Sun Peaks Resort kicks off festival season
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Canadian rockers Big Sugar set the stage for a summer of music – and adventure – in the mountains
"Take a look at you. Lord have mercy!” Gordie Johnson exclaimed as he took the stage at Sun Peaks Resort on Canada Day weekend. “Canada, I know you can handle it."
Big Sugar’s lead singer was referring to his fans, including myself, who braved some wet weather to come hear the Juno Award-winning band’s many hits. As soon as they started in on The Scene, the rain stopped, the clouds lifted, and the huge crowd joined in. Could we handle it? Definitely.
That more than 2,000 fans, including families and little kids, ignored the elements to hear classic favourites such as Diggin’ a Hole and new jams like the awesome The Better it Gets the Easier it Gets to Get Better, speaks to Big Sugar’s popularity, and also the draw of live music in the mountains.
There’s something magical about sitting in nature’s open-air amphitheatre – in this case, a ski run that slopes down to the main stage, affording everyone in the audience a prime view – breathing in fresh alpine air against a backdrop of green-robed mountains. It clears the head and feeds the soul. Add in Johnson crooning If I Had My Way, and it doesn’t get any better.
We’d driven to Sun Peaks from Kelowna for the holiday weekend. My husband and I are both Big Sugar fans and though the band was the main draw for us, we were blown away by everything else happening on the mountain and in the village.
Mountain resorts traditionally known for winter skiing and snowboarding have become four-season playgrounds with packed events scheduled all summer long. Sun Peaks is no exception. While my husband did laps on the downhill mountain bike trails, I rode the Sunburst chairlift halfway up Tod Mountain for an alpine hike with my tween son and teenage daughter. We spotted ground squirrels, a deer and dozens of purple, pink and yellow wildflowers just beginning to blossom.
Afterwards, we took in the pumping vibe in the village, where families, couples, millennials – and more dogs and puppies than I’ve seen in a while – enjoyed the festivities. Children rode ponies and bounced on the bungee trampoline while swingers teed off at the driving range and would-be lumberjacks tried their arm at axe throwing. Everyone marvelled as world-famous chainsaw carver Ryan Cook turned a log into a grizzly bear in about 30 minutes.
The patios were packed with thirsty festival seekers sampling happy-hour beers, cocktails or glasses of B.C. wine. It was a pleasant way to spend a weekend and just a taste of what’s to come during July and August.
"There’s something going on every weekend," says Janice Hoppenreys, events manager for Tourism Sun Peaks. "We’ve got the concert series, plus hiking and mountain biking, canoeing at Lake McGillivray, trail rides, golfing and fly fishing."
Upcoming events include everything from a downhill mountain biking championship in July to the much-hyped Music in the Mountains festival in August. With such a stellar line-up, we may have to return to the resort later this summer.
If You Go
Don’t miss these Sun Peaks events:
The Alpine Blossom Festival, with hikes above tree line to see the wildflowers, takes place in late July each summer.
The Retro Concert Weekend returns annually mid-Aug. 10-12 with tribute bands.
Music in the Mountains comes to Sun Peaks in late August, with headliners like Dan Mangan and Bedouin Soundclash.
General access is free for all events
Grab accommodation at Sun Peaks Resort for as low as $119 per night.
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