Pharrell Williams and at least two-dozen acts will take the stage at the first music festival planned for College Beach Weekend in Virginia Beach.
Williams, a Virginia Beach megastar known for his singing and songwriting, will be joined by Travis Scott, Migos, Dave Matthews Band and Missy Elliott at the Oceanfront. Virginia Beach rapper Pusha T also will perform.
The multi-cultural, multi-generational event will be held April 26 to 28, the same weekend college students are visiting the resort area for spring break.
For the last five years, no organized events have been planned during College Beach Weekend. The festival will be the first time the city is endorsing programs.
Tickets for the festival, dubbed Something in the Water, will go on sale beginning Friday at 12 p.m. at somethinginthewater.com. Early bird pricing for three-day admission is $150. Three-day VIP passes are $450, early bird pricing, according to the website.
"It’s unlike anything anyone’s ever seen before," Williams said in a phone interview from Los Angeles recently. He floated the idea for a festival in October.
After just a few months of planning, Williams' production team submitted final permit applications last week.
On Tuesday, the City Council will vote on whether to allocate $250,000 from a tourism fund to pay for festival logistics and marketing. The city spent about $190,000 on the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon last year.
"It’s so cool because you’re seeing the local government get involved and help in these efforts," Williams said. "You need [the] scaffolding of the city to be involved. It’s crazy the kind of support we’re getting from the Police Department and Fire Department."
Bringing top performers and brands to Virginia Beach was easy, Williams said.
"Yes, we are known as second-tier market," he said, adding, "we have the ability to operate on a much higher level."
Williams' sales pitch worked.
"It wasn’t hard to get the artists to come because all I had to do was say, 'Virginia buys your product. Virginia buys your music. ... They watch your films.'"
The name of the festival stemmed from how many notable artists and performers hail from the region and how many more are coming up through the ranks, he said.
Williams noted that Missy Elliott, a Portsmouth native who will perform at the festival next month, was recently inducted in the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
"It’s time for Virginians to be acknowledged on that level," he said.
Besides music acts, the weekend will feature a basketball tournament and programs focused on art, technology and health throughout the resort area and the Convention Center.
There will also be an evening screening on the beach of "The Burial of Kojo," set in Ghana and premiering on Netflix on March 31. Cultural activities will include speaking events with author Deepak Chopra and Geoffrey Canada as well as a pop-up church service and TRAP karaoke, an interactive concert experience.
Festival partners include Adidas, Sony, Uber Eats and Billionaire Boys Club. Live Nation is producing it.
For Williams, the festival is just another example of his ongoing contributions to his hometown.
Williams has often given back, visiting schools and providing programs for at-risk students. He recently published a children's book, "Happy." He's also a partner in the multi-faceted surf park project planned for the old Dome site.
The April festival — which he envisions becoming an annual attraction on the scale of other well-known music and conference events like South By Southwest in Austin, Texas — is another opportunity for him to leave a legacy in his city.
"I don’t know if it’s about giving back as it’s about paying it forward," he said.
One of the hardest aspects has been keeping quiet about the details over the last several weeks, he said.
"What feels good to me is the activation," he said. "The excitement and the activation around me; everyone getting involved. ... All hands on deck."
He added: "If I’m glowing it’s because of the light that Virginia sheds on me.
"It really is something in the water, and the world needs to come to find out what it is."