After a “complicated and painful” few years, Sled Island is back in Calgary this week.
Festival director Shawn Petsche said returning to the local music and arts event in 2022 felt like a homecoming.
“For a lot of people, it feels like cutting the ribbon,” he told CTV News. “We’re finally back to making music and playing music like we used to.”
After two years of pandemic cancellations and audibles, the festival is sold out and eager to get started. It started on Wednesday and will continue until Sunday. Concerts and art-related events attract over 40,000 attendees each year.
“It’s five days, 240 bands and 25 venues,” Petsche said. “We have something like 300 volunteers. Basically, we like to think Sled Island is going to take over the town for four or five days.”
Many of the 25 stages – especially the smaller ones – have had a devastating few years. COVID-19 has forced cancellations and closures. So for many businesses, this year’s Sled Island means more than a few parties.
“We made the most money we ever made on a Wednesday (last night),” Kaffeeklatsch owner Jessica McCarrel said. “I’m pretty sure (the attendees) are having a fabulous time and they will remember it and come back in the future.”
The cafe is hosting bands for the first time this year after Tubby Dog – a Sled favorite for gigs of all ages – closed its doors.
McCarrel is hoping for a small financial boost after opening the cafe during the pandemic. She feels optimistic.
“It really adds to Calgary’s cultural landscape and excitement,” she said.
Sled Island – which includes music, films and art gallery exhibits – runs through Sunday evening.
For more lineup and schedule information, visit sledisland.com.