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Everything you need to know about Sled Island 2024

By Ansharah Shakil, June 10 2024—

Annual music festival Sled Island will be kicking into gear from June 19 to 23 with a jam-packed schedule of events and a lineup of 150 local and international artists. Among the diverse and exciting bands and artists headlining the festival, is the festival’s special programming of comedy, film, art and conference events. In an interview with the Gauntlet, Maud Salvi, executive director of the festival, spoke about what to look forward to for the festival. 

“What I enjoy most about Sled Island is the way in which the city, particularly downtown and the Beltline, comes alive, given that we activate over 20 venues in our festival area,” Salvi said. “I love seeing an influx of people outside, walking or biking from one venue to the next. It feels more vibrant and more alive than an average week in Calgary.”

As a multi-venue festival, Sled Island events will be taking place in the Alcove Centre for the Arts, King Eddy, Loophole Coffee Bar, Modern Love and Palace Theatre just to name a few. A new venue for this year is Blox Arts Centre, while conference panels about the music industry will take place at Central Library. 

“Sled Island plays a major part in nurturing Calgary’s music scene,” Salvi said. “We’re by far the festival that presents the most local artists each year. I think on average we have probably 65 to 75 local bands. We also always have at least a dozen local visual artists. But we also bring international acts that would never come to Calgary if it wasn’t for Sled Island.”

This year’s lineup includes international headliners rapper Mick Jenkins, indie rocker Cherry Glazer and punk band Show Me the Body — some of whom are returning to Sled Island after years — like Kari Faux. There are also plenty of Canadian artists, such as singer-songwriter aniqa dear. Local favourites Sargeant x Comrade, Tea Fannie and the Collective and Quit It! will be returning to the festival. 

Salvi noted that Juana Molina is one of the most interesting acts set to perform.“Back in the 90s, she was a comedian in Argentina, like a very famous one, on public television. And at the peak of her fame, she decided to quit, to focus on music, which was her first love,” Salvi explained. “She’s really established herself as an iconic figure, and I’m excited because I believe she’s in her early 60s and I feel like we don’t see enough women of that age being represented in mainstream culture.” 

Beyond the concerts, the festival will include the annual Sled Island Poster Show, Sled Island Drag Brunch and Punk Rock Bingo. Family-friendly Sled Alley, which took place last year in the alleyway behind Palace Theatre, will now be taking place in a bigger space near Stephen Ave with a mobile skate park, non-alcoholic bar, free arts activities and artisan market. On the 18th, Globe Cinema will present the Alberta premiere of Swamp Dogg Gets His Pool Painted to celebrate the beginning of the festival. This year’s 2024 comedy headliner is JUNO-nominated stand-up comedian Courtney Gilmour. 

“What we want people to know about the festival is that it doesn’t matter if you know any of the artists that are on our posters. We’re really a music discovery festival, so the whole appeal is to come to discover new artists,” Salvi said. “Personally, there is nothing that gives me the same feeling as stumbling upon a band and something really good that you had no idea you were going to come across. It always gives me a really special feeling, and that’s the same feeling that we’re hoping we can provide to all of our attendees.”

One way the festival leans into this idea is through hosting a trivia night called But I Don’t Know Any of the Bands on June 6, at Pin Bar. People are welcome to use Google to fill out the questions, and if they do, they are entered into a contest to win passes to the festival. 

“We’re all here for the same thing, to enjoy music, to be curious, to discover,” Salvi said. “The fact that we use all of these different venues and that we have so many different local partners creates [a] community of people, including our numerous volunteers, that are all working toward the same goal [and] where the atmosphere is really joyful.”

More information and tickets can be found on the Sled Island website.

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