Stories of Resilience

Coldsnap Winter Music Festival Goes Virtual

2 Mins read

Prince George Folkfest Society is proud to have been bringing together musicians and music lovers for more than a decade. Since its inception in 2003, the society has presented summer and winter festivals, with its flagship winter music festival, Coldsnap, being held annually every January and February since 2008.

During the winter months when BC’s northerners are starved for entertainment, Coldsnap is a nine-night festival that brings the community together and presents artists in a variety of settings. Their traditional format includes ticketed evening concerts at event spaces, ballrooms and soft seat theatres, and free daytime community outreach events at schools, recreation centres, and local businesses.

After holding out hope all through 2020 that BC’s Northerners would be able to gather and celebrate together in 2021, the society made the decision in December 2020 to alter their approach from their traditional festival, acknowledging the need to keep attendees, artists, production crews, staff, and volunteers safe. 

On December 22, 2020, organizers announced, “a plan to present an amazing live-to-livestream festival on our website” along with “no cover charge to view these performances, thanks to the generosity of our wonderful funders and sponsors.”

Coldsnap organizers knew that they needed to find an innovative marketing solution and turned to the Northern BC Tourism Resiliency Program for support. “I signed up for the newsletter so that I could be updated on tourism in Northern BC, and the program caught my eye as something that could be helpful for my work with Coldsnap,” said Ferris Vasko, Coldsnap’s Marketing Manager. Adding, “We knew that it would not look like the same festival, so, as usual, I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to speak with someone who had experience and knowledge in marketing for online festivals.”

The Tourism Resiliency Program was eager to help organizers adapt, particularly with marketing this very different festival. The program advisors assisted organizers as they researched innovative platforms that would provide the best audience experience. It was important to organizers that the festival be focused on the live music feeling and that the spirit of Prince George remains at the forefront. 

Vasko went on to explain, “Alex from the program connected me with a marketing consultant who had been working on festivals, and livestream festivals, for several months. This conversation was immensely helpful to me, I learned a lot of good things to keep in mind in my own marketing plans, how to track the success of the campaigns that we have running, and get an idea of how the rest of the world is running things right now. Everyone is figuring out how to operate activities in wildly different formats, and it feels like the arts community, in particular, has been coming together to help each other out as much as possible. Overall, I got important questions answered and valuable advice that I would not have otherwise received.” 

The innovative new festival format will happen from January 29 to February 6, 2021, and will present two artists per night, starting at 7:30 pm PST. The Coldsnap for Kids concert will also go on, happening Sunday, January 31 at 1 pm. The performers’ roster includes the likes of Kym Gouchie, Maureen Washington, Blue Moon Marquee, Pharis and Jason Romero, and Smithers’s adopted son Alex Cuba. In addition to nine nights of exceptional evening entertainment, Coldsnap will also present a series several of instructional daytime workshops that will focus on the magic of making music, details of which can found on their website.

“This has been a rough year for everyone and we are excited to bring the music that we love directly into our audience’s homes where everyone can feel a little safer. Live streaming is very new for us but we are excited to have a great team helping us create a wonderful experience!” said Sue Judge, Artistic Director. 

To learn about the festival: