Sudbury

Northern Lights Festival Boréal cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns

This time, the show will not go on. Northern Lights Festival Boréal (NFLB) has announced that the popular arts and music long weekend in Greater Sudbury will not happen this year due to COVID-19.

Festival has been an annual event in Sudbury since 1972

NLFB goers in 2019 taking in a show at the Grace Hartman Amphitheatre. (City of Greater Sudbury)

This time, the show will not go on.

Northern Lights Festival Boréal (NFLB) has announced that the popular arts and music long weekend in Greater Sudbury will not happen this year due to COVID-19. This year, the annual event was scheduled to take place along the shores of Ramsey Lake between July 9-12.

The festival has been a signature summer arts event in Sudbury since 1972.

"It's not something that's done with any amount of joy or even relief," Max Merrifield, executive and artist director of NLFB said. "But the decision did seem pretty much inevitable. I guess there is some comfort in knowing we're doing the right thing and there wasn't really much we could have done."

Merrifield says the decision came after consulting with numerous people and groups including public health officials and other music festival organizers.

"When we heard Toronto had banned all events until the end of June that definitely was a bit of an eye opener for us," he said.

Merrifield says at this point, it's a bit of a feat to cancel as advance ticket sales have already taken place.

"We're offering those who were good enough to support us in advance the option to make a charitable donation to us to help us through this period or roll over their ticket to 2021," he said. "Or they can get a full refund."

Max Merrifield is the executive and artist director of Northern Lights Festival Boréal. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

He says organizers were not too far ahead in the planning and booking process, meaning there hasn't been a lot of deposits paid out to secure talent. Merrifield says he anticipates the festival will return in the future.

"We're still looking to have programming this summer and use digital means of getting it out there," he said.

"We're really looking forward to our 50th in 2021."

He adds to achieve that, it will take careful budget planning.

"We're fortunate that a lot of our funders have been understanding and flexible and plan to continue to invest despite that there will not be a festival this summer," he said.

"Even some of our corporate sponsors have done that as well. It's going to be challenging, but I think the organization isn't in any serious danger of going anywhere."

With files from Jessica Pope

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