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Photo by Daman Singh

Sled Alley exemplifies the best characteristics of Sled Island 

By Ansharah Shakil, June 26 2023—

While Sled Island may be more well-known for its late-night shows featuring local and international artists, there’s a lot that goes into the festival outside of concerts — art events, conferences, block parties and of course, Sled Alley, which took place from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. on June 23.

Sled Alley is a free event which was held by Sled Island partnered with the Calgary Downtown Association (CDA). It seeks to provide a bit of family-friendly fun and a welcoming place for festival enjoyers to relax before heading to more venues. On Friday afternoon, the alleyway behind the Palace Theatre was completely transformed to include vendors, food, drinks, music and decorations. Fake grass was installed, balloons were hung up and charming furniture was set out to provide a perfect place to sit and relax amidst the more chaotic parts of Sled Island. 

Photo by Daman Singh

It’s easy to walk right past Sled Alley, and then do a double-take to see how a simple alleyway was changed into something far more lively and exciting. Local vendors, set up beneath tents at the sides of the alleyway, got the chance to display their art and creations, including tote bags, stickers, clothing and jewelry. A shop at the very front of the alleyway sold records, vinyl and CDs — local or obscure artists was featured, but as were CDs or vinyl by artists cemented in pop culture or by more well-known international artists. It showcased the talent Calgarians have and promoted local work.

The vendors were friendly and talkative, and they had plenty of unique items up for sale. Of course, there was food as well, including the Arepas Ranch food truck. There were plenty of things to discover, and it was possible to spend lots of time sitting on a chair in the grass, enjoying food, listening to music after strolling through the vendors’ shops on a lovely day, being able to kick back and consider attending other Sled Island events. 

Photo by Daman Singh

Sled Alley closed a bit early due to the rain, but at the beginning of the day, the weather fully cooperated with the event. The sunshine allowed the alleyway to shine and created a carefree atmosphere. The first DJ, Adam Kamis, played bouncy, upbeat music perfect for the summer. Other DJs included Christine Leonard, Jess Arcand and Ben Goodman. Since music is at the core of Sled Island, it would be remiss for the music at any Sled Island event to be lacking — but at Sled Alley, it certainly wasn’t. The music increased the enjoyment of attendees instead.

Photo by Daman Singh

The space that Sled Alley provided was essential for the festival, and for people who were unsure about what Sled Island had to offer other than concerts, it illustrated the other exciting parts of Sled Island while also still keeping music as an important characteristic of the festival. Sled Alley was an event which celebrated the things people love about Sled Island. It created beauty from the mundane and was certainly a successful Sled Island event this year.

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