Northern Lights Festival Boréal

Northern Lights Festival Boréal
Photo: nlfbsudbury.com
Northern Lights Festival Boréal is an annual folk festival held in the Canadian city of Greater Sudbury, Ontario on the first weekend in July. It is the oldest music festival in Canada and one of the most important cultural events in Northern Ontario.

The first Northern Lights Festival Boréal (NLFB) was held in Bell Park in 1972 as the Northern Lights Folk Festival. It was a free one-day event that had only one stage. Although the Mariposa Folk Festival founded in 1961 is nominally older, it was defunct from 1980 to 1981, which makes NLFB the longest continually running outdoor music festival in Canada.

One of the main features of Northern Lights Festival Boréal is that its a bilingual event. It features both francophone and anglophone performers from all over Ontario and other Canadian provinces, presenting the best of Canadian roots and modern music. The festival is held in Bell Park in downtown Seadbury. The main stage is the Great Hartman Amphitheater which features fixed seating for about 560 people and grass seating for an additional 1,400. There also are smaller acoustic stages for those who prefer more intimate concerts.

Every year NLFB welcomes a lot of famous folk and rock performers from Canada and abroad. Artists who have performed in Greater Sudbury include Ron Sexsmith, Kate Maki, Serena Ryder, Daniel Lanios, Dan Managan, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Miracle Fortress, Steven Page, Kathleen Edwards, Lee Harvey Osmond, and more. The festival also strives to discover new talent and provide a platform for emerging musicians.

Alongside live performances, the program of Northern Lights Festival Boréal includes workshops, improvised jam sessions, special children’s events, and more. Of course, there’s a traditional arts and crafts fair where festival-goes can find unique items to suit any taste and budget.

NLFB presents an annual Jackie Washington Award to honor distinguished contributions to the cultural life of Northern Ontario. The award is named after Canadian blues musician Jackie Washington who performed at the festival 25 times between its inauguration in 1972 and Washington’s death in 2009. Another award presented at NLFB is the Bernie Melanson Volunteer Award. It was named after one of the festival’s founding members and is given for exceptional and/or long standing volunteer service to the event.

Northern Lights Festival Boréal

Photo: nlfbsudbury.com



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