January 22, 2020

By SARAH SHAW

Summer always goes hand-in-hand with a popular student favourite — music festivals.

Many think they have to travel long distances and spend a fortune when it comes to enjoying great entertainment outside, but that’s not the case.

Guelph’s annual Hillside Festival is described on their website as a “not-for-profit music festival that celebrates creativity through artistic expression, community engagement and environmental leadership.”

With five stages, the three-day-long event hosts musicians, spoken word artists, workshops and more on Guelph Lake Island, which becomes a summer hotspot for many.

“The festival’s vibe is one that clearly attracts people to come back each year, having the opportunity to converse with like-minded individuals while participating in workshops and enjoying wood-burned pizzas,” said Guelph resident, Morgan Coffey, who will be attending Hillside for the fourth time this year.

Since 1984, the festival has promoted a positive environmental focus which is often overlooked at many outdoor summer events. Some of their green efforts have included offering a fully biodegradable beer mug made from a corn-based resin and partnering with Green Legacy to give white pine seedlings to all loyal ticket buyers who purchased tickets on the first day of sales.

But what makes the festival so exciting is the sense of community and fun it offers for music lovers and local artists during the last weekend in July.

“The music is unreal and it offers some really awesome opportunities for young musicians like myself to meet with people and network. The fans, the other musicians and the staff were phenomenal people,” said guitar player Wes Chase, whose band Captured Anthems played during last year’s festival.

Another thing that sets Hillside apart is where it is centred. Guelph Lake, which is a man-made reservoir on the Speed River, is a conservation area that is frequented by many in the area for swimming and other beach activities.

“The fact that Hillside takes place at a Guelph Lake Conservation area just adds to the romance of the weekend. The co-ordinators do an excellent job at transforming the area while still keeping its charm by keeping the walking trails and strategically setting up the stages around them,” said Coffey, adding, “Visitors can sit under a tree all day listening to music and head back to their campsite in the evening to relax with their friends before doing it all over again the next day.”

Chase said, “I got to camp out for the weekend with my closest friends, party, meet people and all that good stuff. The fact that everything was outside and the weather was perfect helped make Hillside one of the best weekends I’ve ever experienced.”

Past performers have included The Arkells, The Barenaked Ladies and Sloan. This year’s lineup has yet to be released. Tickets go on sale May 5 at 10 a.m. and can be purchased through the festival’s website.

For more information, including volunteer opportunities, to make a donation or for directions, visit hillsidefestival.ca.