The month of music 

Whistler makes plans to host music festival one week before Pemberton Festival

It’s looking like the Sea to Sky corridor is going to be the musical Mecca of B.C. this summer.

In addition to the highly anticipated Pemberton Festival taking place in Area C from July 25 to 27, Whistler is now working on plans to host a two-day festival on July 19 and 20, at Base 2 on Blackcomb.

The event, dubbed Whistler Music Festival, is the result of a joint partnership between Whistler-Blackcomb, Tourism Whistler, and the Resort Municipality of Whistler, who are collaborating with the Festival Network.

The three local organizations signed a non-exclusive, multi-year contract with the Festival Network earlier this year to provide various events for Whistler.

“Everything they do is kind of top-notch, first-class, and I think there is a benchmark there to bring something in and do it right,” said Jay Sweet, a producer for the Festival Network.

The festival has been in the works for well over a year now, and will feature performances by five to six acts each day, with possible nighttime performances at partnering venues throughout the village.

While Sweet said they have already secured five acts, they have offers on the table to other bands, and are waiting for all of the potential acts to confirm before they release their lineup. But he hinted that bands that came to town for the World Ski and Snowboard Festival are indicative of the types of acts they hope to bring for their festival.

“We are really basing our lineup to feed the musically insatiable Whistler community,” said Sweet, “We really spent some time talking to people on the mountain and people who work in businesses by the mountain and around the mountain, about what they want to hear.”

He added that they are working on an eclectic, curated lineup that will appeal to a wide variety of people. And while there will be a lot of recognizable names in the lineup, he hopes the Whistler community will be receptive to some new names they are working on bringing to town.

“We believe and we trust that the town is open-minded enough to come check it out regardless of… whether you know the bands or not,” he said, “It’s going to be really fun, and really good.”

Breton Murphy, spokesperson for Tourism Whistler, confirmed that the three local organizations are working with the Festival Network to develop an annual music festival, but added that they are waiting for the company to meet a number of deliverables, which include a confirmed lineup, by the end of May before they officially sign on to the event.

“The structure that we’ve established with our in-resort partners is that that event producer is taking 100 per cent of the risk in a concert,” Murphy explained.

The three local organizations are currently in the process of doing their own due diligence, reviewing the information gathered by the Festival Network to ensure that the event is a sound investment.

“What we want more than anything else is for this to be a success,” said Murphy.

After the last-minute KISS concert fell through last fall, Whistler residents are understandingly hesitant to get excited about large events like this. But Sweet emphasizes that Festival Network had nothing to do with that event, and will be taking an entirely different approach to the Whistler Music Festival, offering a well-rounded selection of performers and activities.

“We’re in it for the long haul, so we want to do it right and not try to blow it out the first year,” said Sweet. “Slow and steady wins the race.”

And while the timing of Whistler’s event may raise a few eyebrows, Sweet said they didn’t intentionally select the date of the Whistler Music Festival to coincide with the Pemberton Festival.

He added that they are trying to create a smaller event that is more focused on the Whistler community, and something they hope could turn into an annual event, which will evolve naturally from year to year based on feedback from the community.

“We’ve looked at everything that’s going on, and we still feel that what we’re creating is an original community event,” Sweet explained. “…There’s no such thing as too much music.”

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