Sled Island festival cancelled for 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic

Sled Island music and arts festival has been cancelled for 2020.

Artists like Pussy Riot and the Black Angels were scheduled to perform

Concertgoers are pictured at a 2017 Sled Island show. The annual Calgary festival won't take place in 2020 due to COVID-19. (Bobbi Barbarich)

Sled Island music and arts festival has been cancelled for 2020.

The Calgary festival, which has been held each June since 2007, was scheduled to run from June 24 to 28. 

On April 3 the city announced a ban on all festivals and large gatherings until the end of June due to the global coronavirus pandemic. The city is currently under a state of local emergency.

"While this news obviously comes as a huge disappointment, we would like to acknowledge and applaud that the city is taking this necessary step to contain the spread of COVID-19 and alleviate the pressure on our health care system to best care for those affected by it," the festival said in a statement posted to its website.

"Perhaps most devastating to us is knowing the impact that these cancellations will have on our beloved community … we are committed to working hard for this community's recovery, leveraging our energy, networks and resources to ensure that it returns stronger than ever."

The festival will be postponed until 2021, though there's no guarantee that artists who were slated to join for this year's lineup — like the Black Angels, Pussy Riot and guest curator Sudan Archives — will return. 

Sled Island said the scope of its festival meant it would be too difficult to simply postpone the event until later this year, especially as it takes place in more than 30 venues around the city. 

Those venues, the festival said, are facing harsh economic realities and for those that are able to reopen, questions remain as to when they'll be able to do so and at what capacity.

Refunds will be issued to pass and ticketholders who request them, or Sled Island said people can transfer their tickets to next year's festival or make a donation to support the organization.

Two other cancellations were announced Monday. The 2020 Canadian Rockies Gay Rodeo was postponed until 2021, and Lilac Festival has been postponed until fall.

As of Monday, there was no word yet on whether or not other large Calgary events scheduled for later in the summer like the Stampede and Folk Festival will proceed.