VegFest London Is An Incredible Place To Be Inspired, Learn, Connect, And Eat Delicious Food.
VegFest London is an exciting festival that informs, inspires, and celebrates plant-based lifestyles as well as sustainable and healthy living. This fest is great for vegetarians, vegans, and anyone who lives plant-based lifestyles to see what delicious options are available to them in the London area, but it’s also an amazing opportunity for those who are curious and want to learn more about it. Part of the vision for VegFest London is to grow the awareness about the impacts of our food choices on both animals and the earth.
VegFest London offers up a lot of delicious food. If you’re not really convinced that anything could be as delicious as meat, then let VegFest London change your mind. They have everything from body-nourishing health food, to deliciously indulgent junk food, and all of it is kind to the planet and kind to animals. For those who already enjoy a meatless life, VegFest London is a great place one-stop shop for all of your favorite London Ontario plant-based foods. London Ontario has a lot of delicious things to offer for sustainable and healthy living, so come hungry!
There are also a lot of product vendors and services at VegFest London for people to explore. Health is so much more than just eating well, and if you’re looking for vegan alternatives to a lot of the animal-tested, chemical-filled products that are out there, then check out the amazing array of vendors at VegFest London.
If you’re wondering about bringing the kids, rest assured that VegFest London is a family friendly event. Kids can learn about living a lifestyle that keeps the planet and animals happy and healthy, all while still getting to use great products and eat delicious food.
VegFest London is so much more than just a festival. It’s a festival that inspires and informs. It’s a festival that is all about building up community and compassion. It’s all about sustainable living and show that plant-based lifestyles are not only good for you and the planet, but are also really awesome! We don’t know what options are out there and available to us because the market is saturated with non-sustainable and non-planet friendly products. But alternatives are out there, and not only that, but the products are really awesome. You don’t have to sacrifice quality, functionality or even taste in order to be part of sustainable and plant-based living.
This year’s VegFest London is going to take place on Saturday, November 10, 2018. It’s from 10am-6pm, so there is lots of time to see all of the incredible vendors see what’s on stage, and eat delicious food.
Admission to get in the doors is only $5 and because this is a family friendly event, kids are totally free to get in!
There are over 150 vendors at the event, so there is plenty to check out. From shopping and eating to learning and connecting as a community, you’re going to want to check out everything that VegFest London has to offer. There is also a photobooth, sponsored by Purdy Natural and Booch, so make sure to stop by and take a photo. The event is using the hashtag #vegfestldnont.
Guests are going to be able to find amazingly delicious food at any of the 4 food trucks and the 53 food and drink vendors. Keep Christmas in mind as you look through the 50 shopping vendors and 10 nutrition and health vendors. There are also 7 sanctuaries and animal rescues and 14 groups and organizations. You can see the whole list here.
11am-12pm: Living a compassionate life and advocating for animals (at any age)
Hear from an 11 year old animal rights activist who has given a TEDx talk at age ten and who decided for herself to start eating vegan at the young age of five. She attends protests and demonstrations to try and get the word out there about living a compassionate life.
12:30pm-1:30pm: The role of farm animal sanctuaries
Learn from Susie Coston, who has been working with animals used in food production for over 23 years. It’s easy to think of animals in a lump and not as individuals, but Susie strives to get us to see the animals as the complex and unique individuals that they are.
2pm-3pm: Animal Law 101: How we can all be legal advocates for animals
Canada has some of the worst animal protection laws in all of the Western world. Learn from Camille Labchuk, is the executive director of Animal Justice, and a leading animal rights lawyer about what we can do to speak up for the creatures who cannot speak up for themselves.
3:30pm-4:30pm: Food choices can either poison or promote life
John Lewis was 315lbs when he was just 13, but worked hard and started choosing health to lose the weight. His mission now is to prevent obesity through education, physical activity and plant based lifestyles.
4:30pm-6pm: Justin Plet performing a great mix of canadiana, current Indie, 70s folk, and music to sing along to!
Sit back and enjoy the beautiful live performance and catchy music!
10:30pm -11:30pm: Eating to be kinder to the earth
Caterina Lindman will take you through the reasons why whole-food plant-based diets are so essential for the health and sustainability of our dear Earth.
12pm-pm: Eating plant based on a budget
A lot of people think that you can’t have a healthy, nutritious, plant-based diet while still pinching pennies, but Toni Okamoto, blogger and author, will show you just how wrong that thinking is. Learn how to cut out meat and eat healthy without breaking the bank.
1:30pm-2:30pm: Cooking demo – Aquafaba is the new miracle egg replacer
Chef Yoda has all the low-down on the newest and greatest egg replacer: Aquafaba, which is a bean water. Chef yoda will demonstrate how to replace eggs in both sweet and savory dishes right there on stage while she informs you all about this new product.
3pm-4pm: 101 Reasons to go vegan
James Wildman uses humor in this presentation to look through all of the benefits that plant-based diets have on not only us and our health, but also on the earth, the world, and of course the animals. This presentation will empower people to make the choice that right for them and the world.
4:30pm-5:30pm: Cultivate connection, engender empathy, prepare for peace
Amanda Barker is passionate about changing our perspectives from the framework of punishment and rewards to a framework of empathy and compassion. She’s passionate about inspiring others to start to look at life through the lens of meeting needs and living life through empathy.
This family-friendly event even has a space for kids! There’s face painting and activities by ReBirth Wellness Centre.
The Boombox Bakeshop
The Boombox Bakeshop is all about serving up delicious veg-friendly baked goods and coffee in this unique music-themed bakery and cafe.They specialize in baking incredibly delicious vegan and even gluten free vegan delights. Anyone looking for incredible cupcakes, popovers and mini pies but want gluten-free and vegan options should check out this bakery.
Not only are their baked goods delicious, but they also support local businesses. They use fresh and organic produce and work with local farmers and distributors. Even their coffee is roasted locally and is specially blended for their shop, so that you get a unique coffee experience there.
They also have a record swap and drop there for those who love music.
Plant Matter Kitchen
The Plant Matter Kitchen is a one of a kind restaurant in London Ontario that is all about being local-conscious and uses flavors from around the globe. They take healthy, plant-based meals seriously and create incredible flavors and inspired menus. They have an incredible fusion menu that nourishes your body. They use cruelty-free, locally sourced, and organic ingredients.
