Manitoba

Big Fun Festival kicks off 5th year in Winnipeg

Winnipeg's Big Fun Festival is looking back to its beginning for its fifth anniversary festival, which kicks off tonight.

'The most amazing thing I've learned is how this city comes out for its own'

Slow Leaves plays the 2015 Big Fun Festival. (Greg Gallinger)

Winnipeg's Big Fun Festival is looking back to its beginning for its fifth anniversary festival, which kicks off Wednesday.

The multi-genre music festival is still all about getting people out of their homes during the dark, bitterly cold month to see local talent at different venues, but this year is special for the organizers.

"There's that nostalgia feel this year," said Lauren Swan, one of the founders of the five-day festival.

Big Fun was founded and planned in 2012 at the Lo Pub, which used to be at the corner of Kennedy Street and Ellice Avenue. Jack Jonasson, who used to manage the pub, is headlining the festival this year with his band Novillero on Saturday night at The Good Will.

A crowd at The Good Will enjoys a Big Fun show. (Josh Dookhie)
Eryn Maloney, a founder who moved to Toronto after the festival's first year, is flying back to do sound tech for events at RAW: almond, which is a new venue this year.

"We're bringing everyone back home to celebrate," Swan said.

New to Big Fun this year are shows on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the winter pop-up restaurant RAW: almond.

"It's the best venue that encompasses everything about Big Fun — the celebration of winter in the Prairies and also, the highlighting of our music scene," Swan said. "They've made it look like this enchanted forest. It's still going to be really wonderful."

Fans embraced past Big Fun Hangover breakfasts at the Good Will. (Jenny Ramone)
Many of the 50 bands are from Manitoba, but some artists are brought in from across North America, such as pop musician Calvin Love from Edmonton and punk band Super Thief from Austin, Texas. 

"That's going to be a really great show, because the opening bands are all local, and they're all really awesome," she said about the Calvin Love show on Thursday. 

The organizers admit they never thought the festival would go on for five years, and they're still amazed every time people line up in the cold weather to wait for a show.

Yes We Mystic plays at the West End Cultural Centre during a past Big Fun Festival. (Joey Visser)
"Last year it was –50 C weather on the Sunday for the breakfast show, and it was packed," Swan said. "The most amazing thing I've learned is how this city comes out for its own and supports that sense of community."

Advance tickets are available through Ticketfly for Calvin Love, RAW: almond, Fist City, Novillero, Yes We Mystic with Close Talker and Micah Visser, and the Big Fun Hangover Breakfast. 

The festival runs Jan. 27-31.

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