PLEASE READ: A Letter From Our ED


From our Executive Director, Julie Vogt

Hello Festival Folks. We had a significant event yesterday, one that MAY affect your ticket-purchasing decisions. We’d like to let you in on where we’re at, but I want to remind you that this new development for #NLFolkFest48 is not firm yet. As a result, when tickets go on sale tomorrow they will be as advertised. We will sell tickets as they are listed in accordance with the current licensed and unlicensed distinction. As much as we’d like to postpone ticket sales until everything is wrapped up neatly with perfect information, we have hefty pre-festival bills to pay and performer deposits that are dependent on a strong cash flow. Nonetheless, we feel you should know what we know to inform your Festival ticket buying decision and we hope you’re as excited as we are.

As we previously communicated across our platforms a few weeks ago, we, along with other partners such as InclusionNL, have been working with the NLC on the licensing issue. Folk Festival organizers have been talking about this issue for years and would ask the NLC about it periodically. The time wasn’t right then, and the answer was always negative. After all, the NLC folks have regulations to follow and jobs to do. We respect them always and follow every guideline and advice given to us.

Yesterday we had a fruitful conversation with the good folks at the NLC. We had drafted a letter asking to be a test site for a fully licensed Main Stage area with no barriers for our patrons and a license that would allow all ages to roam freely throughout the space. I am happy to report that this year, these discussions have been on their table as well.  We both feel that the NL Folk Fest is the perfect occasion to try it and see. The NLC has agreed to work with us to create a site map for the board’s consideration. Again, no promises one way or the other – but we’ve never gotten to this point in the past and feel hopeful that we can work together to make this happen in 2024.

Our plan will mean that you can walk anywhere in the mainstage area with your purchased-from-us alcoholic beverage and children in tow. It’s our current plan to have a designated sober area in consultation with those specializing in these areas, and whatever other safeguards the NLC recommends that we do. However, these areas won’t have fencing or any other semi-permanent border (more along the lines of theater roping), and will require no “neutral zone” in between them.

This kind of licensing beta test has been done at other concerts and festivals similar to ours in Ottawa, Winnipeg, and all over Europe, resulting in great success. From them, we’ve gathered ideas on wrist banding and other measures to ensure that those under 19 can enjoy the concert from wherever they and their guardians choose, but do so without alcohol.

Our next meeting is Tuesday for the NLC rep to visit our office to have a gander at what we’ve come up with. He’ll make suggestions and guide us using his expertise so that our license application resubmission is the best it can be to achieve the desired end result – a Folk Fest to be enjoyed freely by everyone!

Folk Fest is still Folk Fest, but to keep our treasured traditions alive we have to move and flow with the changes that happen around us. No one will be getting TOO folked up (we’ll see to that), but we’ll all have fun and we will all be together.

Finally, I know that some may disagree with this approach. You are certainly entitled to your opinions but again we ask that you do so with respect – not just for us and our volunteer board, but for each other. I have gotten many texts and messages from folks who love to enjoy a tasty beverage or two while watching the amazing lineups on our Main Stage and are thrilled about the change. To refer to them as “a bunch of drunks” is simply not true and exclusionary. We, as a folk village, are better than what I’ve seen on these threads. Disagree with us? Of course some of you will. But do so in a civil manner. To everyone. At the end of it all, you may decide that you don’t want to join us this year.  We understand and respect your decision – you are doing what’s right for you and your family. But we certainly hope that you’ll read about this full-site licensing. The festivals that tried it are still going in this direction today. And as Deputy Mayor O’Leary has said many times, be kind.  

Stay tuned for more exciting lineup announcements and details on the daytime once they’re final. Thank you for reading! As always, reach out to us at with any questions.