Your skin deserves the best. Purdy Natural’s motto is “if you can’t eat it, then don’t put it on your skin.” They are an all natural skin care line that only uses the highest quality ingredients that are grown straight from the earth. Their ingredients are fragrance and dye free. They also support local businesses, which is always a bonus.
Rebirth Wellness Centre
The ReBirth Wellness Centre believes that when a baby is born, a mother is born too and mothers need support and place to help with the ups and the downs and the overwhelming days of motherhood. ReBirth has health and wellness professionals that are dedicated to helping moms with motherhood. Services that they provide include registered massage therapy, physiotherapy, chiropractic, naturopathic, acupuncture, reiki, doula, counselling, breastfeeding support, yoga, fitness, stroller bootcamp, childbirth education, and more!
Yoga and goats go together like peanut butter and jelly. The Benevolent Barn is a yoga and farm sanctuary. They provide restorative yoga sessions, self care retreats, and even mini retreats. Not only that, but they also raise money for rescue animals like goats and pigs.
Booch creates hand crafted kombucha made from local, organic and fair trade ingredients. Their company promotes health and community. Their drinks have health benefits and promotes gut health. It also has a smooth and refreshing finish. Their flavors range from raspberry lemonade and chaga chai to greens and old fashioned.
In 2013 Krista Kankula, the VegFest London’s founder, attended Niagara VegFest and Toronto Veg Food Fest. That is when she had the idea to bring something like that to London. With a passion for making a kinder and healthier world, she created VegFest London. It’s an annual festival that is organized and run by an incredible group of volunteers who are dedicated to making it an awesome event year after year. The volunteers help behind the scenes, but also on the day of the festival, they help to hand out swag bags, sell merchandise, support speakers, assist in the children’s area, take photos, and even dress up as friendly vegetables.
The goal of the festival is to educate and showcase alternative and plant-based food, health, and beauty products that are all vegan. Every year they get experts to speak, give live cooking demonstrations, and to attend the resource area of the festival so that Londoners can get informed and understand the facts of plant-based lifestyles.
Since 2013, which was the first ever VegFest London, over 23,500 people have attended the festival, and they’ll continue to spread the word and get more people interested in attending the incredibly informative (and delicious) event!
If you’re already living a sustainable, plant-based lifestyle, if you’re wondering what the big fuss is about, or if you’re interested in potentially starting a compassionate-drive meat-free lifestyle, then make sure that you catch VegFest London. You’ll get the chance to see what plant-based options are actually out there for you, eat delicious food, learn from incredible people, and connect with a community rooted in compassion and sustainability.
Comic Con is not just about comics, it’s a celebration of all fandoms and anything in pop culture in the most awesome way possible. Whether you’re into movies, TV shows, comics, games, or even books, you’re going to find your fellow fans in Comic Con. This is the place to let your inner nerd shine. This is the place where you can feel comfortable being able to quote the first four seasons of The Office almost word for word. This is place to embrace all of the useless horror movie trivia knowledge that you have. This is a place to truly take pride in whatever fandom you are a part of. Are you a potterhead? A whovian? A ghosthead? Sherlockian? Trekie? Warsie? It doesn’t matter. All are welcomed.
London Comic Con is all about having a fan-first experience. This isn’t a place for you to just walk around and look, the creators of this event want you participating, touching things, talking to people, and having a truly immersive experience. You’ll get to meet other fans, celebrities, and even characters.
London Comic Con is actually Southwestern Ontario’s largest Comic Con, so people from all over come to London to check out this cool event. The number of visitors has been steadily growing with each year, and reached over 13,000 in 2017. They even outgrew their venue and had to switch to the Metroland Media Agriplex at the Western Fair District, which is located in the Old East Village neighborhood. This new venue has more floor space, which means an even better event for guests, and even better WiFi!
This event is a great way to meet and connect with people, dive in to your favorite fandoms, and revel in all things nerdy and pop culture. Trust me when I say that this is an event that you really don’t want to miss out on.
To be perfectly honest, one of the best things about Comic Con is the Cosplay. People put time and money and their incredible creative brains into creating the most elaborate and detailed costumes. People really go all out for it. No matter what your fandom is, you can bet that you’ll be able to find someone in Cosplay for that fandom. It’s actually a great way to meet people and bond over your shared love of a specific comic, game, book, movie, show, or character.
But whether your cosplay skills are all leveled up, or you’re starting out as a noob, you’ll feel at home in Comic con.
There is a cosplay corner in the artist alley for those who want to promote their cosplay or thier fan group, so if you’re trying to make it as a professional Cosplayer, you’ll want to check that out.
There’s a Lens Mill Store competition for those who participate in cosplay at Comic Con, which means that you have a chance to win cash and prizes, just for having a ton of fun cosplaying all weekend long, which is a pretty sweet deal if you ask me. But of course, if you’re not in to the idea of a competition, you can always just dress up for fun. I mean, how many excuses in the year are there to dress up in costume and play pretend like you used to do when you were a kid? Not many.
In the Cosplay Photo Booth, there is a professional photographer there to take your picture and make you look as awesome as possible in your cosplay outfit. The cool thing is that this is totally free. You get the services of a professional photographer, and the memory captured for life all completely free.
In the Cosplay Headquarters, there is a Cosplay Repair Station with costume experts on site, because if your costume rips, or malfunctions, you wouldn’t want to have to leave to repair it. The experts will have you fixed up and ready to show your love for your fandom in absolutely no time.
Comic Con goers can also enjoy the live script readings where voice actors will perform hilarious renditions of classic scripts.
For anyone who loves LARP (Live Action Role Playing), there will be both metal and foam LARP battles throughout the weekend for people to sign up and participate in.
There is also a Cosplay Party where you and all other cosplayers can party and dance the night away. Who knows, maybe you’ll be able to find the Princess Leia to your Hans Solo and party the night away together. It’s a great place to meet other people who have similar interests as you, or to just enjoy hanging out with your friends at a really cool party.
There are a few fandoms that make a prominent appearance at London Comic Con in the Cosplay Headquarters. The first of these is Ghostbusters. With the hilarious new movie that came out a couple years ago and the nostalgia of the original, everyone loves the Ghostbusters. An exclusive Ghostbuster Experience is held at Comic Con and fans can get together and enjoy.
