The Pacific Airshow will return to Huntington City Beach Oct. 1-3 and promoters have added an after party to the annual daytime event dubbed the Afterburner Music Festival.
After having to cancel last year’s event because of the coronavirus pandemic, the air show is coming back bigger in 2021 with a two-day extended nighttime event. So far, Sammy Hagar & The Circle will headline the first night of the fest on Friday, Oct. 1, and country star Sam Hunt and rock band X Ambassadors will perform on Saturday, Oct. 2.
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Tickets start at $59 for general admission and $159 for VIP on Friday and $79 for general admission and $179 for VIP on Saturday. VIP admission includes access to a VIP lounge, premium food and beverage options and private restrooms. All passes go on sale at 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 5, at afterburnermusicfestival.com. Tickets, schedules, updates and other exclusive content can be accessed through the Pacific Airshow app.
Kevin Elliott, event director of the Pacific Airshow and Afterburner Music Festival and CEO of Huntington Beach-based Code Four marketing agency, said that combining the daytime airshow with live music has been his team’s vision since they came on board four years ago. He also credits Hagar with helping get the music festival launched.
“He’s such a cool guy,” Elliott said during a recent phone interview. “He really helped precipitate the Afterburner Music Festival because he wanted to get back to the beach and play again in Orange County and be a part of the Pacific Airshow. He was an early supporter behind the scenes so we have him to thank for that.”
The Blue Angels, which will be part of the Pacific Airshow, also appeared in A-4 Skyhawks in Van Halen’s Hagar-era 1986 music video “Dreams.”
Doors for the festival open at 4 p.m., just as the Pacific Airshow wraps up each day, and the grounds will include several food and beverage options and spots to put down beach blankets and low-back lawn chairs (beach umbrellas and coolers are prohibited).
The Afterburner Music Festival also marks the first time a live music event has taken place on City Beach since a riot broke out at the U.S. Open of Surfing in 2013 that prompted over 100 arrests and caused thousands of dollars worth of property damage.
Several other music festivals have taken place just south of Huntington City Beach at Huntington State Beach, including Hagar’s own High Tide Beach Party & Car Show in 2018; the Surf City Blitz with Social Distortion and The Offspring in 2018; and the ska-infused Back to the Beach Festival in 2018 and 2019. North of the pier, the NOFX curated Punk ‘N Brew fest happened at Bolsa Chica State Beach in 2017.
Elliott said as a longtime resident of the city and as a local business owner he takes security and public safety seriously and will ensure the family-friendly event remains as such. Unlike the free U.S. Open of Surfing event, the Afterburner Music Festival is a ticketed fest and will be zoned off with fences and barriers on the sand to accommodate up to 12,000 patrons per day.
“I grew up here and went to school here in Huntington Beach, so I’m very invested in the community,” he said. “Obviously I’ve seen and heard the positives and certainly the woes of the things that have happened here, but as a member of this community I am substantially invested in making sure things go correctly and that we use this as a way to demonstrate to our community that we know how to do this properly with respect to events of the past. We have a very robust security plan and we feel like with our capacity being set to what it is this year, we have a comprehensive safety plan to ensure everything goes smoothly. I feel confident in our ability to deliver a quality event with no issues.”
Elliott said he’s also been working with the city to make sure the event can comply with whatever COVID-19 restrictions may be in place by the festival dates.
“We’re very keen to monitoring all of the health and safety guidelines from the county, city and state as well as national guidelines that are probably forthcoming and doing our best to comply within those guidelines,” he said, noting his company has successfully hosted numerous community events over the past several months. “We felt with this event being an outdoor event, that gives us an advantage. We’re planing for contingencies like masking as required and we’ve got tens of thousands of masks that we will have available for people should they need them, as well as additional hand washing and sanitizing stations and all of that mitigation. Everybody hopes that COVID becomes less and less of a thing, but as it changes dynamically, so do we.”
The Pacific Airshow will feature the U.S. Navy Blue Angels celebrating their 75th anniversary tour and flying new F/A-18 Super Hornets. Blue Angels will be joins by the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, celebrating their 50th anniversary season, the U.S. Air Force F-35 Lightning II Demo Team led by Major Kristin “BEO” Wolfe, the U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey Demo Team, the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachutist demonstration team, world-class civilian aerobatic performers and more. Tickets are $25-$3,950 and are on sale now at pacificairshow.com.