Summer festivals grapple with decisions to cancel, postpone or hope

City events have been cancelled in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge and Guelph. Now, a number of summer festivals must determine what to do about their events. 
The Ever After music festival has been cancelled due to COVID-19. Meanwhile, other local festivals are trying to determine their next steps. (Anastasia Velicescu/Ever After Music Fest Facebook)

City events have been cancelled in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge and Guelph. Now, a number of summer festivals must determine what to do about their events. 

Elora Festival, Ever After and the KW Multicultural Festival are cancelled. For others, the decision making process continues.

Summer Lights Festival — Postponed

Location: Downtown Kitchener

Date: June 6

Even though the City of Kitchener has cancelled all events until the end of June, Charlene LeDuc, Artistic Director of Summer Lights, says the festival is postponed — not cancelled — until sometime in the fall.

Kultrun World Music Festival — Postponed

Location: Victoria Park, Kitchener

Date: July 9 to 13

Founder Isabel Cisterna says that they have "already made the decision to postpone/change the format for this year."

There will be an online, interactive component, featuring a concert by Alex Cuba in May. 

Cisterna says that when it is safe to hold live events, they "will hold them in the fall."

Hillside Festival — Postponed

Location: Guelph Lake Island

Date: July 24 to 26

Artistic Director Samir Baijal says that "the clock on everything has accelerated so much" and a decision on whether to go ahead with the event "is very much on the horizon, closer rather than further." 

Baijal cites safety and listening to authorities, as the key factor in their decision.

Kitchener Blues Festival — Postponed

Location: Downtown Kitchener 

Date: Aug. 6 to 9

"We're taking our advice from the experts and what they're recommending," Rob Barkshire said.

Riverfest Elora — Postponed

Location: Bissel Park

Date: Aug. 21 to 23

Artistic director and festival manager Spencer Shewen says that, for now, "We're still moving forward as if the festival's happening."

He said because it's farther off, they "don't have to make a decision for a few weeks."

They pushed their line-up announcement from March 25 to the beginning of May.

Bestival — On track

Location: Belmont Village, Kitchener

Date: Sept. 18 to 19

This newer festival takes place on the last weekend of summer.

That has founder, Tim Moher, optimistic that it could still happen, but they are keeping their options open "for a live, or a virtual festival."

"With so much uncertainty, we can't possibly know what our lives will be like in September," he said, adding they will have to make a decision by June 1 at the latest.

Updated May 20, 2020.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?