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Frosty festival warms music lovers’ hearts

Winterruption is making a comeback
after a two-year COVID hiatus

The Faps perform at the Winterruption Festival in Edmonton in January 2020. (Eric Kozakiewicz)

By Savannah Parker

IN A CITY where we are accustomed to staying indoors for at least six months of the year, one festival seeks to bring the energy of a summer music festival to Edmonton’s most frigid season.

Winterruption YEG is finally making a comeback after a series of COVID-related delays.

The festival starts March 27 and runs until April 9.

The concept was developed to promote the appreciation of a city that spends a good chunk of the year in a deep freeze, by encouraging people to get bundled up and enjoy a series of outdoor events that include live music, comedy and drag performances.

“If you look to other cities that are in larger centres, that are in colder climates – I’m thinking like Sweden and Finland and Norway, and places like that – they have quite a few winter festivals,” festival organizer, Brent Oliver says.

While there are several outdoor events, there are also many opportunities to warm up at the indoor shows.

“The whole idea is that the event is walkable,” Oliver says. “You can just walk from the Starlite to the Rocky Mountain Ice House to see another band, and you’ll only be outside for five or 10 minutes.”

The festival also helps to promote artists and venues that are traditionally experiencing a slow time of year.

‘Not a lot of bands
tour in January’

“Not a lot of bands tour in January, for obvious reasons, in Canada,” he adds. “So this helps them out a lot, too.”

This year’s lineup features such acts as comedian Gavin Crawford, drag artist Morgan McMichaels and scores of bands, including Tops, Snotty Nose Rez Kids, TEKE::TEKE, The Darcys and Alberta’s own St. Arnaud, which is set to release its sophomore album in June.

“We’re a very accessible act,” bandleader Ian St. Arnaud says. “They have us on the outdoor stage this year – it’s one of the great free shows they are running. I’m hoping the weather holds up.”

Many of the events are family-friendly and free, and a festival pass will set you back just $45.

The festival has its roots in other outdoor festivals in the Prairies, such as Calgary’s Big Winter Classic and Saskatoon’s and Regina’s Winterruption festivals.

Other cities have joined the festival circuit as well.

“There has since been added a one-day festival in Swift Current called Winterruption and one in Winnipeg as well,” Oliver says. “So there are now six of us all together.”

The expansion of Winterruption is welcome news for St. Arnaud, which has a reputation for being a darling of the festival circuit.

“Festivals are the best,” Ian St. Arnaud says. “You can get a big lineup, which draws in a very different crowd, and you get other bands’ audiences. The festivals always take great care of us, and Winterruption is no exception.”

For more information on the festival or to buy tickets, go here.

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