Sled Island 2020 Cancellation


It is with a heavy heart that we are announcing the cancellation of the 2020 Sled Island Music & Arts Festival, scheduled to take place June 24-28. This decision was based on a number of considerations including travel restrictions issued by several countries where some of our scheduled artists are from, travel restrictions announced by the Government of Canada, the announcement by City of Calgary on April 3rd, 2020 that “all festivals and events in Calgary with an audience of 50 people or more, must be canceled or postponed” as well as the order from Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health prohibiting the gathering of persons in excess of 15 people in a group. As a result of these unfortunate developments, the scheduled events can no longer take place and our wonderful artists are unable to perform.

While this news obviously comes as a huge disappointment, we would like to acknowledge and applaud that the City is taking this necessary step to contain the spread of COVID-19 and alleviate the pressure on our health care system to best care for those affected by it. 

We also understand that this doesn’t just affect our organization, but countless others in the city, and would like to extend our condolences to those organizations that are likewise struggling with today’s news. Perhaps most devastating to us is knowing the impact that these cancellations will have on our beloved community: the venues, artists, crews and partners who have all already been hit so hard by this crisis. We are committed to working hard for this community’s recovery, leveraging our energy, networks and resources to ensure that it returns stronger than ever.

Unfortunately, the scope and nature of our festival make it impossible for us to simply postpone the event until later in the year (to learn more, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions below). However, we have every intention of returning in June 2021 and are committed to supporting our community to the best of our abilities in the meantime. 

We will be issuing refunds to all pass and ticket holders requesting them and will be contacting everyone shortly with details on how to proceed. Alternatively, to those whose personal situation allows, we humbly ask that you consider transferring your pass to the 2021 festival or donating the cost of your pass or individual ticket(s) to Sled Island in exchange for a charitable tax receipt. Keeping the festival alive is a precarious endeavour under the best of circumstances, and we expect the fallout of the pandemic to affect our revenue significantly in the year to come.

Stay safe, stay home, stay hopeful, friends.

The Sled Island Team


Why don’t you just postpone the event?

Unfortunately, due to the immense size of the festival and limited financial and human resources available to Sled Island, postponing simply isn’t an option for us. With just three full-time staff, the festival is an ambitious undertaking each year even with 12 months of artistic, funding, sponsorship, marketing and logistical planning and development, and unfortunately, simply choosing new dates doesn’t change the workload needed to make the festival happen and doesn’t allow all work previously completed to simply transfer over.

Sled Island is different than many summer music festivals in that it doesn’t take place on a single outdoor site, but in 30+ venues across Calgary. While this setup has always been something we’ve considered a strength of the festival, ensuring that we offer not just intimate spaces for artists and audiences to connect, but also that we showcase many parts of Calgary that even long-time residents are unaware of, in this instance, it’s also the source of a lot of big question marks. Many of our longest running venues are currently facing harsh economic realities and the question as to which will still be able to open their doors in the fall looms large. For those venues that do re-open, it is unclear if they will be required to run at 1/2 or less capacities or when small social gatherings will even be allowed in the first place. We simply don’t know when it would be safe to postpone to.

Beyond that, pass and ticket sales and sponsorship has all but evaporated since the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the festival is not confident in assuming that those losses could be made up should the festival be allowed to go forward in the fall. The economic uncertainty is just too great at this point.

If we were to try to put all of our effort into running a scaled-back 2020 edition of the festival at a later date, one thing we know for sure is that doing so would not allow us to put on a festival in 2021 that is of the quality and scope we have come to expect.

As such, we are committed to using our energy and resources to not just returning in 2021, but to helping our community as best we can in the meantime.

What impact will this cancellation have on the festival?

The short answer is that we don’t yet know. While we have had close communication with multiple funders, municipal and provincial representatives and stakeholders of all kind, and are thankful for the levels up support they have already committed to us for the year, and while we are confident we can weather this storm and return in 2021, the reality is that we don’t really know the landscape we will be facing in 2020 and beyond. As stated, sponsorship, pass and ticket sales for the 2020 festival had largely vanished at the onset of the pandemic. There will continue to be real question marks for us around expectations for all of our major revenue sources, from box office to sponsorship to government funding and beyond.

I would like to donate to Sled Island.

Thank you! As a charity, Sled Island can issue a tax receipt to you. The fine folks at ATB are currently matching donations in April, so if you haven’t already purchased a pass or a ticket, your best place to donate is

I purchased a pass or ticket but would like to donate it and receive a charitable tax receipt instead. How do I do this? 

Thank you so much for your generosity in this time! You will receive an e-mail from us by the end of the week with full instructions on how we can make that happen. Please check the e-mail address associated with your pass or ticket purchase.

I would like to defer my pass purchase to 2021, how do I do that?

First of all, thank you for your support and trust in our organization! You will receive an e-mail from us by the end of the week with full instructions on how that will happen. Please check the e-mail address associated with your pass or ticket purchase.

I would like a refund for my pass or ticket purchase, how do I get one?

No worries. You will receive an e-mail from us by the end of the week on how that will happen. Please check the e-mail address associated with your pass or ticket purchase.

Were artists who were booked for the 2020 edition of the festival return next year?

Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee this. The entire live music ecosystem has felt the very real, very devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Artists are already re-scheduling tours not just into the fall, but into next summer, and may simply no longer be available in 2021. Agencies representing artists have had to make the difficult decision to layoff many agents, so re-negotiating performances may no longer be possible. Looking more broadly, there are hundreds of factors that can allow an artist to tour at a given time. With many of those factors facing uncertainties, from venues to labels to tour funding, it is simply impossible to confirm who will be willing to tour and who we will be able to book again at this time.

That said, the festival will do its best to put together a lineup in 2021 that is a mix of artists we were already excited to showcase this June, as well as brand new artist announcements. For the duration of 2020, Sled Island will use its social media networks to highlight both announced and unannounced artists from the now cancelled 2020 festival, to shine a lot on not just their music, but on any initiatives that they are undertaking that will help them through the year as well. 

I had volunteered for Sled Island 2020 - are my hours going to be transferred to 2021?

Yes! We have recorded all volunteer hours accumulated to date and can transfer them to 2021. you will receive an e-mail from us as soon as possible this month.

What’s next for Sled Island?

June 2021! First and foremost, we are committed to returning in 2021. We will work tirelessly with our partners this year and next to make it the magical return to form everyone deserves! That said, we know that this cancellation isn’t just about us….

Supporting our venues and partners - we know that Sled Island 2021 is nothing without the strong community of 30+ venues and 100+ partners that fuels it. As such, we will contacting all of our venues and partners to see how we can best leverage our networks to support them today, tomorrow and for as long as there is a Sled Island. We will be working with them to ensure that when they do indeed re-open their doors, they are are filled with a community wanting to get them fully back on their feet. We are committed to organize and co-present events that get people in the doors when it is safe to do so.

Sled Island 2020: Alternate Timeline Festival - We will be committed to artists at this time as well. We will be using our social media accounts to showcase the Sled Island that would have been. An alternate timeline Sled Island of sorts, highlighting announced and unannounced artists alike, linking not just to their music, so that you all at least have an incredible self-isolation soundtrack, but also linking to the initiatives they undertake to survive this time of uncertainty. Sled Island is nothing without the 250+ artists that put everything into making the vital music that gets us all through the good times and bad times alike. We will be doing what we can do highlight these artists.

Should you have any other questions or comments, we can be reached at

Please do understand that it may take us some time to respond, but we are committed to answering every question.

The Sled Island Team