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No WayHome in 2018. What Went Wrong?

Is this another sign we’re on the downside of peak festival? Republic Live, organizers of WayHome, have announced that the festival north of Toronto will not return in 2018. Instead, they’ll use the time to “reflect, re-assess and re-imagine the event.”

That does not sound terribly encouraging, even though the press release also says “the festival will be on pause in 2018” and that “this isn’t goodbye but so long.”

This is just the latest in a series of festival disappointments across Canada. Pemberton went bankrupt. No Riot Fest. No more Bestival. Squamish has been canceled. Edgefest remains AWOL. Virgin Fest won’t be coming back. The good news is that Quebec’s near-endless schedule of festivals and celebrations–Osheaga, Festival d’ete to name just two–remains intact.

What’s the issue? Competition from too many other festivals worldwide, which has pushed up talent fees at a time when the Canadian dollar sucks. Too few superstar appearances. Scheduling problems. A short festival season. Attendance wasn’t great this year, with a total crowd of about 35,000 (down from 40,000 in 2016, which itself was lower than 2015) with some daily figures dropping below 20K. That awful Friday night thunderstorm that required an evacuation certainly didn’t help.

And while Burl’s Creek is a decent place to hold a festival, it’s still quite a drive from Toronto up a highway that’s always clogged with cottage country traffic. Camping and hotels are added extra expenses (although it should be pointed out that Coachella and Glastonbury don’t seem to have a problem in this area.) The fact that festival culture hasn’t grabbed the country in the same way we see with Glastonbury, Coachella and others.

Festival fans can only hope and pray that the situation is temporary. Meanwhile, there are rumours that AEG, stagers of Coachella, is sniffing around Southern Ontario and may be considering Burl’s Creek for…something. We’ll see.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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2 thoughts on “No WayHome in 2018. What Went Wrong?

  • You didn’t mention how EXPENSIVE Wayhome and Bbots and Hearts are. Greedy owner controls everything

    • That expense reflects cost. Blame the Canadian dollar more than anything.


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