The next feature fan group that is going to be making a prominent appearance is the Canadian Dalek Empire and the Dr. Who Society. Whovians from all over Southwestern Ontario can come and show their die-hard love of the show that has spanned generations. Make sure to get your picture taken with the Tardis and with the Dalek (but keep a close eye on that Dalek. We all know they cannot be trusted).
Of course no pop culture convention would be complete without having Star Wars being a big part of it. We’ve stuck with it from the very beginning in 1977, through 8 movies, with more still coming, and we’re not looking to give it up any time soon. Fans of Star Wars can expect some interactive fun and the chance to hang out with your favorite characters.
Interactive Fan Zones
Get ready for incredibly immersive fan zones where you can not only look, but actually do. Whether you’re a Dr. Who fan, a Star Wars Fan, a gamer, or a total horror nut, you’re going to find really cool zones and enjoy unique experiences. You’ll get to have photo opportunities, see incredible cosplayers, interact with your favorite characters, play games, and you’ll even get the chance to raise money for children’s health foundation.
Every year London Comic Con brings in a famous vehicle from an actual big hit movie. Imagine getting to see the Batmobile up close and personal. Or maybe the DeLorean from Back to the Future will be the impressive, right-there-in-front-of-you vehicle that you’ll get to see and check out. Whatever it is, you know it’s going to be really cool to see something that you’ve only ever been able to see on the silver screen right there in real life.
Echo Three, which is a popular Star Wars fan group will be hosting the Star Wars Fan Zone. They will be in full costume and anyone who wants to stop by will get to take pictures with the group (with the Death Star as the backdrop) and play some really awesome Star Wars-themed games.
The Nomad Ghostbuster team will be manning the firehouse, fully armed with their proton packs and ghostbusting gear. You’ll be able to take pictures with the crew and will a life size Vigo painting. Enjoy some fully loaded ghostbusting games with the Nomad Ghostbusting team and so much more when you stop by this fan zone.
The Dr. Who Society of Canada and the Canadian Dalek Empire and coming together to host the incredible Dr. Who Fan Zone. You’ll get to see a full sized Tardis (I mean…not on the inside, because…well, Whovians know). You’ll get to meet and interact with fellow Whovians, and you’ll get to see a small army of Dalek robots, so be on guard! They’re only sort of friendly.
Joe Hart’s THING Fest has got to be one of the coolest fan zones in Comic Con. THING is one of the greatest and most nostalgic movies of all time, and in this zone you’ll get to see the largest collection of THING memorabilia and get to see up close, in real life, real and replica movie props. You’ll be totally blown away.
The insanely popular YouTube show, Trekyards, will actually be shooting live and in person their YouTube show from London Comic Con and will include a special segment.
Another popular fan zone is definitely the Monster Museum. Sinister Laboratories puts together in incredible interactive experience each year at Comic Con that sends horror fans into a tizzy of delight. If you’re brave enough to try it out, you’ll get to experience the shocking, horrifying, and terrifying when you dare to enter the Monster Museum. Don’t worry though, the people at Sinister Laboratory have been told not to bite, so you can feel all of the thrill of the horror without the worry.
The Sodat Collectibles’ Putrid Playhouse is not for the faint of heart. Mike Thain is an incredibly talented horror artist and his creepy creations are enough to churn even the strongest of stomachs. He creates custom figures by smashing together the most horrifying of creations to bring you creatures straight out of your nightmares. There is the playhouse photobooth for fans to take pictures in with dolls, toys, and strange creations as props to give you a truly horrifying picture to take with you and cherish forever.
The Horror Zone is going to be where you want to head to if you want to get any ideas for Halloween. Costumes, t-shirts, and movies are just a few of the things that you get get your hands on. You’re also going to find Killer Coffee and Deadly BBQ Sauce and a ton of other incredible merchandise and memorabilia that will speak to your horror heart.
The Horror Zone is also home to come amazingly fun retro horror games. Comic Con goers can take some time to relax and enjoy some thrillingly themed horror games that will take you back in time and hit you with a wave of nostalgia.
You know what’s better than playing in an arcade? Playing in a free arcade. Woodstock Custom Arcades is stocking London Comic Con with classic and retro arcade games like Araei, Super Nintendo and Sega. They’ll have the joysticks and buttons from those classic arcade games that filled your childhood. They’re all free to play all weekend, so be prepared to really get into it and enjoy some good old fashioned nostalgia. Woodstock Custom Arcades actually make custom machines that you can order and have made for your own home! Just imagine how cool that would be to have an arcade game that you could play whenever you want with absolutely no line up.
If you’re a big fan of games, take a walk through the History of Video Games, which was curated by the PC Museum.. You’ll get to see everything from the start of video games and their humble beginnings to the biggest videogames to take households by storm. You’ll get the chance to play some really cool historic video games that are really rare and thought to be lost forever. There are incredible artifacts to see too!
The Pinball Arcade is the place to go if you’re a fan of pinball. You’ll get to see classic machines as well as the newest and coolest. Pinball has gotten so advanced in the past few years, you’ll be blown away to see and experience the differences.
If you’re a fan of Risk, then you’re going to love this. There are Risk tournaments throughout the weekend. Some are will the traditional game board, but newly designed versions will be played with as well. They’re designed by Nove-e-Tales. Instructional games are also there and teaching seminars for those who don’t know how to play and want to learn how to conquer the world.
There will be Indie Game Developers there to showcase their work and give you hands on experiences with their games. There are all kinds of games including tabletop, Android and iPhone, and virtual reality games. You’ll be able to experience them all and see what is happening in the Indie Game world. The coolest part is that these games were all created right here in Southwestern Ontario.
Kids Activity Zone
Parents can have the chance to relax while their kids enjoy the Activity Zone, which is geared towards kids and family-friendly entertainment.
Heroes Comics hosts the kids coloring table where kids can color in beautiful original art pieces created by comic book artists. Kids can sing and dance along with their favorite characters in live sing-a-longs and puppet shows. Your kids will get the chance to meet some of their biggest heroes and favorite characters as they wander through the kids zone. For the gamer kids, there are kid-friends games for them to get their hands on and enjoy playing. There are superhero inspired arts and crafts to keep their hands busy and minds active. Last, but certainly in no way least, there is a bouncy playground to get out all of their pent up energy and excitement.
