Rifflandia 2016: Vancouver Island’s premiere festival graduates to big kid pants

Tuesday 13th, September 2016 / 09:57
By Jamie Goyman
Rifflandia 2016 festival director Nick Blasko.

Rifflandia 2016 festival director Nick Blasko.

CORRECTION: This article originally stated that Rifflandia has grown to a 3,500+ attendee event. The festival has since clarified that, in fact, it’s closer to 12,000 attendees per day.  

VANCOUVER — Inspired by NXNE and SXSW in the late ‘90s, Rifflandia Musical Festival, now in its ninth season, has continually had a keen focus on bringing an always expanding artist line-up to Vancouver Island. The multi-venue mixture of local and international acts has been the perfect opportunity to enjoy and discover new artists as well as Victoria itself. “It was Iceland Airwaves in 2007 that finally tipped me to the fact that Victoria was the perfect city in many respects. Beautiful assortment of venues all within walking distance of one another,” explains one of the festival’s directors, Nick Blasko. “I think our diversity of programming and commitment to local has really helped establish it … For our size, we often have headliners that punch above their weight, so to speak, so people feel like they can experience world-class artists in the comfort of their backyard – without leaving the island. Also, our long standing relationships with our partners such as Phillips Brewery, who have been supporters since year one.”

Beginning with six stages, 65 artists and around 1,500 attendees, Rifflandia has since grown into a 15-venue, 148 artist- and 12,000-attendee-per-day behemoth. “Hopefully we can continue to provide the same great programming and refine our model to be sustainable. We aren’t in any rush to grow any bigger,” says Blasko.

Every artist that comes through shares in the same unique pleasure of playing and experiencing a festival that engages attendees and artists alike with the city that plays the backdrop. Encouraging venue hopping and crossing paths with people throughout the night is only a portion of the festival’s charm. Keeping its goals within reach, Rifflandia continually surprises with its progression and consistently keeps itself on its self-carved path of success. “The best part is getting to share something that you had a hand in creating and seeing people engage with and enjoy it! And seeing the long term cultural and economic impact on the city is quite rewarding,” tells Nick.

Advice from behind the Rifflandia scenes? “A wristband and a comfortable pair of shoes is all you need. Oh, and a pile of beer tickets.”

Rifflandia happens in multiple venues around Victoria from September 16-18.

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