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Here’s what you need to know for Folk Fest this weekend

The 44th annual Calgary Folk Music Festival is on for July 27 though 30, and the Folk Fest team has some top tips to get the most out of the festival weekend.

For first-timers, and returning attendees that haven’t taken in the festival on Prince’s Island Park, 2023 will be more like the pre-pandemic Folk Fests said organizers.

“We’ve been programming on island in 2021, and again in 2022, but this is the first year that it really feels like we’re back in a big way,” said Calgary Folk Music Festival Executive Director Sara Leishman.

“We want them to discover new music and enjoy old favourites. But really, I think what it’s about, experiencing the Calgary Folk Festival, is being able to connect with your community.”

Leishman said that the goal is to create an accessible family friendly atmosphere (kids 12 and under get in free) and a more laid back atmosphere than other festivals.

Kelly Clarke, the longtime Artistic Director for the Calgary Folk Music Festival, said that the best way to take in the festival was with a great attitude, and your favourite dancing shoes.

“Bring accoutrements and clothing for all kinds of weather, because it could be really hot but looks like it’s gonna be a nice, decent temperature. But it could rain for a little bit.”

“Bring that bring bug spray brings bring sunscreen, bring something a bit warmer for later in the night.”

She said that festival goers can bring their own tarps, and low to the ground festival chairs if they like, but aren’t mandatory to take in any of the concerts.

Clarke said that she usually just likes to sit on the ground when she’s taking in the music.

Returning this year, like in past years said Leishman, was the opening day tarp run which sees hundreds of attendees line up to race for their favourite spot in front of the main stage.

“We have people that wait in line for hours to be able to set their tarp, their little home base here in the main field, in a location of their choice.”

“That means is it doesn’t always mean upfront some people like to be next to a specific tree. Some people like to set up their tarp next to their folk friends that they see once a year for four days. And so we certainly will line them all up, and we’ll get ready, but they have to skip or walk because safety first.”

She said that a few remaining tickets would be available at the main entrance for purchase, but that people wanting to attend this year should purchase their tickets online as quickly as possible.

Outside food and drinks allowed

Folk Fest will be once again be allowing attendees to bring their own food and beverage this year (non-alcoholic). Clarke said that there would be lots of locations that people can fill up their water bottles.

"If you want bring yourself a sandwich, bring yourself a water container because you can refill water, just be prepared to not-quite-camping in the city."

For people who don't want to bring their own food or drinks, or want to have a cocktail, beer, or glass of wine with a performance—the entire Calgary Folk Music Festival is licensed—there will be multiple vendors on park this year.

That includes a number of marketplace vendors selling music merchandise, handcrafted goods, and other items.

"We have our usual 25+ arts market vendors, and then we have approximately 23 food vendors this year. What we do is we try to make sure that we've got a selection of different things," said Leishman.

"What we do is try and prioritize local vendors and local business. That's a really important thing for us, as we really pride ourselves on local connections, local sponsorship and local community building."

Clarke said that the one thing that really sets Folk Fest apart from other festivals is that they "don't treat people like cattle."

"Not that some of the other festivals aren't but I think that that's something that people know and trust from us is that they're going to have that kind of great experience."

Festival lineup

Clarke said that this year's festival was featuring everything but heavy metal and classical music.

"We have everything from blues, roots, hip hop, funk, folk of course, traditional music from all over the world, and tons of global sounds."

"And I forgot to mention Tanya Tucker."

The mashup collaboration sessions will also be happening throughout the festival weekend, something that Clarke akined to an arranged musical marriage.

"There's a lot of collaboration so that makes it really unique."

Diggible Planets and Emmylou Harris will be headlining the main stage on Thursday night, and Five Alarm Funk and Rich Aucoin will be on the Twilight Stage.

Tanya Tucker and Andrew Bird will be on Friday's main stage, followed by Fantastic Negrito and Matt Mays on Saturday, and Jeff Tweedy and Bahamas on Sunday.

For the full festival lineup, see www.calgaryfolkfest.com/festival/schedule.

ATB Main Stage Schedule

Thursday, July 27

  • 5:30 p.m. to 6:20 p.m.: Aysanbee
  • 6:35 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.: Ibeyi
  • 7:45 pm. to 8:55 p.m.: Digable Planets
  • 9:10 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.: Emmylou Harris

Friday, July 28

  • 5:30 p.m. to 6:15 p.m.: Amythyst Kiah
  • 6:30 p.m. to 7:25 p.m.: The Dip
  • 7:40 p.m. to 8:40 p.m.: Calexico
  • 8:55 p.m. to 10:05 p.m.: Tanya Tucker
  • 10:20p.m. to 11:30 p.m.: Andrew Bird

Saturday, July 29

  • 5:30 p.m. to 6:20 p.m.: Ondara
  • 6:35 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.: Julia Jacklin
  • 7:45 pm. to 8:50 p.m.: The Wood Brothers
  • 9:05 p.m. to 10:10 p.m.: Fantastic Negrito
  • 10:25 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.: Matt Mays

Sunday, July 30

  • 5:30 p.m. to 6:20 p.m.: Dominique Fils-Aime
  • 6:35 p.m. to 7:25 p.m.: Sierra Ferrell
  • 7:40 pm. to 8:50 p.m.: Jeff Tweedy
  • 9:05 p.m. to 10:15 p.m.: The Bahamas

National Twilight Stage Schedule

Thursday, July 27

  • 5:45 p.m. to 6:35 p.m.: Kalascima feat. Andrea Ramolo
  • 6:55 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.: BuenRostro
  • 8:00 p.m. to 9:05 p.m.: Five Alarm Funk
  • 9:25 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.: Rich Aucoin

Friday, July 27

  • 6:15 p.m. to 7:10 p.m.: Buffalo Nichols
  • 7:30 p.m. to 8:25 p.m.: The Soul Motivators
  • 8:45 p.m. to 9:40 p.m.: dumama + kechou
  • 10:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.: Beats Antique

Saturday, July 29

  • 6:15 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.: Courtney Marie Andrews
  • 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.: The Weather Station
  • 8:45 p.m. to 9:45 p.m.: The Saddies
  • 10:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.: Paper Kites