Sudbury’s music scene offers something for everyone with three festivals set for this summer

Next week, Sudbury's Northern Lights Festival Boreal celebrates its 50th anniversary with its first big festival in two years.

Organizers said they are excited to return to the live stage.

“We’re going back to our regular format, so that’s six stages including our after hours venues downtown and over 100 shows,” said Northern Lights Festival Boreal Artistic Director Max Merrifield.

“We’re super excited."

The four-day event features music, art and lots of food.

“There’ll be everything from painters, sculptors, canoe builders, all kinds of artists and makers, some demonstrating, some vending,” he said.

“You can get all your Christmas shopping done at the Northern Lights Festival, lots of cool, unique handmade goods. Great food venders as well and there’s a whole family stage dedicated to families and kids.”

Merrifield said anyone 14 and younger gets in free.

On top of headliners like St. Paul & The Broken Bones, New Pornographers and Judy Collins, the annual event also includes local performers like musician Jonathan Danyliw, who's been performing at NLFB every year since at least 2009.

“I look forward to (the festival) every year and a lot of other people in the community and people who just love music look forward to every year,” said Danyliw with Bad Actors.

“It’s sort of becomes a world into itself. So it's your whole life for three or four days and it’s really fun to just, you know, be absorbed into that.”

He praised the local organizers, call them 'first class."

"It’s easy to set up and play, which is always a treat. It’s always a good crowd there, people are interested in discovering new things at music festivals a lot of the time.”

Danyliw said he’s looking forward to the workshop stages that sees members from different bands work together.

Summer Concert Series

Also returning is Sudbury’s Summer Concert Series, bringing in big names like Brett Kissell, Kip Moore, Blue Rodeo and The Arkells.

“Country and rock are always a big hit in Sudbury,” said Jeff Sebben, Cabin Media president, which is putting the concert series on.

“I don’t want people to leave. I want to make sure that the city of Sudbury has live entertainment happening, I want to make sure that there’s stuff for people to do and I like seeing smiles on people’s faces."

Although not coming up until the end of August, Sebben said both Blue Rodeo and The Arkells are already sold out with the other two shows not far behind.

“Our focus is on bringing people into Sudbury," he said.

"Our marketing and advertising goes from Barrie all the way to Thunder Bay. Most ticket sales on events like this are 15-20 per cent of ticket sales are from out of town address that we’ve got data on. So it’s very cool to see that. It gives hotels a chance and restaurants, gas stations, everything, everything to do with the city.”

Up Here returns

Finally, throwing what organizers are calling the end of summer party is the eighth annual Up Here Festival.

“We’re coming back with a vengeance, coming back in full force,” said Up Here co-founder Christian Pelletier.

It’s set to take over Durham Street in downtown Sudbury again with its public art and mural theme.

“It’s been really nice to see the progressive growth of the festival throughout the years," Pelletier said.

"The first few years people weren’t too sure what to expect because we are an emerging music festival. We tend to present a lot of acts that aren’t necessarily household names, but when people see they’re like ‘why didn’t I know this? This is incredible.'"

Like the other festivals, Up Here offers a lot more than just live music.

“I like to think that festivals are a city at its best and we’ve got such an eclectic range of festivals in Sudbury, we all compliment each other so nicely and I think we’ve got a really cool thing going here,” Pelletier said.

With three different music festivals to choose from, all featuring different genres, artists and activities, it’s promising to be an action packed summer in the city.

Officials said the events will help draw people to the city.

“We see a lot of guests come in from different areas within our region,” said Lara Fielding, tourism and culture manager with Greater Sudbury.

“So in those three- and four-day events, they draw a lot of tourists and extra stays and spending in our community which is very important to our businesses.”

Fielding said after two years of virtual events, the local festivals have a broad appeal to people eager to get out and explore again.

“It hits everybody’s boxes of what they want to do – whether it’s an outdoor experience, an indoor experience, arts, culture, great activities and we’re surrounded by 330 lakes so get out and explore,” she said.