Sledding for the first time
A Sled Island survival guide for beginners
Way back in 2007, a little festival began in Calgary. Six years later, Sled Island has grown to host 200 bands and 100 visual artists and comedians at 30 plus venues throughout Calgary’s inner city.
This year was my first year attending, and I will be the first to admit that I was not prepared for the wonderful chaos of the four-day extravaganza.
Now that the downpour of rain has stopped and the bands have packed up and moved on, I am more prepared for many years of sledding to come.
Useful Tips for Sled Island that I had to learn the hard way:
- Do your research. Know who’s going, and listen to their music. Open tabs on your browser for YouTube, CBC Radio 3, and MySpace. Prepare to Google the shit out of bands you have never heard before.
- Come to terms with the fact that you can’t see everyone that you want to because they will be likely playing at the same time. That’s the charm and the stress of the festival. Relax and roll with it.
- Plan your days. And be realistic about it. Know what shows are going to draw a large crowd, and plan to get there in advance. Otherwise you won’t be getting in, and your little indie heart may just break. Or spend the extra coin to get a Festival Discovery Plus Pass, but that won’t guarantee access if the show is at capacity. Consider yourself warned.
- Dress appropriately. Sure I looked good, but the rain soaked right through my shoes and wreaked havoc on my hair. Check the weather periodically throughout the week.
- Give yourself an allowance. It’s easy to blow all your hard-earned coin on PBR at the basement of the Palomino, but then what will you drink at the Legion?
- Drink water. Chances are good you’ve been drinking; you might want to re-hydrate after a few beers and packed venues. You’re going to sweat a lot rocking out so hard, take care of your body – you want to last all of the days.
- Eat your vegetables. I subsisted off of coffee and greasy pub fare almost exclusively the entire festival. My body is still recovering.
- Not sure where to go? Follow the bikes! They are a faster, greener way to travel around downtown, just be careful of pedestrians and other motorists.
- Go to shows alone. You might meet some interesting people – I know I did.
- Plan to go to shows with friends. Rekindle old friendships; appreciate your friend’s taste in music.
- Bring a camera, or take a lot of photos on your phone. Capture the essence that is Sled Island and hold it dear, because once it is over, you’ll have to wait 12 months to recapture the magic.
I am hooked. I will be returning for next year’s Sled Island adventure. Although I was left hungry, cold, wet and without a voice, it was 100 per cent worth it.