If you’re a film nerd, then you’re going to want to catch some of the awesome screenings that happen at Comic Con. They’ve got a nice, big screen and great sound, so you’ll be immersed in
the experience. You’ll be catching the newest flicks from professional and independent filmmakers that are both internationally and locally produced. The films come from all genres, so there is something from everyone. Directors, cast and crew will be there for you to meet and talk to.
If you’re heading to London Comic Con, you’re going to want to bring your wallet. They have 100+ vendors selling everything, including trending toys, memorabilia, collectibles, hard to find items, comics, clothing, and even video games.
Workshops & Seminars
Industry insiders lead sessions and workshops so that you can learn the secrets of the trade and all of the insider information. You’ll get to learn about things like comic book history, costume making, costume makeup application, and voice acting. Some sessions are serious debates, debates about latest trends, and podcasts.
The Artist Alley is a place for professional and up and coming artists and creatives to showcase their amazing talent. You’ll find incredibly unique, handcrafted wares from artists, illustrators, writers, and comic artists. The things you’ll get your hands on in the Artist Alley are things that are original art and include things like buttons, cross stitching, sketches, limited edition prints, and so much more. It’s a great place to look for gifts for Christmas too!
There is a stage and breakout rooms throughout the event that will host fun entertainment for Comic Con goers. You’ll get to see stand up comedy, script readings, live broadcasts, pro-wrestling, martial arts, and even some record-breaking feats. You won’t want to miss a thing so make sure to check out their schedule.
London Comic Con always brings you the best, the most nostalgic, and the coolest celebrity guests. You’ll have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet them and even have a photo taken with them in an intimate setting, so that you’re not overwhelmed by screaming fans as you get this chance to stand with your hero and have your picture taken by a professional photographer. You’ll get a fantastic print you can even choose to get a digital copy so that you can make all of your Instagram followers insanely jealous.
There are media sessions at the Metroland Media Stage where celebrity guests will chat about their career and their lives. Fans are welcomed to ask questions too, so you can FINALLY ask the questions you’ve been wanting to for years and years.
You can also choose to get an autograph from these celebrities with a personalized message to you. Either bring something from home for them to sign, use the photo that you took together, or take one of their provided pics.
There is a huge comic book area in London Comic Con. I mean, comic is in the name of the event, so how could there not be such a large space dedicated to it?
Both rare and collectable comics can be found in the MASSIVE collection. There are a lot of bargain comics that you can buy too, even as low as $1. Honestly, the collection is huge, so basically, if you’re looking for it, you’ll probably find it here. So you won’t walk away empty handed. You’ll also get to meet amazing creators and illustrators of comics such as Richard Comely,Dan Parent, J. Torres, A Shay Hahn, Fernando Ruiz, Soo Lee Illustrator, Scott Chantler, RB White, Neil Collyer and most subscribed comic book Youtuber, ‘Caped’ Joel Daly.
There are going to be after parties located all over the city, both dance nights and pub nights. Keep an eye on the schedule to make sure you don’t miss out on partying with your fellow nerds in at least one party or another.
If you’ve never been to London Comic Con, or any Comic Con, then try it out this year. You won’t believe how much there is to take in and how much fun you can have. Make sure you’re checking out the schedule so that you don’t miss anything that you’re really looking forward to. Trust me, it’ll be a weekend that you never forget.
The Western Fair is an autumn fair and agricultural exposition held annually in London, Ontario. Typically lasting for ten days in early September, the Western Fair features a collection of local food, livestock expositions, food trucks, amusement park rides, and entertainment acts of all types. The Western Fair has been a staple of London’s Septembers since the late 19th Century, and the district wherein it takes place has it’s own permanent infrastructure and is used year-round for events and expositions. The fair is a huge draw for the entire London, Ontario region. As the largest autumn fair in southern Ontario outside Toronto’s annual Canadian National Exposition, it is the culmination of the year for those who take part in competitive agriculture, a perfect place to catch a big festival music show in a smaller, more relaxed setting, and the perfect place to take the family for an afternoon or two as the school year swings back into gear.
The Western Fair was not the first large autumn harvest fair to be held in London, Ontario. That honour goes to the Provincial Agricultural Fair of Canada West, an annual provincial fair held in various places in Ontario from 1846 until 1878. The Provincial Agricultural Fair of Canada West was first held in London, Ontario in 1854, when the fair was set up between Talbot St. and the Thames River, where the recreation grounds for the London Life complex are now located. The fair would be held in London several more times throughout it’s life cycle. Each of the subsequent iterations of the fair would be held in downtown London, on British military property near Victoria Park, between Waterloo and Richmond St. The first time the Provincial Agricultural Fair of Canada West was held in London, it was attended by James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin and 12th Earl of Kincardine, who was at the time Governor-General of the Province of Canada. He is best known in Canada for being the person who started the process toward introducing the concept of responsible government in the province; in the British Empire as a whole, however, he is more well-known for his later position as Viceroy of India between 1862 and 1863. Later fairs would be attended by Prince Arthur, the Duke of Connaught and Stratheran, as well as Canada’s first Prime Minister Sir John A. MacDonald.
While the Provincial Agricultural Fair of Canada West would fold in 1878 as Toronto decided on a permanent annual fair (the Canadian National Exposition), the cities that hosted the fair would decide to go forward with fairs of their own. London was no exception to this; the city of London, Ontario decided to establish an annual autumn agricultural fair of their own even before the demise of the travelling Provincial Agricultural Fair of Canada West.
The Western Fair was first held in September, 1868, northeast of Victoria Park. Like the Provincial Agricultural Fair, it was held on the grounds of the Crystal Palace Barracks, a British military garrison in downtown London. The Crystal Palace Barracks were first built in 1861, in the same year that the second instance of London hosting the Provincial Agricultural Fair occurred. The Crystal Palace itself was a white brick building shaped like an octagon, with a door allowing entry through each one of it’s eight sides. In addition to the doors, the Crystal Palace featured 48 windows along the second floor of the structure. The original Crystal Palace Barracks is long since gone. When the Western Fair moved in 1887 to it’s current location, at Queen’s Park (or what is now known as the “Western Fair District”) they held a contest to design the new main exhibition building for the fair. George Durand, the winner, designed a building with thirteen high circular arches and extremely large windows. Since it was modeled after Sir Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace in London, England, Durand’s design was also (somewhat confusingly) called the Crystal Palace. Paxton’s Crystal Palace would outlive Durand’s, but not by much; the Ontario version burned to the ground in 1927, while the English Crystal Palace would suffer the same fate but in 1936.
