VIRGINIA BEACH — City Council agreed Tuesday to let the Oceanfront festival proposed by Pharrell Williams to move forward.
The three-day festival, titled “Something in the Water,” would take place at the Oceanfront during the last week of April and would coincide with College Beach Weekend.
Deputy City Manager Ron Williams said Pharrell Williams hopes the festival will help reinvent the city’s image surrounding that time of year.
Williams added that Pharrell Williams has decided to trademark the term “Something in the Water” for use with future Virginia Beach promotions and festivals.
The festival would feature “top-tier music performances, in-depth panel discussions, sports activities, local art, and cuisine,” according to a presentation by Williams that conveyed ideas from Pharrell and his festival team.
The hub of the festival will be at the Virginia Beach Convention Center, with much of the content taking the form of a conference-style event. Other venues for the festival would include 17th-Street Park, Shakas Live, and 24th-Street stage.
Pharrell’s vision for the festival, according to Williams’s presentation, could model itself after the “South X Southwest” festival in Austin, Texas, which is a combination of product launches, music festivals, and presentations, Williams said.
City Manager Dave Hansen said the idea “could potentially put us on the map for the place in the world of technology, art, fashion, food, and music, at a time where we are looking for something better than what we currently have.”
“It’s multicultural, it’s multifaceted, it’s not one thing and it’s not one thing that we’ve ever seen here before,” Hansen said, who later described the event as “next-level for Hampton Roads.”
However, the festival and all of its event would be a ticketed, Williams said, which raised concern from Vice-Mayor Jim Wood.
“The students are going to come to the Oceanfront either way (for College Beach Weekend), so I’m just trying to figure out if this is going to be something they can afford,” Wood said.
The organizers are still working on price structures, Williams said.
After Councilwoman Jessica Abbott asked about what, if any, city funding would be required, Williams noted “they haven’t asked for any direct payment from the city, and they in fact said they wouldn’t ask that.”
However, the direct impact on city services during the festival is still an open question.
Pharrell’s team will provide City Council with more details and a complete schedule of the festival in January.