If you love music festivals but you’re not feeling the massive lineups, crowded stages, or hefty ticket prices of popular events like Coachella, Sasquatch, and Shambhala Music Festival you’re in for a treat this summer. B.C.’s music festival scene is expanding to offer music lovers a host of small festivals with big personalities.
While big headliners are arguably the reason people attend most festivals, smaller festivals often have a more laid-back atmosphere, more space for dancing and chilling, and offer better views of the artists without the sardine-effect of some music audiences. If you’re looking for something different to try out this summer, look into these five B.C. music festivals.
Welcome in summer on Vancouver Island at Tall Tree Music Festival, June 21 to 23. Held just outside Port Renfrew, at Browns Mountain, Tall Tree showcases live talent from genres including surf and folk rock, and electronic dance music. The ocean views and old-growth forest setting are draw enough, though the remote location also makes for a somewhat primitive festival—bring cash with you because there’s no ATM on-site.
Acts for Tall Tree 2012 haven’t been released yet, but previous artists have included Jets Overhead, Neon Steve, and LongWalkShortDock.
Another excellent festival in June is The Groove Music Festival, June 22 to 25, at the GT Paradize Adventure Ranch in Midway, B.C. According to organizer Jon Larson, the festival was created in honour of his friend, Casey Crawford, who passed away in 2009. Larson aims to continue showcasing only Canadian music talent as the festival continues to grow—this year’s docket includes electronic dance music artists Freddy J, Yan Zombie, Bryx, and Deeps.
Back on the Island, another great festival, held July 20 to 22, is the Kulth Music Festival in Coombs, B.C. This folk fest with an edge, as its name implies—Kulth is short for Kulth-Ka-Choolth, meaning jagged face—is a film festival and music festival combined. Feature films A Small Act and Sunflower Hour will be screened throughout the day and night, followed by musical acts like The Boom Booms and Georgia Murray. The electronic music stage has yet to announce confirmed artists.
If you love the atmosphere of “hippie fests” like Shambhala Music Festival, but want something smaller and more intimate check out Bass Coast, in Squamish August 3 to 6. This riverside festival is capped at 3,000 attendees, and is a weekend exhibition of the arts, dance, and yoga. Although the 2012 lineup hasn’t been released, previous artists like Dub FX, Erica Dee, Kyrian, and EPROM, shows that this festival is well worth the ticket price.
There’s also a new festival popping up on the west coast this year: Wanderlust.
This yoga-music festival is taking place in Whistler August 23 to 26 and is featuring celebrity yogis like Baron Baptise and Eoin Finn, and excellent musical acts like Michael Franti and Thievery Corporation. While this is Wanderlust’s first year in Whistler, the production company, part of the group that organizes Austin City Limits and Lollapalooza, has a proven track record of producing great events.
These music festivals are among the many popping up all over B.C. With so much great local talent, and so many ambitious event organizers targeting B.C.’s picturesque potential festival venues, there’s no need to travel long miles and spend loads of cash on massive festivals where time is often wasted waiting in line, and trying to get a better vantage point of the stage.
Tall Tree Music Festival
June 21 to 23
Port Renfrew, B.C.
$129 advance purchase;
$159 at gate
The Groove Music Festival
June 22 to 25
GT Paradize Adventure Ranch, Midway, B.C.
$50 – $60 advance purchase;
$75 at gate;
$100 and up: VIP packages
Kulth Music Festival
July 20 to 22
Coombs Rodeo Grounds
Prices not yet available
Bass Coast Project
August 3 to 6
$195 advance purchase;
$220 at gate
August 23 to 26
$99 to $475 USD