Every spring since 1987, the City of Peterborough excitedly awaits the start of a summer festival like no other.
Photo Credit: Brian Crangle
A festival that offers eight-weeks of free admission concerts that showcase renowned musicians in a beautiful gathering place at the end of the rapids (Nogojiwanong) on the shores of picturesque Little Lake.
The uniqueness of our festival is born of this place; the once mighty electric city transformed by grit and determination into an even mightier creative city. The summer sees Peterborough sparked alive by the blossoming of its natural landscape, the fruits of which are found at our farmer’s markets, along our waterways, in our forests, and campgrounds. Add to that a thriving downtown that sees music spill out of pubs and clubs and mix with the delicious smells of our dynamic indie-restaurant scene, and of course the venerable Quaker Oats Company. This all sets the stage for the many exciting festivals that kick the season into high gear. At the forefront, is Peterborough Musicfest.
Boasting Amazing Talent
Our Del Crary Park stage has hosted the likes of City & Colour (solo), Crash Test Dummies, Carly Rae Jepsen, Big Wreck, Tegan and Sara, Our Lady Peace, Tom Cochrane, The Reklaws, Kiefer Sutherland, Walk Off the Earth, Tyler Shaw, Randy Bachman, Chad Brownlee, and many more.
The quality of our line-up generates a sizeable audience – some 135,000 in 2019 – which in turn provides an economic boost that helps fuel our downtown and area tourist attractions. An economic impact study commissioned in 2023 pegged the number at $4.3 million; a significant boost for our hotels, restaurants, and bars. Musicfest also helps create the equivalent of 93 jobs throughout its annual summer run.
We’re funded by corporate sponsorships (most of whom are small locally owned businesses), through multi-level government support, fundraising initiatives, and private donations and we remain steadfastly, and uniquely, free of charge for our audience. That’s right – it is absolutely FREE to see the likes of Sloan, Serena Ryder, Gordon Lightfoot, 54.40, Blue Rodeo and so many others at Peterborough Musicfest because this feisty, industrious, creative city believes music should be enjoyed by all people, regardless of their ability to pay.
We’re proud of what we’ve built and we invite you to be part of it. Please consider supporting us and definitely come out to see a show! We look forward to an incredible 37th season starting on June 29, 2024 – we really do hope to see you down at the park!
To provide diverse free-admission live music that enriches the cultural and economic prosperity of our community.
Musicfest’s success rooted in its founder’s vision
Born in Alberta, Anderson lived in Ottawa before settling in the Peterborough area. A Korean War veteran, he served in the navy before retiring from the service in his 40s. Not one to sit idle, Anderson took a teaching job at Fleming College and rose to become the school’s director of continuing education. All the while, his vision of organizing and staging a free admission summer concert series took shape. After retiring from the college in 1987, Anderson devoted his full attention to that vision. Over the next 17 years, Anderson was the festival’s guiding hand.
Thirty years on since that first concert – ironically, current Musicfest general manager Tracey Randall was employed with the festival in 1987 and again in 1988 – the festival remains the highlight of the summer season for thousands, both area residents and visitors to the region. An estimated 125,000 flock to Del Crary Park each summer.
“I think if he (Anderson) was here, he would be pretty pleased with where it’s gone with the numbers that come out and the calibre of talent that it draws…the model has stayed pretty true,” assessed Peterborough Musicfest board chair David Feeley at the reveal of this year’s concert lineup.
Anderson himself, upon his 2003 resignation as festival chair, noted, “The festival can go forever; it’s like a rail car…you can’t stop it.”
And so Musicfest will indeed continue, its success firmly rooted in the vision of a man who dreamed big and then made his dream a reality to the benefit of thousands.