Folk Fest Fundamentals

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by Dennis Van Horn

The Folk Festival in Edmonton is without a doubt one of the essential, must-see music festivals in Western Canada. With 33 years of experience under its belt it is steeped in tradition, with a large fan base of regular concert goers that go year after year. This might be intimidating for the first time attendee, but have no fear ... FestivalSeekers is here to give you a few pointers that will make the weekend go by a little easier and turn you into a Folk Fest pro.

The early bird gets the worm (part 1)

Festival patrons have the option of buying weekend passes (good for all Saturday and Sunday shows) or evening passes for particular nights. Regardless of what avenue you choose, one thing is certain—get your tickets early. The 2011 festival sold out in record time, with weekend passes selling out in less than 2 hours (leaving many fans without). Tickets can be bought over the phone, online, or in person. Stay tuned to FestivalSeekers for 2012 ticket information as it becomes available.

The early bird gets the worm (part 2)

The large main stage takes advantage of a natural amphitheatre created by the ski hill it sits on, and features three large screens broadcasting the performances, so almost any seat is a good seat. However, if you want your pick you must get there early. Get in there early in the morning and, like a prospector during the Klondike, stake your claim. Then, with your own piece of Gallagher Hill, sit back and enjoy the show.

Bring your family and friends

This is a party that welcomes all. Do not worry about finding a babysitter for the weekend or leaving the little ones at home. The festival caters to kids with a family fun area that includes activities, crafts, and games. There is also a tent catering to the return of lost kids and a general atmosphere of kid friendliness that extends to the concert-going public in attendance.

Do you homework

The sheer number of acts that perform every year is astounding, but it can make it very difficult to know exactly who you want to see. Luckily, most bands have an internet presence and can be listened to online. Then, grab your program and circle your favourites. At the same time, though, this tip should be taken with a grain of salt, as many Folk Fest veterans will tell you that discovering new acts at a live show is one of the appeals of the festival.

Pack the essentials

With all of the excitement of actually going to the festival and getting your groove on it is very easy to forget that you are essentially signing up to battle the elements for the weekend. This means that over a potential four days you will encounter the notoriously erratic Alberta weather, insects, and temperature changes. To be ready, pack right. A quick checklist to get you started

  • bug spray
  • sun screen
  • some waterproof clothing
  • water
  • a tarp ... for the love of God, bring a tarp

Of course you may want to customize this list depending on the needs of your group. Part of the fun is experiencing it for yourself, so get out there and enjoy.