Sled Island music and arts festival kicks off

The Sled Island festival of rock music, film, comedy and art kicks off Tuesday. Highlights include an appearance by '80s cult band The Jesus and Mary Chain.

Weeklong alternative rock fest now includes film, comedy and art shows

The Joel Plaskett Emergency is appearing at this year's Sled Island festival in Calgary. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Calgary's biggest alternative music and arts festival kicks off Tuesday.

More than 300 bands, artists, filmmakers and comics will perform at Sled Island this year and show their work around Calgary over the next week.

Maud Silva, Sled Island's executive director, says she hopes this year's edition will attract an audience of more than 30,000 people.

While many of the concerts are held in licensed venues, Silva says there are also all-ages events, including concerts at Olympic Plaza on the weekend.

  • Click on the "Listen" button above to hear the complete interview with Sled Island's Maud Silva

On the music side, artists booked to play this year's festival include legendary Scottish band The Jesus and Mary Chain, the Joel Plaskett Emergency from Halifax and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion out of New York City.

The festival begins at 4 p.m. Tuesday with a free public event at the RiverWalk in Calgary's East Village district.

Sled Island was founded in 2007 by Zak Pashak, the former owner of the Broken City club.

Originally a festival of alternative rock music, it has expanded to include film, comedy and visual art.