The Edmonton Folk Music Festival was founded in 1980, just like the Edmonton Pride Festival! With an original team consisting of one staff member and around 300 volunteers, the first Edmonton Folk Music Festival – “Folk Fest” for short – built a strong foundation that would grow into an annual 4-day musical staple in the lives of Edmontonians.
Featuring artists from around the world, specialising in genres that tie back into folk roots, the Folk Fest ensures that all musical tastes are satisfied. From Thursday to Sunday in the beginning of August, musicians play both solo sets and in workshops in conjunction with other musicians. While solo sets are what we all dream of seeing in-person, the workshops are a one-of-a-kind, once-in-a-lifetime experience. They meld diverse genres together to create something unique and beautiful that you have to see and hear to believe.
The layout of the festival grounds is quite simple: several stages (including the main stage), an artisanal market, a merchandise shop, food vendors, and a beer garden. You enter the festival grounds at either the top or bottom of Gallagher Park, which happens to be a natural amphitheatre! The main stage is hard to miss as its tent is the most prominent with hundreds, if not thousands, of tarps and blankets laid around it. The other stages, which are easily identifiable by their green and white tents, are along the main path. This path will take you through the other amenities listed above. We recommend getting your hand on a Folk Fest pamphlet, which is provided during the festival at a cost, to help guide you to where you need to go!
The crowds, though large, are incredibly engaging and attentive. You will find several dancers closer to the stages as well as many heliophiles daydreaming in the distance. Families and music lovers of all ages will be seen throughout the festival grounds. The only thing that is not child-friendly is the beer garden, which is 18+; otherwise, it is recommended for parents to keep an eye out for their children so that they do not become separated.
Interested yet? Tickets can be purchased for single days of the week (Thursday and Friday nights or Saturday and Sunday full days) or as 4-day passes. Be sure to review the lineup in advance to see if anything sparks your interest so that you know which day(s) to attend. If your budget allows, however, we strongly encourage opting for the 4-day pass as you will be exposed to so much talent that you never knew existed. You may also discover your new favourite artist!
A few extra tips:
- Bring a tarp to set at the main stage to “claim” your spot for the headlining acts in the evening. If you sit near the top of the hill, you get the most beautiful view of downtown Edmonton. 2. The beer garden is a time warp – be wary of how long you are in there for. You may enter in the early afternoon and before you know it, it’s nighttime. 3. SUNSCREEN, WATER, SNACKS. BRING THEM. 4. Be prepared to buy your tickets as soon as they go on sale. They sell out FAST.