Pharrell-backed festival moving forward, coming to Oceanfront in April

Something in the Water festival from Pharrell Williams (Sputhside Daily photo/Courtesy of the City of Virginia Beach)
Something in the Water festival from Pharrell Williams (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of the City of Virginia Beach)

VIRGINIA BEACH — College Beach Weekend — the annual influx of students from around the mid-Atlantic — will have more structure, security, and programming this year, as the city plans to move forward with a three-day festival April 26-28.

Something in the Water Festival, the brainchild of Virginia Beach-born hip-hop star Pharrell Williams, will bring a mixture of sports, art, technology, music, and educational programming to the Oceanfront.

The 2019 season is being dubbed “a transition year,” as the festival integrates “as the primary social programming” of College Beach Weekend, according to City Council documents.

Related story: There is ‘Something in the Water,’ and Pharrell Williams just trademarked it

Williams and his multimedia branding company I Am Other are funding the festival. He is also a partner for the Virginia Beach surf park and 3,500-seat entertainment center venture.

During an October 2018 council meeting, City Manager Dave Hansen said the festival “could potentially put us on the map 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.”

Festival organizers have not asked the city for any direct payments or subsidies, said Deputy City Manager Ron Williams. But the city will be supporting the festival with crowd control, transportation, and parking initiatives.

City officials hope the festival will bring structure to the annual college weekend that has seen its share of violence and traffic issues.

According to Tuesday’s presentation to City Council, a “substantial private security force” will be employed by organizers during the festival. Other security efforts include a gun search policy for private events, lifeguarding, and support from the city in managing traffic and crowds.

A new trolley service is slated to carry Oceanfront visitors from Atlantic Avenue to the Virginia Beach Convention Center, which will be the center of the festival weekend. Multiple digital parking apps are being touted by the city as well.

City Council will receive an update on the festival planning Tuesday from Brian Solis, a transportation and transit manager at the city.

Whether Williams will perform remains unclear. The music lineup is expected to be revealed next week.

Always be informed. Get the latest news and information delivered to your inbox

Print Friendly, PDF & Email