It’s been three years since Squamish Valley Music Festival went silent, but after getting encouragement from council on Tuesday, the Squamish Constellation Festival wants to bring a new alt-rock lineup back to town.
There was no formal motion, but council expressed support for the organization.
“The inaugural Squamish Constellation Festival is a seedling for what we anticipate becoming a summer anchor for cultural events in the Corridor,” said organizer Kirsten Andrews.
The “family-first celebration” is being organized by Aquila Constellation Productions, a Squamish-based production company that was established March 2018 with four local directors: Tamara Stanners, Kurt Larson, Katherine Kunze and Andrews.
Organizers are planning to launch the festival in 2019 as a three-day music event, from Friday evening through to Sunday at Hendrickson Field off Loggers Lane.
Some smaller, after-dark “satellite events” would take place at bar and club venues around Squamish.
“We’re really wanting to work with the town to make sure we’re not just making money for those on site, but really pushing people into town,” said Kunze. “With no camping we’re also supporting the hotels, hostels, the whole accommodation industry.”
The theoretical line-up will focus on alt-pop, folk, indie, alt-rock, singer-songwriter and big band groups, as well as family acts. An announcement about final ticket prices and the musical lineup would be expected in the new year.
Andrews emphasized that the festival will be a day festival, with no opportunities for camping. As the event grows, Aquila said they plan to add shuttle services to and from Whistler and Vancouver. Local bike transportation will also be encouraged.
Larson told councillors that the group is also working with organizations like WildSafe BC to protect animals and support environmentally-friendly policies.
In their estimated budget numbers presented to council on Tuesday, organizers said they hope to keep the cost of a locals three-day pass around $99 and a regular advance pass around $150.
The talent budget – used to pay bands – for the first year is estimated at $193,100 but would be expected to grow along with the festival.
While comparisons were made to the enormous Squamish Valley Music Festival that was cancelled in 2016, the Constellation Festival aims to remain much smaller. Organizers are hoping to grow the festival over four years, capping the daily attendance at 15,000 per day by 2022.
“Those first few years of the Squamish Music Festival I think really in my mind, were the best. At that sweet spot of 15, or maybe 16 or 17-thousand is really the threshold of what we can absorb in the community and what that site can take. I think that’s really reasonable,” said Mayor Patricia Heintzman.
The Mayor also quipped that she has faith in the organizers because they are all Squamish locals and will have to face their neighbours at the grocery store the next day.
Editor's note: Full disclosure — organizer Kirsten Andrews is a regular contributor to The Squamish Chief.