Looking at Festivals in Canada

There is something about the wilderness that makes the prospect of going to a festival very appealing. With the attitude of the Canadian people if ever a rock or folk festival was suited to a country this must be it.

200,000 visitors swell the population of Montebello for 4 days every year

With its vast areas of wilderness plus its history in producing successful bands and artists there is nothing that the average Canadian likes doing more that packing the tent and setting off to a beautiful part of the country to be entertained with live music. This is certainly the case with the “Live From the Rock Folk Festival” that is held each year in Red Rock. Squeezed in between Lake Superior and the rugged terrain of the North-West Frontier there is a special feel to proceedings with families cooking from their own barbecues while still listening to the live music.

An hour and a half drive eastward from Thunder Bay the festival was started in 2002 by a group of friends. It started slowly but with the passing of time its popularity has risen combing groups of people from a variety of social and economic backgrounds. It is very much a family orientated festival with different families connecting together over a number of years. Over a 1000 artist have played at the venue since 2002 and audiences hover at around 2,500. As well as the live music there are educational programs in terms of writing and playing music, plus physical activities for the children like swimming in Lake Superior.

The Green Roof at Hillside

In contrast to the family affair at Red Rock the “Rockfest” at Montebello is aimed at those who want to party. Started in 2005 by 17-year-old Alex Martel he wanted to turn his small home town into a rock paradise. The aim is to make everything affordable. People are able to pay for their tickets in 5 instalments and the majority of those who attend stay in tents. When the festival arrives each June the population of Montebello soars from 978 residents to over 200,000. What had started as 17 years old teenager’s pipe dream is now a huge logistical operation. The Rockfest now uses Quebec Summer City Festival. The Ottawa Bluesfest and Orchestra to handle the production, hospitality, logistics, camping and parking lots.

The final festival is Hillside that really is “Canadian: in its operation. It is an environmentally friendly rock festival with solar powered stages, re-usable dishes and a bike friendly transit network. It has been in operation since 1984 and is located an hour’s drive from Toronto within Guelph Lake, which is part of a conservation area. When it first started it was free admission with a voluntary donation and the bands charged nothing to play. The original workshops included fishing, kayaking and kite flying. From 1987 the venue was moved to the lake’s Island becoming a 3-day event with multiple stages. Due to the green policies of the festival numbers have been limited it to 5000 per day to keep it environmentally friendly. The festival continues to break new ground and has a green roof on its main stage, it has produced bio-degradable beer mugs and the rainbow stage is now powered by pedal power. In 2016 Hillside received the Best Green Operations Festival award from the Canada Music Week.

Canada has many more festivals as the outdoor environmentally friendly feel of festivals sits well with the population of the country. The summer time is very much festival time in Canada.