Council hopeful Pharrell Williams’ proposed festival can replace College Beach Weekend


VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Beach councilors give unofficial approval to move forward with planning a music festival to be held on what is traditionally College Beach Weekend. 

On Tuesday, the city manager’s office briefed councilors on the three-day music and cultural festival that is being proposed by Pharrell Williams

Williams, a Virginia Beach native, is hoping to create a positive music festival during next year’s College Beach Weekend. Titled “Something in the Water”, the event would be held at both Oceanfront stages and at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. 

“Every time we’re written about, whether it’s an academic or an athlete or artist, whenever you read the article, must be something in the water, you know. Missy Elliott. There must be something in the water,”  Williams explained.

The event would showcase music, art, fashion and food — with a goal of changing College Beach Weekend’s reputation.

Earlier this year, police arrested 43 people across the weekend.

City Manager Dave Hansen said if Pharrell’s team delivers the change will be dramatic. 

“…where parents actually don’t fear sending their kids to college break but they say, ‘yeah we want you go to Something in the Water, Virginia Beach, April 2019. Be there,” Hansen said.

Mayor-elect Bobby Dyer was quick to throw his support behind the idea.

“It can really help change the culture at the Oceanfront and start getting people from 757 and other people from Virginia Beach enjoying it too,” Dyer said. 

In October, the Virginia Beach Hotel Association met with Pharrell. The group also thinks his idea could turn things around.

Councilwoman Jessica Abbott brought up the costs to the city to facilitate the event. Deputy City Manager indicated organizers weren’t asking for tax dollars, however the impact on public services isn’t yet known.

The way the event is currently proposed, city council likely won’t take an official vote as it would proceed through the permitting process. 

More concrete plans are expected to be revealed after the first of the year. 

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