When the fair moved to Queen’s Park in 1887, it also gained full legal status under the Provincial Charter and Act of Incorporation; the license fees and purchase of the land deeds cost the city $65,000, or approximately $1.6 million in modern terms. It has operated there mostly ever since, taking over the grounds of Queen’s Park and becoming an operation that works year-round to deliver information and entertainment to the city of London. The only period of time in which the Western Fair was not held at the grounds now known as the Western Fair District was between 1939 and 1947, when the District was appropriated by the Department of National Defence to be used as a centre for recruitment and training of soldiers during the Second World War.
The Western Fair has long been a place to showcase technology and the change of culture. Electricity, now so embedded in society that it’s unthinkable to live without it even for a few hours, was first introduced to the people of Western Ontario at the 1883 Western Fair. Night exhibitions were implemented that year, with the exhibits lit with what was, near the end of the 19th Century, cutting-edge technology: incandescent light bulbs. In 1912 the Western Fair brought London it’s first art gallery. By 1918 the Western Fair needed to figure out a way to deal with an influx of a new, obnoxious problem: how to find places to park both horse-driven and motor-driven vehicles. The solution then was to build an underpass into the area surrounded by the horse-racing oval; the designated area was chosen so that the newfangled “noisy contraptions” would not disturb the animals being entered into competitions. In 1960, one of the most attended attractions was a fully-stocked bomb shelter; five years after the USSR had tested a nuclear bomb, this showed that the Western Fair had it’s finger on the pulse of what people were most concerned about.
In addition to technology, cultural change has often been reflected in the Western Fair. When the fair first moved in 1887, people living in the city of London wrote letters to the editor of the London Free Press to complain that the Fair was oriented too much toward farmers and breeders, and did not have enough items of interest for the average urban dweller of the 1880s. This can be seen as an echo of the struggle between the traditional economic base of rural agriculture and the growing force of urban manufacturing. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Fair Board convinced the city to let married men on government relief attend the Fair for free. The debate over this reflected a number of societal concerns at the time; some on the Fair Board expressed concern that giving such people free passes would condition them to expect free passes, while others on the Fair Board suggested that married men on government relief should also be given the first chance at taking on part-time jobs building and running the Western Fair. Prohibition was another social battle fought at the Fair; around the turn of the 20th Century, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union agitated against the sale and consumption of alcohol on the fairgrounds. In 1930, finally acquiescing, the Fair briefly went alcohol-free.
The Western Fair typically begins on the Friday of the second full week of September, and ends on the following Sunday, operating for ten days of fun and competition. There are a number of features that draw in patrons from London and elsewhere, each of which will be examined in brief. The gates open at 3 PM on the Friday of the Fair and there’s a lot to see, so planning in advance is always your best bet.
Music has always been a major focus of attraction at the Western Fair. The Fair has attracted a rich combination of local talent and big-name acts from Canada and abroad. In the 1990s, the Fair attracted a series of cutting-edge Canadian alt-rock acts like Moist, the Headstones, the Tea Party, and Wide Mouth Mason. In the modern era, the Fair brings in a wider variety of acts to appeal to as many Fair patrons as possible. The 2013 edition of the Fair brought newer, flashier acts like Fefe Dobson and Lights together with established acts like Hanson and Loverboy; 2014 put eclectic Ontario rapper Shad together with classic rock aficionados The Sheepdogs and actual classic rockers Glass Tiger. In 2015, the Fair tried going in a different direction, partnering with Live Nation to bring big acts to London for outdoor concerts outside of the Fair time. The flagship effort of this was a Van Halen show on August 5th, 2015; the outsized expenditures associated with this, however, convinced the Fair to return to big-draw concerts during the Fair again in 2017, bringing 54-40 and LOCASH. Going forward, the Fair will focus on designing concerts around acts that strike a balance between the new chartbusters and the older, more widely popular performers, as well as the usual collection of stellar local talent.
The rides are a perennial draw to the Western Fair as well. The rides are for many a main attraction to the fair; if you aren’t that enthused with the musical choices and you aren’t into farming and breeding competitions, you can at least get excited about the fact that the Western Fair District transforms into an amusement park for ten days in the early autumn. The ride layout at the Western Fair typically offers crowdpleasers like the Ferris Wheel, the log flume, the Euro Slide, bumper cars, and the haunted funhouse. In addition, recent iterations of the Fair have brought in more high-intensity rides, the kind you might find more at home in Canada’s Wonderland: the Mega Drop, the Swing Tower, the Wave Swinger, and the white-knuckle grip of the Ring of Fire. Families can rest assured that there are rides suitable for the littler ones as well, including everyone’s favourite starter roller coaster, the Dragon Coaster. Whatever your level of thrill-seeking inclination, you’re sure to find something fun to take a ride on at the Western Fair.
Aside from concerts and rides, the Western Fair is marked by an array of entertainment options to fit whatever you’re personally into. The demolition derby is an extremely popular semi-annual affair, bringing all types of drivers and their cars together for big smash-em-up fun. A similarly big draw is the championship rodeo, which has amazed and delighted crowds for years with a display of pure roping and riding skill. Also of note are the wandering entertainers: a collection of clowns, magicians, hula-hoopers, jugglers, and one-man-bands. It’s hard to go five feet without getting entertained, and that’s all part of the fun of the Western Fair.
