Sled Island kicks off Calgary’s summer festival season

After a couple “complicated and painful” years, Sled Island is back in Calgary this week. 

Festival manager Shawn Petsche said returning to the local music and arts event in 2022 is like a homecoming. 

“For a lot of people, it feels like the actual ribbon cutting,” he told CTV News. “We’re finally back to making music and playing music like we used to.”

After two years of pandemic cancellations and audibles, the fest is fully booked and raring to go. It kicked off Wednesday and runs until Sunday. The concerts and art-related events draw more than 40,000 attendees every year. 

“It’s five days, 240 bands and 25 venues,” Petsche said. “We’ve got something like 300 volunteers. Basically, we like to think of it as Sled Island is just going to take over the city for four or five days.”

Many of the 25 stages — especially the smaller ones — have had a devastating few years. COVID-19 forced cancellations and closures. So to many businesses, this year’s Sled Island means more than just a few parties. 

“We made the most amount of money that we’ve ever made on a Wednesday (last night),” Kaffeeklatsch owner Jessica McCarrel said. “I’m pretty sure that (attendees) are having a fabulous time and they will remember that and they will come back in the future.”

The coffee shop is hosting bands for the first time ever this year after Tubby Dog — a Sled favourite for all ages concerts — closed its doors. 

McCarrel is hoping to receive a bit of a financial boost after opening the cafe during the pandemic. She’s feeling optimistic. 

“This is really contributing to the cultural landscape of Calgary and to the excitement,” she said. 

Sled Island — which includes music, films and art gallery shows — runs until Sunday night. 

For more information on the lineup and schedule, visit sledisland.com.

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