Based on his book, Sudbury author and musician Sean Barrette to host a workshop with Lynn Miles, Keith Glass, Andrew Hyatt and Nils Edenloff

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Since 1972, Northern Lights Festival Boreal has been a lightning rod for the artistic energy of northern Ontario. The festival has become known internationally for its consistently diverse curation of live music, including emerging discoveries and acclaimed talents.

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With its roots in folk, world and indie music, the festival reaches into hip-hop, pop, rock, electronic and beyond.

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The 53rd edition takes place July 4-7 and features more than 75 shows; more than 40 artists; and more than seven stages/venues. Headliners this year include Julyy Black, July Talk, The Rural Alberta Advantage and Tim Baker. Tickets and information are available at

Workshops normally take place during the daytime on July 6-7, across various festival stages. They are one of the most unique elements of the festival.

Workshops are not instructional; they are mainly performance-based. Members from different acts are grouped together based on a particular style, influence, theme or instrument. Usually, the artists join each other on stage, and each artist takes turns playing or leading a song.

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During workshops, artists have the opportunity to really dig into the stories behind the songs or provide some background on how they came to be. Depending on the event, artists may also join in and jam on each other’s songs, creating one-of-a-kind collaborations that can only happen live, at Festival Boreal.

Sometimes artists programmed together in workshops represent vastly different styles, creating interesting combinations. Sometimes emerging artists appear alongside seasoned veterans. And quite often, you will feel a unique musical magic floating in the air.

Among the most anticipated workshops this year is Heartstrings: First Guitars, scheduled for 1 pm on July 6, on the festival’s main stage. Based on his recent book of the same title, Sudbury author and musician Sean Barrette hosts a workshop with Lynn Miles; Keith Glass of Prairie Oyster; Andrew Hyatt; and Nils Edenloff of The Rural Alberta Advantage. Artists will share stories of their first guitars, and share songs.

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Boreal is also going digital, with Beauty in the Beat, an exploration of beat-based music using synths, samplers, turntables and beyond. Juno-winning, Mohawk DJ/producer DJ Shub will join Mexican-Canadian Latin/hip-hop/reggaeton party-starter Boogàt, and Sudbury live electronic project The 555 on the festival’s main stage on July 7. These distinct artists will showcase their music and their unique approaches to creating and performing. Collaboration and dancing are distinct possibilities…

In folk-fest style, NLFB will present a workshop for lovers of bowed instruments. On July 6 at 3 pm, the festival’s main stage will host Draw the Bow. Cristina Masotti and Melissa Schaak of Sudbury’s 2VPlus will showcase the violin in all its magic. Marta Solek of Toronto’s Moskitto Bar will turn festival audiences on to the magic of the lyra — a traditional Greek instrument. Jacinthe Trudeau and Jeff Wiseman will bring the warm sounds of traditional Métis and Franco-Ontarian fiddle styles.

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This year, the festival will host a teaser stage at Bell Park’s picturesque lookout, known as The Captain’s Deck. This stage will feature short performances from festival artists throughout the day on July 6-7. This stage is free for the public to attend without a festival pass. This is also where Fusions will take place — a song-circle with three of Sudbury’s most loved singer-songwriters, who sing in French and English.

Festival Boreal has recently launched special accommodation packages in partnership with Radisson Hotel in downtown Sudbury.

Also, a $20 afternoon-only pass is available at the gate. It includes access to daytime programming on one day of the festival.

Festival Boreal is seeking volunteers. Learn more at the festival website.

Festival Boreal takes place July 4-7 at Bell Park. The full lineup, schedule and passes are available at

X: SudburyStar

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