Spring in Orillia is a special time. As the first few warm breezes across Lake Couchiching bring a promise of new life to the region, excitement over the return of large cultural events in the city begins to stir.
One of the most anticipated signs of spring is the return of the annual Roots North Music Festival. The first major music event of the year, Roots North is a four-day long event that brings a variety of well-known Canadian artists to perform across both paid and free stages throughout downtown Orillia and beyond.
The festival’s roots remain in celebrating homegrown talents, not only of local musicians but also of local artisans and small business owners. Included in the well-stacked main stage lineup taking place at the historic St. Paul’s Centre, Roots North also hosts dozens of performances inside local shops, restaurants, and businesses throughout the region for free admission. This, along with the sheer volume of music genres explored throughout the festival, is what makes coming back year after year an exciting experience.
“Roots music can refer to several styles or genres in music, but to us, it’s music that is firmly rooted in a place of honest expression and emotion.” RootsNorthMusic.ca.
Roots North takes place from April 20 to 23, with main stage performances booked for Friday and Saturday evenings. The 2023 headliners include an impressive mix of Canadian artists, with Toronto-based supergroup Tommy Youngsteen and two-time Maple Blues award nominees Ronnie Douglas Band taking the stage on Friday evening, while acclaimed pianist and singer Michael Kaeshammer, Juno award nominee Kellie Loder, and singer-songwriter Meredith Moon take the stage on Saturday. Weekend passes can be purchased online for just $65 and grant you access to each headliner show. An onsite bar, hosting products from Quayle’s Brewery along with goodies from Mariposa Market, will also be available.
Roots North is an annual sell-out, but don’t worry if you miss out on getting your main stage pass. The festival encourages wristband swapping between friends and family so fans can attend select shows, and of course, entry to other concert venues throughout the city, as well as the onsite vendor market where local artisans display their work, remain free.
What makes this year special, says organizer Derick Lehmann, is explosive growth in the artist lineup, making for an all-day, weekend-long music event; “we like to expand each year, and we’ve met that goal. We’ll have over 20 performances beginning on Thursday evening and going throughout the weekend including new Sunday Brunch performances this year.” Exciting new venues outside the downtown core now include Lot 88 on Memorial Avenue in Orillia and Quayle’s Brewery in Oro-Medonte. To view the full expansive lineup, visit rootsnorthmusic.ca.
If you’re looking for something to kick-start your spring and summer festival season, Roots North is the experience you’ve been looking for. Visit rootsnorthmusic.ca to reserve your weekend pass, check out the artist lineups, and plan your weekend in Orillia and Lake Country.
Looking for a place to stay during the festival? Visit our Orillia accommodations page.
All photography is owned and supplied by Roots North Music Festival and Knight Vision Creative Agency.
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