Food And Drink
In addition to entertainment, the Western Fair is also a great place to pick up loads of food and drink. There are, of course, the usual types of fair food on offer: the Western Fair is awash in favourites like hot dogs, hamburgers, pretzels, and those deep-fried bits of heaven known as elephant ears. However, there is also a space near the King Street entrance to the fairgrounds that is set aside for the I Love Local part of the Fair, where local food, local drink, and local music come together to show fair patrons the best that London, Ontario has to offer. For local food, the Top Of The Fair restaurant offers grass-fed beef burgers, pork belly skewers, smoked turkey wings from Hayters Farms, pogo dogs and chorizo sausages from Sikorski deli, and cheeses from Gun Hill Farm. Drink is provided by two of London’s best craft breweries, Crafty Elk and downtown favourite Toboggan, whose Mr. Insurance Man is easily one of the best blonde ales ever made. While sampling the best vittles the London region has to offer, you can also take in a collection of local musical acts that run the gamut from rock to folk to country and back again.
Now that you’ve definitely decided that attending the Western Fair is the thing to do, how can you go about doing it? For the 2018 season, tickets are available both in advance and at the gate. Getting them in advance is the more recommended option, since they’re quite a bit cheaper. General adult admission is $10 in advance and $15 at the gate; children between 5 and 10 are $4 in advance ($5 at the gate) and children under 5 are admitted free of charge. You can also get a Super Pass in advance, which costs $40 and gets you a single admission plus a Ride-All-Day pass, which lets you on to the rides without the need of counting out coupons. The Ride-All-Day pass on its own is $40, so getting the Super Pass in advance is a much better deal.
The rides cost coupons, which can be purchased at the central ticket booth in the middle of all the rides. A single coupon costs $1 and there are bulk-purchase price breaks; however, even at a break of $50 for 55 coupons, it makes more sense in that regard to simply purchase the Ride-All-Day pass and thrill-seek to your heart’s content.
Advance entry tickets to the Western Fair are available through the Western Fair website, but for those more inclined to pay for things in person there are tickets available at the Administration Building (316 Rectory Street) during the working week, as well as the Sports Centre (865 Florence Street), and the Market and the Grandstand Building in the Western Fair District.
Parking is free on the Western Fair District grounds and the lot is open from 10 AM until 3 AM every day. Public transportation is also available, with four routes stopping at the Western Fair District: the 2 Dundas, 7 Wavell, 20 Cherryhill, and 22 Trafalgar routes.
London Ontario’s BlockParty is bringing you great music, good vibes, and lasting memories!
Summer is one of the best times to live in London Ontario. The warm weather months are full of festivals and events to keep your summer full of amazing memories. And summer is made for making memories that will stay with you for a lifetime. BlockParty is exactly the kind of amazing London, Ontario event that is made for making memories. BlockParty is one giant party that lasts for the weekend. You can choose to attend both days, or just one, but honestly, once you have a taste of the first day, there is no way that you’re going to want to miss out on the second. This music festival is all about having the hottest and best artists playing for you and bringing you music that is pumping, vibes that are grooving, and the kind of performances that leave a lasting impression for a lifetime.
The EDM artists that are lined up for this year’s BlockParty are the best of the best. They are the kind of DJs and performer that understand how to respond to the crowd and give large groups of people exactly what they need to have an amazing time, enjoying unreal music in a live setting. Anyone who has been to a music festival before knows that DJs who pay attention to the crowd are the best kind. There is so much more to the crowd than just enjoying the music. The comradery and connection that you feel towards your fellow partygoers grows with each and every song that you experience together in this incredible setting.
This incredible non-stop fun party takes place in the downtown neighborhood, which means that it’s right in the heart of London Ontario and is accessible to all. You’ll get to meet all kinds of different people at an event like this as Londoners come together to make memories together and celebrate this beautiful city that we live in.
BlockParty has been an annual event in London Ontario since 2010. It used to take place in a block in the downtown, where they would section off the roads from cars and event goers could party on the streets of their beautiful downtown city. Then it was moved to a parking lot in downtown, which was setup to host the party, but in recent years, BlockParty was moved to be hosted in the absolutely beautiful and perfect venue of Harris Park.
The benefits of this move is that it’s still downtown and still close to the after party location at London Music Hall, but it’s also right next to the beautiful Thames River, and is set in a stunning green park with trees and the city skyline as the backdrop to this incredible music festival. It’s an incredible experience that no one should miss.
The event has always brought in incredible talent in the vast EDM genres, but it feels like every year they manage to top the last with the explosive and entertaining party experience that they craft for all of the music festival goers.
DJs come from all over the world, and some started local, but every one of them is full of talent and knows how to really interact with the crowd.
This event takes place in Harris Park in London Ontario, which means that this amazing event is set in a beautiful park with beautiful views of the Thames River right there. Harris Park is located right on the edge of downtown, which means that you can spend the day shopping, eating, and exploring, and then have just a short walk to the event!
BlockParty is an annual event and this year it’s going to take place on September 15th and September 16, 2018. The event is a rain or shine deal, so if the forecast is calling for bad weather, be prepared to get a little wet. Entry into the festival is from 4pm-10:15pm and once you’re in, you’re in. There is no re-entry. But don’t worry, everything you’re going to need is right there in that event.
You can get them, cash only, at the box office at the front gate day of, but let’s be honest, no one wants to wait until the last minute to get tickets for an event this good since it’s first come first serve.
Instead of waiting, you can get your tickets beforehand at the London Music Hall box office, ticketmaster.ca, or by phone by calling 1-855-985-5000.
Here are the ticket options available:
General admission – single pass. $65 – Friday.
General admission – single pass. $65 – Saturday.
General admission – Two Day pass $89.50 – Friday and Saturday
VIP – Two Day Pass $109.50 includes, VIP only entrance, VIP only area near stage, VIP only raised platform, VIP only bar, VIP only washroom
VIP SQUAD – Six pack of VIP tickets $480 includes, VIP only entrance, VIP only area near stage, VIP only raised platform, VIP only bar, VIP only washroom
The best bang for your buck is the VIP SQUAD pack. Each of the six people only end up paying around $80 per ticket, which means you’re getting the VIP treatment on the cheap. But those tickets are limited to a smaller number so that VIP still means shorter bathroom wait times, shorter bar lines, and getting into the event faster. Plus, who wouldn’t want to be closer to the artists performing?
But no matter what ticket you go with, you’re still going to have an amazing experience enjoying truly amazing sets put on for you by incredibly talented artists who want nothing more than to keep the party going for you all evening long.
The only bad part of a giant, fun party is the end of it. But the end of BlockParty does not need to be the end of fun. Every year there is an official After Party. It’s located just a short walk away from Harris Park at London Music Hall. It’s a 19+ event and there is one following each day of festival starting right at 11pm.
