Image Awards on Saturday, March 16, at The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Chris Pizzello/Associated Press file

“Mannn … I’m just as disappointed as you are,” Usher said in an Instagram Story on Saturday morning. He planned to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his fourth album “Confessions” at the festival. “We were getting ready to turn up and celebrate today.”

Another would-be performer, JoJo, saw the logic in canceling. “We put so much into this show & i was so excited. But it’s way more important ppl don’t get blown tf over by 1 billion mph winds” she wrote on X. “We make plans and God is like hold onnn just one second there buddy.”

Keith Lee, a popular Las Vegas-based food critic on TikTok, invited some of his favorite local restaurants to serve food at the festival’s FamiLee Food Section. “This is devastating for these small restaurants,” he said in a video after learning of the cancellation. They “have put damn near everything that they have into this, and now it’s not happening. So everybody’s scrambling and trying to figure out what we’re going to do.”

Anyone who purchased tickets through official channels – starting prices ranged from $325 to $695 – will receive a refund within 30 days, organizers said. But those who had booked flights and hotel rooms for the one-day festival expressed their dissatisfaction with the last-minute switch-up.

“All I know is by tomorrow, Dorothy’s whole house betta be flying by with Toto too, cause this is some nonsense,” one person wrote on Instagram.

The festival has experienced its fair share of upsets even before this year’s cancellation.


When Lovers & Friends was first announced in 2020, its legitimacy was called into question after several artists on its lineup denied their involvement. That year’s event was later canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The festival finally debuted in Vegas in 2022. Three attendees later sued organizers, claiming they failed to provide adequate safety and security measures when rumors of gunfire at the event caused them to be trampled in a stampede. The case is still pending.

Last year, Rolling Stone reported that Lil Jon considered suing Live Nation over the name of the festival, which shares a name with his group’s 2004 song. Organizers didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday.

When the festival announced its star-studded lineup earlier this year, Mary J. Blige said on Instagram that her “inclusion was an error” and that she’d be rehearsing for her Strength of a Woman Festival & Summit. A day later, Blige’s name had a bigger and better placement on the festival poster, and Lovers & Friends confirmed on social media that she would be performing.

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