Sudbury·Audio

Sudbury summer festivals cancelled or scaled back for second year

Summer is just a few months away, but the usual summer festivals in Sudbury won't be going ahead as usual this year. Northern Lights Festival Boréal announced this week that it has cancelled its July festival. Despite hopes that a smaller scale festival may be possible, marketing and communications coordinator Cassandra Vanderpluym said it came to a point where organizers had to make a decision.

Northern Lights Festival Boréal cancelled, other festivals to be reimagined

Up Here festival goers in 2015. The Sudbury festival won't be bringing together large crowds this summer, but organizers hope small-scale live music events could be possible come August. (Evan Bergstra/Up Here Festival Facebook)

Summer is just a few months away, but the usual summer festivals in Sudbury won't be going ahead as usual this year.

Northern Lights Festival Boréal announced this week it has cancelled its July festival. Despite hopes that a smaller scale festival may be possible, marketing and communications coordinator Cassandra Vanderpluym said it came to a point where organizers had to make a decision.

"We waited to put the cancellation out, because you know we had our fingers and toes crossed that we could maybe potentially do something. However planning a festival in such a large scale like ours takes a lot of lead time and planning. And it just wasn't feasible to keep planning something that could not happen or could happen," Vanderpluym said. 

While making the call was sad for organizers, Vanderpluym said ultimately the ongoing health risks of COVID-19 made it a straightforward decision. 

'Season of programming' 

For Up Here Festival co-founder Christian Pelletier, there's no question that things won't be back to normal in 2021. Even so, he said organizers are busy planning a series of events for August, with lots of flexibility built in. 

Plans include public art murals — something Up Here also went ahead with last summer — and Pelletier hopes there could also be opportunities for live music, on a much smaller scale, with outdoor performances from local artists. 

Christian Pelletier is the co-founder of the Up Here festival in Sudbury. He says more murals will be added to the city this summer, and he hopes some small music events will be possible as well. (Radio-Canada)

"It will be less of a festival, and more of a, I'd say maybe even like a season of programing," Pelletier said. 

Pelletier noted Up Here has the advantage of taking place in August — giving organizers a little more time to plan and adapt to whatever the COVID-19 reality may be. 

Second virtual Pride Week

Meanwhile Fierté Sudbury Pride has announced it will be hosting a virtual Pride week in July again this year. Chair Alex Tétreault said when the board was organizing last year's "Queerantine" Pride Week, they never imagined they'd be doing so again a year later. 

"I remember distinctly us saying … 'it's only going to be for this year, and hopefully next year we won't be in this situation anymore, or things will have improved enough that we can at least do some stuff in person.' Right now it's not necessarily looking that way," Tétreault said. 

Fierté Sudbury Pride will host a virtual Pride week again this year, with the hope of returning to in-person events, including the Pride parade, in 2022. (Bienvenu Senga/Radio-Canada)

Tétreault said organizers will benefit this year from having a formula they already tested last year. He said right now his big hope is that in-person Pride Week events will be possible in 2022, for what will be the 25th annual Pride celebrations in Sudbury. 

"As fun as it is to still have a virtual festival, it can't compare to like the actual, the actual feeling, the thrill, the excitement, just the fun of being, of just being together as a community."

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