Keep the good times going, the vibes pumping, and the fun never-ending by heading to London Music Hall right after BlockParty to enjoy more music, more good times, more drinks and more fun. On Friday, Sept 14th the opening set at the After Party is going to be KINGZMN. On Saturday, the opening set is going to be Khardiac.
Of course staying hydrated is so important when it comes to festivals. You don’t want to get dehydrated and sick and miss out on the fun, so BlockParty has free water stations set up for people to fill up and stay happy and hydrated. They’re allowing small, clear plastic water bottles to be brought in so that you can fill up with water throughout the day.
One of the best parts of festivals and events in London Ontario is the amazing food vendors that we have here that participate. Delicious food, that is going to hit the spot in a big way, is going to be available for purchase. And don’t worry, there are gluten-free options included in those vendors, so you’re bound to find something tantalizing to snack on, no matter what your restrictions are.
For those who want to wash down their food with a nice cold beer or some other kind of alcoholic beverage, there will be bars set up in the event so that you can do just that. Because what kind of party doesn’t have a bar? Not this one.
BlockParty is designed to leave you wanting for nothing so that you can enjoy the venue, live off the vibes, and make memories to last a lifetime. If you’re hungry or thirsty, there are things available. ATM available on site, just in case you forgot to bring cash with you. There are also restrooms available. Those who were smart enough to purchase VIP passes are going to have access to VIP only washrooms, which means shorter lines and wait time. First aid stations with emergency professionals are right there for you, just in case you need it, but make sure to stay hydrated and take care of yourself so that you can enjoy the music festival to the full effect. There are a bunch of parking lots all located in a 1-3 block radius since this event takes place in Harris Park, which is right on the edge of downtown. But why bother driving at all? There are multiple bus routes that go to Harris Park, so why not just take public transit and enjoy the day, worry free.
This year’s BlockParty is going to give you the best in class when it comes to EDM. Get ready for artists that are ready to play to a crowd and give you all of the hype, energy, vibes that you would expect from an EDM concert. But more than that, this lineup of artists is structured specifically to keep you flying from one musical high to another completely different experience all evening long.
Zedd is an award winning DJ, record producer, and songwriter. He’s talented and plays multiple instruments. He’s mainly creates electro house music, but has also created other genres such as progressive house, dubstep, and classical music.
Kaskade is a DJ, remixer, and record producer. He won 2011’s America’s Best DJ award.
Andrew Fedyk and Joe Depace make up this DJ and remixer duo.
Markus Schulz is a music producer and DJ. He also is the founder of label Coldharbour Recordings and Schulz Music Group. He’s worked with artists such as Madona, Jewel, and Fat Boy Slim.
BTSM, aka Black Tiger Sex Machine, is an electronic music trio. They’re known for their dark and aggressive electronic music as well as their performances that are so much more than just DJ performances.
MELVV creates bright and cheerful EDM music. He’s a producer and used music to get out of depression. He’s also known for his R&B musical influence on his work.
Wax Motif is a DJ and producer. He has had the support and critical acclaim from some of the most popular in his genres such as Diplo, A-Trak, and Major Lazer.
On the Red Bull Stage the lineup includes:
Pleasurekraft has a beautiful vision of displaying the beauty of the cosmos through techno music. They are “creating a space within the genre reserved for music that is not only danceable, but thematically inclined toward a higher consciousness.”
Saad Ayub’s beautiful blend of trance, techno, and progressive house music makes his dance music a unique sound that invigorates crowds.
Tim Penner has been working in the electronic music industry for over a decade. He is known for sounds that are atmospheric, has incredible builds, and orchestral soundscapes.
Weska makes techno music that is specifically made to hit majorly on big sound systems.
Alex Hawken is an electronic musician that blends techno, disco, house and more to make an incredible dancing experience.
Bassoo is a DJ in the electronic music genre.
Darien Night & Wil
This DJ/producing duo creates Dance, EDM, House, Deep House, and Future House music
FDJT is an electronic DJ that is gaining traction fast. On top of that, FDJT isn’t taking himself too seriously and is incredibly relatable as he makes killer beats.
Fuego is a talented electronic musician that is going to provide a great experience.
Justin Chung’s music could be described as “groovy” or “catchy”. He blends tech-house, minimal, techno, tribal, progressive, and electro.
Get ready to feel the music that Marcos creates.
The Incredible Melting Man
Incredible Melting Man, aka Melty, is an award winning electronic artist who thrives on live performances and hyping up crowds.
If you’ve never been to Blockparty before, then let this be the year that you start. It’s the perfect setting to enjoy yourself, forget all of the things in life that might be getting you down, and enjoy the wonders that this great city offers: a beautiful park, amazing events, delicious food, fantastic music, and good vibes.
AIRSHOW LONDON TAKES SPECTACLE TO NEW HEIGHTS IN 2018
Each summer Airshow London wows Western Ontario spectators with aerial feats, High-tech aerospace technology, vintage aircraft, interactive exhibits on the ground, and yes… Loud noises.
Every year, the show gives attendees the chance to get hands-on with a wide array of military and vintage aircraft. They can climb into the cockpits, walk on the fuselages, and talk to the crews. Every visitor seems to have their favourites along with lists of questions for the relevant pilots and likely photo and selfie opportunities to wow friends and social media audiences.
About 35,000 spectators head to the London International Airport each year to attend the event that stands as the largest military aircraft in Canada and the third-largest military aircraft airshow in North America. With highly-anticipated U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet strike fighters, Cold War era F-16s, A-10 Thunderbolts, F-22s and the exciting new F-35 Lightning II having taken to the skies over London in past years, Airshow London has established its clout as the largest demonstration of military air power. The event is a two-day attraction that draws spectators from as far away as Europe. American spectators are also commonly encountered at the event.
In the past and on occasion, the event has had to call specific days on account of rain – but this perennial concern has never outright cancelled Airshow London, while it was running. However, before returning in 2016, the airshow wasn’t held for about 12 years, citing escalating insurance costs, and concerns regarding the event’s ability to remain safe and secure amidst numerous international terrorist threats. Eventually, a committed and passionate group comprised of London airport personnel and Fanshawe College staff and students, a new not-for-profit vision of what Airshow London could be was made a reality.
