Skip to main content

A videographer looks through his camera during the 2020 Juno Award nominee news conference, in Toronto, on Jan. 28, 2020.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

The 2021 Juno Awards are moving to May for their 50th anniversary.

Organizers behind Canada’s biggest night in music say the golden celebration, set to take place in Toronto, is being delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The televised show will happen on May 16, 2021, about a month and a half after its originally planned date in March.

Allan Reid, head of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, says the move is intended to give artists and the local community more options to celebrate in a time when physical distancing measures are expected to still be in place.

“We also hope that the warmer weather will bring more opportunities for some unique outdoor programming,” he said in a news conference.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a huge effect on the city and our music community, but we will be resilient and live music will return, and we will be there to help in any way we can.”

The return of the Juno Awards to Toronto, for the first time in a decade, was billed as a splashy affair when it was announced last year. Thousands of fans were expected to gather inside the Scotiabank Arena, with many past honorees in attendance.

How the momentous occasion might take shape in the pandemic is a work in progress, Reid said, and it’s still undetermined whether any of the Juno performances will be permitted to take place indoors.

The organization also stopped short of announcing details for Juno Week, a series of concerts and events leading up to the broadcast that in other years have proven to be a business boon for local bars and concert halls.

Other changes will be introduced as part of the Junos anniversary, including three new looks for the award statuette.

The updated designs take inspiration from designer Shirley Elford’s human-shaped molten-glass award, first handed out in 2000.

A gold Juno will be given to Juno Award winners, while a silver version is for recipients of a special Juno prize, and a gold and silver variation goes to Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductees.

There’s also a notable change within the R&B categories, first announced in October.

The R&B recording of the year award will now be two distinct prizes, one for contemporary R&B recording of the year and another for traditional R&B/soul recording of the year.

Reid noted that artist submissions for the Junos reached a record high, though he did not offer specific figures.

He said the historic interest shows the resiliency of Canadian musicians in a difficult year that saw many of their concert tours cancelled.

Nominees for the Juno Awards will be announced early in 2021.

The Globe has five brand-new arts and lifestyle newsletters: Health & Wellness, Parenting & Relationships, Sightseer, Nestruck on Theatre and What to Watch. Sign up today.