British Columbia

New festival in Victoria aims to be safe space for people recovering from addiction

A new summer music and comedy festival is aiming to create a safe space for people recovering from alcohol or substance abuse.

No beer tents or drug use condoned at Sober Fest, which takes place Aug. 27

Mike Manhas, organizer of Sober Fest, which will take place on Aug. 27, 2022, in Victoria.
Mike Manhas, organizer of Sober Fest, which will take place on Aug. 27, 2022, in Victoria. All the proceeds will go toward a spot at a recovery centre for someone in need. (Submitted by Mike Manhas)

A new summer music and comedy festival in Victoria is aiming to create a safe space for people recovering from alcohol or substance addiction.

Sober Fest, which will take place Aug. 27, will feature 10 musicians and 10 comedians and all the proceeds will go toward a spot at a recovery centre for someone in need.

Organizer Mike Manhas says after his recovery from more than 20 years of alcohol and cocaine abuse he found it hard to be near beer tents at music festivals.

"I noticed all the festivals we're surrounded by a lot of drug use and beer tents and I just wanted to create a safe place for people in recovery to come to just celebrate and have fun," Manhas said on CBC's On the Island.

He said the artists playing range in genre from hip hop to rock to folk and blues.

'Very positive' thing

Gabor Mate, a physician and expert in addiction, says any event that celebrates people enjoying their time without relying on substances or alcohol is a positive thing.

He said he's glad to see Sober Fest bringing together musicians and comedians to celebrate sobriety.

Mike Minhas next to a large dog.
Manhas says after his recovery from more than 20 years of alcohol and cocaine abuse he found it hard to be near beer tents at music festivals. (Mike Manhas/Submitted)

"It is very well documented that comedians are very often very traumatized ... so these people have very difficult lives and anything that celebrates their coming together for their sobriety is a very positive thing," Mate said.

He said for people with addiction the hardest thing is to be comfortable near people who are indulging in alcohol and drugs.

The festival will take place at 3498 Luxton Rd. in Victoria from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets are available by contacting Manhas at mikemanhas@yahoo.ca.

With files from On the Island

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