How to Make the Most of the Newfoundland & Labrador Folk Festival
Every summer the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival wraps up the craziest and busiest two weeks in St. John’s. The madness starts with the George Street Festival, which leads up to the Regatta, which gives way to the Buskers Festival and the Folk Festival. It’s the best time of year to be in the city.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival is a family-friendly three day extravaganza, filled with beautiful music, stories, dance, art, and more. It’s a celebration of Newfoundland culture of the highest order and attracts folks from all over the globe. It may also be the most inclusive festival on the go, making sure that all those who want to take part are able to do so.
The sheer amount of activity can be a bit overwhelming so you want to go in with a game plan. If you’ve never been to the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival in St. John’s yourself, I’ve got a few tips to help you get the most out of your first experience.
Walk, Cab, or Take the Bus
If you’re visiting the city, book your accommodations within walking distance from Bannerman Park. It will just save you the aggravation of trying to find a parking spot, since there are not nearly enough spaces for festival attendees. A more convenient, but more expensive option would be to call a cab (head’s up – we don’t have Uber). You could also park somewhere like the Village Mall and take MetroBus to the park. The schedule isn’t the most convenient but it’s an option and is only $2.50.
Bring Something to Sit On
Whether it’s a camp chair, picnic blanket, or stadium cushion, this is a sit down outdoor festival. Evening performances go on for about five hours so that’s a long time to stand and you’ll be happy your butt isn’t directly on the damp ground. The exception is the beer garden. No one sits there. I’m not even sure people really listen to the music in there. It’s a fun drink and mingle atmosphere instead.
Bring a Picnic or Cash for Food
It’s totally cool with festival staff if you want to bring a packed lunch with you. Load up your cooler bag and come on in. As long as there’s no alcohol you’re golden. That being said, there are always some staple festival foods at hand for sale. Fries, moose burgers, tacos, coffee, sweets. Guaranteed you’ll find something tasty to quell your hunger.
Bring Wet Wipes
Festival food can get messy. While you could go visiting the porta-potty handwashing station after getting burger grease and touton molasses on your hands, it might just be easier to keep a pack of wet wipes in your bag. That way you don’t have to leave your comfy camp chair.
Dress in Layers
This isn’t Coachella or Osheaga. Most people dress for comfort at the Newfoundland & Labrador Folk Festival, not for style points. No romper and flower crown needed. Hiking shoes are more common than heels. You may get some days in the low 20s but when the sun goes down, expect the temperatures to go with it. Rain is no stranger to the festival and it takes quite a bit to move anything indoors so keep an eye on the forecast and have your waterproof ready. If you’re someone like me who needs light gloves if the temperature gets down around 10, well… best pack a pair.
Check Out the Afternoon Workshops
A lot of people only go to the festival for the evening main stage performances but I think a lot of the heart and soul of the festival is in the afternoon workshops. Whether you want to learn about songwriting, Newfoundland traditional dance, storytelling, or any number of folky things, there’ll be a workshop for you.
While you’re at it, pop into the Francophone tent. Most people don’t realize that Newfoundland has a Francophone community (mainly on the west coast) so it’s worth your time to see what they have on offer.
With these tips in mind, I’m certain you’ll thoroughly enjoy one of our province’s premiere cultural events – the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival.