Taking place at beautiful Jericho Beach in July each year, the Vancouver Folk Music Festival is one of the Lower Mainland’s premier music festivals.
Folk Festival at Jericho Beach
Attracting tens of thousands of folk music enthusiasts over the three days, the festival features over 60 performances from artists from over a dozen different countries.
In 2018 the Vancouver Folk Music Festival took place on the weekend of July 13-15.
In this article you’ll find information about the following:
Click on any of the above links to jump to a specific topic, or continue reading to learn all about the Vancouver Folk Music Festival. To purchase tickets, click VFMF Tickets.
Admission to Folk Fest
Performances at the festival usually run on the Friday from 3 pm until late evening, and on the Saturday and Sunday from 10 am until late.
2018 Admission prices at the gate were the following, with early bird advance ticket prices between $5 and $30 less (depending on your age and when you buy them):
- Adults: $185 full weekend; $85 Saturday or Sunday; $65 Friday.
- Students and Seniors (65+): $140 full weekend; $70 Saturday or Sunday; $55 Friday.
- Youth (ages 13-18): $85 weekend; $55 Saturday or Sunday; $45 Friday.
- Children (12 and under): free when accompanied by a paying adult.
Note: These prices are the same as they were last year!
For ticket information or to purchase your pass click VFMF Tickets.
Tickets can also be purchased in advance for a $5-$30 discount, either online or at a number of retail outlets around Vancouver.
Early bird tickets could be purchased up until May 11, 2018. If you bought tickets online between May 12 and July 13 you also saved between $5 and $15 over gate prices, which was great, but not as much of a savings as purchasing before May 11.
Check out the Festival Website for further information.
2018 Concerts Lineup
Who performs at Vancouver Folk Fest? Below is the list of performers and concert times scheduled for 2018.
Note: Schedule times and performer details are subject to change.
Friday June 13th Concerts & Workshops
On Stage Three
- 4:00 pm – Dálava
- 5:10 pm – Quantum Tangle
- 6:20 pm – Mariel Buckley
- 7:30 pm – Little Miss Higgins
- 8:50 pm – Steve Riley & The Mamou Playboys
On Stage Four
Friday Evening Concerts on the MAIN STAGE
Friday Evening Concerts on the TWILIGHT STAGE
Saturday July 14th Concerts and Workshops
On Stage One
- 10:00 am – Paul Silvera and Estro Jennies
- 11:10 am – Cajun Dance Party with Steve Riley & The Mamou Playboys
- 12:30 pm – Las Estrellas de Vancouver
- 1:40 pm – Dirty Windshields with Grant Lawrence, Donavan Woods, Little Miss Higgins, Dawn Pemberton, Dustin Bentall and Kendel Carson
- 3:10 pm – All Age Square Dance with Professor Banjo and Estro Jennies
On Stage Two
- 10:00 am – Irishman Walks into an Italian Bar with Ilaria Graziano & Francesco Forni, Mick Flannery and Wallis Bird
- 11:20 am – Murfitt & Main
- 12:30 pm – Brazenly East with Gordon Grdina’s Haram, A Familia Machado and Dálava
- 1:50 pm – Guy Davis
- 3:00 pm – Beyond Borders with Las Estrellas de Vancouver, Son De Madera and A Familia Machado
- 4:20 pm – Flyin’ on My Own with Archie Roach
On Stage Three
- 10:00 am – Sing It Like You Mean It with DakhaBrakha, Dálava and Quantum Tangle
- 11:20 am – Songs Not to Sing at Funerals with Art Bergmann, Viper Central and Dori Freeman
- 12:40 pm – Wallis Bird
- 1:50 pm – As the World Turns with Leonard Sumner, Archie Roach and Martin Kerr
- 3:10 pm – Gordon Grdina’s Haram
- 4:20 pm – Songs of Unrequited Love Workshop with Mariel Buckley, Donovan Woods and Leonard Sumner
- 5:40 pm – Iskwé
- 7:00 pm – Alex Cuba
- 8:20 pm – Petunia & The Vipers
On Stage Four
- 11:20 am – Wazimbo & Banda Kakana
- 12:40 pm – Les Bons Temps Rouler Workshop with Steve Riley & The Mamou Playboys, Les Poules à Colin and The John Lowell Band
- 2:00 pm – Hot Hot Heat Workshop with Wazimbo & Banda Kakana, Ezra Kwizera and Alex Cuba
- 3:20 pm – Small Glories
- 4:40 pm – Little Snakes Alive with Petunia & The Vipers and Little Miss Higgins
On Stage Five
- 10:00 am – Dori Freeman
- 11:10 am – Good Morning Blues Workshop with Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, Guy Davis and Steph Cameron
- 12:25 pm – Mick Flannery
- 1:35 pm – Let’s Get Dreamy with Steph Cameron, Kacy & Clayton and Ilaria Graziano & Francesco Forni
- 2:55 pm – Viper Central
Saturday Evening Concerts on the MAIN STAGE
Saturday Evening Concerts on the TWILIGHT STAGE
Sunday July 15th Concerts and Workshops
On Stage One
- 10:00 am – Historic Ukrainian Singing with DakhaBrakha
- 11:10 am – Gamelan Bike Bike
- 12:30 pm – Mike Munson
- 1:40 pm – Hark I Hear A Drum Workshop with Ezra Kwizera and Gord Grdina’s Haram
- 3:00 pm – Le Danse du Quebec with Les Poules à Colin and Petunia & The Vipers
- 4:15 pm – Swan Song Swap with Mick Flannery and Martin Kerr
On Stage Two
- 10:00 am – Shake Your Soul with Ranky Tanky, Dawn Pemberton and Jayme Stone’s Folklife
- 11:20 am – Son de Madera
- 12:25 pm – Porch Swing Ballads with The John Lowell Band and Dori Freeman
- 1:40 pm – Change is Gonna Come with Just Duets, Iskwé, Guy Davis and Art Bergmann
- 3:00 pm – Joachim Cooder
On Stage Three
- 10:00 am – For A Good Time Try Old Time with Viper Central, The Small Glories and The Dead South
- 11:20 am – Martin Kerr
- 12:40 pm – Steph Cameron
- 1:50 pm – Trad Gone Rad with Jayme Stone’s Folklife, The Small Glories, Estro Jennies and Paul Silveria
- 3:05 pm – Ilaria Graziano & Francesco Forni
- 4:15 pm – Love Is Love with Iskwé and Quantum Tangle
- 5:35 pm – Art Bergmann
- 6:55 pm – Dawn Pemberton
- 8:15 pm – Carole Pope
On Stage Four
- 10:15 am – Blues How Do You Do with Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, Murfitt & Main and Conelly Farr
- 11:30 am – A Familia Machado
- 12:40 pm – Girls Just Want to Have Fun with Carole Pope, Skye Wallace and Wallis Bird
- 2:00 pm – Outlaw Hootenany with Kacy & Clayton, Mariel Buckley and Murfitt & Main
- 3:20 pm – Ezra Kwizera
- 4:40 pm – Yo Sé Quién Soy with Alex Cuba and Son de Madera
On Stage Five
- 11:00 am – Leonard Sumner
- 12:10 pm – Donovan Woods
- 1:20 pm – Les Poules à Colin
- 2:30 pm – Skye Wallace
Sunday Evening Concerts on the MAIN STAGE
- Jayme Stone’s Folklife
- Wazimbo & Banda Kakana
- Ranky Tanky
- Ry Cooder featuring the HamilTones
Sunday Evening Concerts on the TWILIGHT STAGE
Performer Bios and Website Links
Below is a bit of background information about the various performers.
- A Familia Machado – BC-based Celso Machado performs with his musical family from Brazil.
- Alex Cuba – a Juno Award-winning Cuban-Canadian singer.
- Archie Roach – an Indigenous Australian singer and songwriter.
- Art Bergmann – a Juno Award-winning former 1970s punk rocker originally from Abbotsford.
- Carole Pope – a Canadian singer born in Manchester England but raised in Scarborough Ontario.
- DakhaBrakha – a three-women and one-man Ukrainian Folk quartet.
- Dálava – the Vancouver-based Moravian/Czech duo of singer Julia Ulehla and guitarist Aram Bajakian.
- Darlingside – a 4-man Indie-Folk band from Boston.
- Daniel Melingo – an Argentinian Tango musician.
- Dawn Pemberton – a Vancouver-based soul singer and winner of the Western Canadian Music Award for Urban Recording of the Year in 2015.
- The Dead South – a Saskatchewan-based Folk and Bluegrass band.
- Donovan Woods – a Polaris Prize and Juno Award-nominated singer-songwriter from Ontario.
- Dori Freeman – an American Country singer and songwriter from Virginia.
- Ezra Kwizera – the former Rwandan refugee and now BC-based singer entertains with a mix of Reggae, Soca, East African Bongo and Pop.
- Gamelan Bike Bike – a group of musicians who perform Indonesian-inspired tunes on instruments made from discarded bicycles.
- Gordon Grdina’s Haram – a BC-based all-male group of Arabic Folk musicians.
- Grant Lawrence and Friends – a Vancouver-based musician performs with his band.
- Guy Davis – an American Blues musician.
- Ilaria Graziano e Francesco Forni – an Italian Folk duo from Naples.
- Iskwé – a Winnipeg-born and award-winning Cree/Dene/Irish musician.
- James McMurtry – an American Rock and Folk musician from Texas.
- Jayme Stone’s Folklife – the 2-time Juno Award-winning banjo player performs with Moira Smiley, Sumaia Jackson and Andrew Ryan.
- Jimmy “Duck” Holmes – an African-American Blues musician from Mississippi.
- Joachim Cooder – a keyboardist and percussionist from Los Angeles.
- John Lowell Band – a group of American Bluegrass musicians.
- Kacy & Clayton – a Folk duo from Saskatchewan.
- Las Estrellas de Vancouver – an all-female Vancouver-based Mariachi band.
- Leonard Sumner – an Anishinaabe First Nation poet, singer and songwriter from Manitoba.
- Les Poules a Colin – a Quebec-based Folk group.
- Little Miss Higgins – a Blues singer and her band from Manitoba.
- Mariel Buckley Band – a Country singer from Alberta.
- Martin Kerr – a Folk musician from Edmonton.
- Mick Flannery – an Irish singer-songwriter from County Cork.
- Mike Munson – an American singer from Minnesota.
- Murfitt and Main – a group of Country and Bluegrass musicians from Vancouver.
- Neko Case – an American singer-songwriter from Washington State who attended art school in Vancouver.
- Petunia and the Vipers – a Vancouver-based Country, Blues and Roots band.
- Professor Banjo & Estro Jennies – Paul Silveria is a traditional banjo-playing musician and dance performer originally from Oregon but now based in Vancouver. He is accompanied by Lorraine Cobb on guitar, Shiho Mizumoto on fiddle and Paula Spurr on bass.
- Quantum Tangle – musicians Tiffany Ayalik & Greyson Gritt from Yellowknife.
- Ranky Tanky – a Gospel, Blues and Jazz group from South Carolina.
- Rodney Crowell – an American Country singer from Texas.
- Ry Cooder – an American guitarist and Roots musician.
- Skye Wallace – a Toronto-based Folk Rock artist.
- Small Glories – a Folk group from Winnipeg. They also perform later in the month at the Mission Folk Music Festival.
- Son de Madera – a 4-person Mexican band from Vera Cruz.
- Steph Cameron – a Country Folk singer from Saskatoon.
- Steve Riley & Mamou Playboys – a band that celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2018.
- Three Women and the Truth – an all-female guitar-playing trio from Nashville.
- Viper Central – a 4-person Bluegrass and Country band from Vancouver.
- Wallis Bird – a Folk, Rockabilly and Acoustic musician from Ireland.
- Wazimbo and Banda Kakana – a music duo from Mozambique.
What to Expect at Folk Fest
At the Vancouver Folk Music Festival you can expect three days of amazing folk music performances by dozens of international singers and bands on multiple stages spread out over the lawns at the park by beautiful Jericho Beach.
You can also expect thousands of people enjoying not only the music, but also the beer garden, festival food and artisan market. There are also special activities for children, like face painting and crafts.
Folk Fest Music
The Vancouver Folk Music Festival attracts some fairly big names in the folk music world. If you’re really into folk music, you will likely have heard of a number of each year’s performers. If you like folk music but aren’t seriously into it, however, then you might have heard of one or two.
In 2016, the headliner for the final night was Bruce Cockburn. In 2017 one of the main bands was The Bare Naked Ladies. 2018 bands include Alex Cuba and Les Poules à Colin.
Music is played from multiple stages in different areas of the park at the same time, so if you find you don’t like what you’re listening to, chances are pretty good you’ll find something you love pretty close by.
The main stage is in the middle of the park, and in most years there are at least five stages in total spread out all around with an average of three or so with performances happening at any given time.
For a look at the festival venue, click Folk Fest Site Map.
Festival Beer Garden
At the Vancouver Folk Music Festival there is of course a beer garden. Wine and beer were $6 each in 2016 and the beer garden area had tons of tables, many of which had umbrellas for shade.
A gazillion people attend the festival of course, so be prepared to wait in line to get your drinks at popular times, or simply keep your eye on the line as it has both busy times and slow times.
Folk Festival Food
The Vancouver Folk Music Festival always has a great selection of food for sale – everything from healthy vegan dishes, to ethnic cuisine to junk food. There’s something for everyone, and most of it is really delicious!
Most of the food vendors are concentrated in sort of a food court area in the northeast corner of the festival venue, which is convenient as it means everyone in your group can find something they like all in the same general place.
The Artisan Market
The Artisan Market at the festival is truly impressive. It features over 100 vendors selling all kinds of beautiful and interesting things – and it’s not open just for festival attendees – anyone off the street (or the beach) can go into the market for no charge. It’s really worth it!
For the weekend of the festival, the Folk Fest Artisan Market is arguably the best market in the Lower Mainland.
At the market you’ll find everything from handmade soaps to African drums to colourful Guatemalan clothing. You’ll also find hats, bags, Persian rugs, sunglasses, hemp clothing, all kinds of jewellery and even vendors offering shiatsu massages and palm readings. Even if you don’t plan to buy anything, it’s interesting just taking a look.
Folk Festival Advice
Below are some tips to help you make the most out of your Vancouver Folk Music Festival experience.
TIP #1: If you’ve never been to the Vancouver Folk Music Festival before, unless you really don’t like music, go! It’s not inexpensive, but reasonable for a festival of its kind and well worth the price. The evening headliner concerts, for example, alone are worth the price of a full day’s ticket.
TIP #2: If you’re not sure if you’ll like the festival, or if you’re not even sure if you like folk music, just go to Jericho Beach for part of the day and check it out from a distance. Wander through the Artisan Market or listen to the music from the beach. If it turns out you like what you see and hear, then either buy a ticket and go inside or plan to do so in the following year.
TIP #3: If you order your tickets online at least three days in advance you’ll save yourself a few dollars. The weather in Vancouver in July is usually pretty good, but check the forecast in advance. People say that in past years when it has rained the event was still fabulous. Beautiful sunny weather for an outdoor music festival though is still pretty nice to have.
TIP #4: Take a water bottle. It can be hot at Jericho Beach in July and the Festival provides water stations where you can refill your bottle. And if you think you’ll really need cooling off, take your swimsuit too – the ocean can be freezingly cold, but Jericho Beach is one of Vancouver’s finest. Also, time your dip in the water when the tide is coming in. If the sand is hot the water warms remarkably.
TIP #5: Take public transit if you can, or ride your bike, because with thousands of festival goers all at the same place, parking can be a nightmare. Take good walking shoes and don’t be surprised if you have to walk a considerable distance, like from as far as the western end of Spanish Banks some four or so kilometres away. If driving, go early and try your luck. Or, if you can, put bicycles on your bike rack and plan to park and then cycle. (Note: there is a large secure bicycle parking area at the main (East) entrance just off 4th Avenue. Bicycle parking there costs about $2.)
TIP #6: Take your old garbage electronics to the festival. No, really. Many years there is a booth accepting old electronics for recycling. Got an old radio, coffeemaker or battery-powered toy that no longer works? Take it with you and they’ll recycle it for you for free (or at least that’s what they did in 2016).
See the Folk Fest Website for further information on the Festival in general.
Check out Vancouver’s Best Places’ July Calendar for other great events taking place this same month, or the Vancouver Festival Calendar for a list of the Lower Mainland’s other top events and festivals.
Click Free Summer Concerts for a list of other music venues in July and August.
For ticket information click VFMF Tickets.