Folk on the Rocks, long a beacon of hope, won’t happen in 2020

Last modified: April 16, 2020 at 11:25am

Yellowknife’s hopes of summer normality continued to evaporate as one of the few remaining major events, Folk on the Rocks, confirmed its postponement and promised refunds.

The festival says its 40th anniversary celebration will be rescheduled for July 16-18, 2021. Organizers are hopeful next year’s line up will look similar.

In three staggered announcements, Folk on the Rocks had revealed big-name alumni including Tegan and Sara, The Jerry Cans, Shred Kelly, Fred Penner, and Joel Plaskett would lead this year’s lineup. 


“During the span of this pandemic, we held on to hope and optimism that our July timeline would allow us to go forward and celebrate the end of the quarantine,” read a statement from the festival’s organizers.

“However, as the public health emergency continues, it has become evident that we will not be able to host a safe festival this summer.”

We promise to come visit when concerts resume again.TEGAN AND SARA

Worried that welcoming hundreds of artists and tourists from across the country could put the NWT at risk, organizers decided they “could not in good faith move forward with this knowledge, and therefore have made this incredibly heartbreaking decision.”

Carly McFadden, the festival’s executive and artistic director, called the postponement the “most difficult decision” during her time with Folk, adding “there were several tears shed.”


She said the board had hoped the annual music festival would “be the beacon of light at the end of this dark journey.”

“Even though all our hearts are broken right now, we are already planning to make 2021 the 40th anniversary party we all deserve,” said McFadden.

“Nothing will make us happier than seeing everyone happy, healthy, and dancing in the sand once again.”

The board stated its members are “incredibly hopeful” the 2021 lineup will involve many of this year’s acts.


In a tweet, headliners Tegan and Sara – who first played the festival in 2004 – said: “We still talk about how unique Folk on the Rocks was and how much fun we had, which was why returning was going to be a highlight of our summer.

“We promise to come visit when concerts resume again.”

The Yukon’s Dawson City Music Festival, scheduled for the same weekend, also announced its cancellation on Thursday – making 2020 the first year in which that festival won’t take place for more than four decades.

Full refunds to ticket holders

Anyone who had already purchased Folk on the Rocks tickets for 2020 will be able to receive a full refund.

The Folk board is asking people who need a refund to fill out this form by April 30.

Ticket-holders who apply for a refund should receive it by May 14, unless they choose to donate the value of their ticket to Folk on the Rocks (which can be done via the form) to help the non-profit cover expenses like site maintenance and partial artist fees.

Folk On The Rocks said it would now celebrate staying 39 for another year with limited-edition merchandise to be shared on its social media accounts.