2023 Vancouver Folk Music Festival cancelled, possibly permanently

The Vancouver Folk Music Festival has been cancelled this year because of high costs. And as Kier Junos reports, festival organizers will soon vote on whether to stop the event permanently, after a 45 year run.

The Vancouver Folk Music Festival (VFMF) announced this year’s festival has been cancelled due to financial challenges, and it might not be coming back.

According to a post on the group’s website, organizers say the decision comes after facing numerous problems, including staffing challenges and cost increases.

“Our VFMF Society simply does not have the resources to produce an event this year. The costs of the event, the cash-flow requirements, and our very limited budget for staff simply make it impossible. We postponed the decision for as long as we could as we strove to find a solution, but are at a point now where, even if the funding were to appear, we would not have time to pull the event together,” a statement from the festival’s board said.

The group says the 2022 festival was unable to break even, pointing to increased production costs.

“Our team came up against many challenges as they worked hard to put the festival together in 2022. Coming back after two years of COVID-restriction-related cancellations, we found that the environment in which we were operating had dramatically changed,” it said.

Following the cancellation, the board says the cost of moving forward with having a yearly festival would require an extra $500,000 up-front every year, something that they can’t foresee being able to keep up with.

“We have determined that there is not enough grant or sponsorship funding available to support this budget increase, nor could our community sustain the increase in ticket prices that would be necessary to close the gap,” the group explained.

a group of people sit on grass

2022 Vancouver Folk Music Festival. (CityNews)


FiL Hemming, vice president of the VFMF Society Board, says the decision to head in this direction is an emotional one for himself and the rest of the board.

“This is a painful, painful time for all those who love the festival, who’ve been part of the festival over the years. I personally have deep gratitude for everyone who has ever been involved in the festival either as volunteer, or as a staff person,” Hemming said.

In a vote set for Feb. 1, organizers will decide whether or not to formally dissolve the society which had been putting on the event.

The group says the news “will be heartbreaking for many,” as “the festival is a highlight of every summer and the weekend has become a part of the fabric of our community.”

Related article:

It adds people can head to their website’s FAQ section if they have questions.

“Thank you for being a part of our 45 years of magic and celebration,” it said.

Although the future looks bleak for VFMF, Hemming says some hope is something the festival would welcome with open arms.

“If somebody came along and said, here’s a very large endowment or an attempt to keep the festival going…That would be wonderful. But again, it’s up to the members to decide how to progress and the recommendation was really made with the information we have on hand and what we found to be possible at this time. So, if there was something to come out, and an angel were to come along, we’d welcome them,” he explained.

With files from James Paracy

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today