Occasionally, certain aircraft citing specific safety criteria had to be grounded and sometimes the risk just isn’t worth it for the sake of entertainment. Thunder and lightning are always prime considerations, and the safety of pilots, crews, and attendees is always the first consideration for organizers who have to make tough calls. But now Airshow London is back for keeps, and the city is thrilled to host it. The organizers are thrilled to not only be the ones to bring the airshow back, but to also play a key role in supporting the Children’s Health Foundation, Parkwood Hospital, and the Fanshawe Norton School of Aviation at the same time.
A committed team of in excess of 500 volunteers is required to pull off Airshow London every year. Some 100 of these volunteers work year-round to make the event go off without a hitch. All in all, the volunteers each contribute to an amount of time that is into the hundreds of thousands of hours every year – indubitably one of the largest and most committed volunteer efforts that go into events of this scale anywhere in the world. The event certainly makes a big deal about their volunteers’ collective efforts, recognizing them as the heart and soul of the event’s personality – the friendly faces that interact with and answer questions for the majority of the visiting public. As a non-profit event, Airshow London raises money for the Veterans’ Care Program and the bursary and scholarship initiative at Fanshawe College’s aviation program, based here in London.
A Special Mission
“We want to see those kids [at the Fanshawe Norton school of aviation] stay in London. We want to attract aerospace industries to London. London is an aerospace defensive hub corporately for Canada, and it’s important that all those folks in that industry have a place to show it off. The other reason is Londoners just really missed the airshow. It’s been very exciting to have all that community goodwill,” said airshow president and chair, Jim Graham speaking to Global News.
“We’ve got the F-35 demo team, we’ve got the F-35 sea aircraft, first time it’s ever been outside of the United States. We’ve got F-22s, F-16s, A-10s. We’ve got the Canadian Forces F-18 demo team, we’ve got the Snowbirds, and much much more, and that’s just the flying stuff,” said Graham. “On the ground, we’ve got a whole group of heavy aircraft, big refuelers. There’s going to be wings, airplanes, engines, and all kinds of afterburners in the sky.”
For Graham, safety is of the utmost concern. “Absolutely no drones. The no-drone zone around the airport has been expanded to 10 miles. The London Police Service, as well as a number of the other security services, are going to be enforcing that with great vigilance. It’s dangerous to pilots, dangerous to the crowds. Use those drones other days and elsewhere please,” he said.
The shutterbug in your family or group of friends will appreciate the ASL Photo Contest that happens now each year. Sponsored by Nikon, the contest takes advantage of all the action and lets attendees share their own stories through telephoto lenses. Last year’s contest saw over 750 entries, with the winner (Daniel Larouche) taking home a $500 ‘grab bag’ of photography gear and accessories for his shot of the Super Hornet (below).
Leading up to the September 7 – 9th event NIKON will be offering tips on how to take your aviation photo techniques to greater heights. Follow NIKON on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube for more information.
For the second year in a row, Lockheed Martin is taking the top sponsor spot in a show featuring some of their most dazzling aircraft. The company issued the following in a press release in anticipation of the event:
“We are so pleased to see Lockheed Martin return to AIRSHOW LONDON. All eyes are on our city as we prepare to host Canada’s largest military display,” said Mayor Matt Brown. “London is a leader in the aerospace and defence industry and we are looking forward to welcoming partners from around the globe for ASL 18.”
“Lockheed Martin is proud to return to AIRSHOW LONDON as the presenting sponsor for the second consecutive year,” said Charles Bouchard, Chief Executive of Lockheed Martin Canada. “As a global leader in developing the world’s most advanced aircraft, we are thrilled so many of our platforms will be on display. From the mighty C-130 Hercules and C-5 Galaxy, to the F-16 Viper and the highly advanced F-35 Lightning II, AIRSHOW LONDON has attracted Lockheed Martin’s biggest and most exciting aircraft.”
Rexall (at whose locations tickets can be purchased)
BMO Wealth Management
Siskinds Law Firm
Try Recycling Inc.
M&T Printing Group
Pratt & Whitney
Alpha Door Systems Inc.
London District Heavy Construction Association
Royal Fence Limited
DoubleTree (by HIlton)
London’s Role in Canadian Aviation
Also quoted by Global News is Captain Matthew Kutryk, an F-18 pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force who has been flying in airshows all summer long.
“So normally I’m flying the grey F-18 operationally as a tactical section lead. This summer I take the same aircraft, but I’ve got a special paint job. I’m taking that aircraft, showcasing the aerodynamic capabilities of Canada’s multi-role fighter the CF-18. Flying that jet in its clean configuration, when I say clean I mean there’s no external weight on it, no external tanks or weapons. It is the engineered aerodynamic limit of the aircraft,” said Kutryk. “So I get to take it as fast as it can go, as high as it can go, as low as it can go, and as slow as it can go, transitioning between those regimes with very aggressive aerodynamic manoeuvres. Loops, rolls, high-angled attack… how fast I can turn, it’s amazing. As a pilot and as a fighter pilot, it’s like a dream.”
“I think London has a special place in most fighter pilots’ hearts,” he continued. “There’s two reasons for that. One is the geographic connection with a lot of guys being from this area that currently fly the F-18, but the other connection is the support and enthusiasm we see here in London. This show here in London this weekend at the end of September is our last Canadian show of 2017. We’re pretty fired up. It’s been an amazing season getting here to London. Seeing the crowds pre-show on a Thursday is a bit of an indicator of what’s to come. On top of that, the weather forecast is absolutely gorgeous. I’m enthusiastic, and I know my whole team is pretty excited to wrap the season up with the big one here in London.”
Food Services Available
Airshow London provides more than just exciting things to see and do for attendees. A considerable list of varied food vendors will also be onsite to keep visitors well-fed for the two-day event:
Big Daddy Bacon
Anne’s carmelcrisp Ltd.
Pappas Greek Food truck
Smokestacks Food truck
Bifana Boys Ltd.
J. Bogal Foods
Bayak’s Lebanese Cuisine
Gates open at 4:00 p.m. Friday, air display begins at 5:00 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday, the gates open 9:00 a.m. and air display begins at 1:00 p.m.
Parking will be managed by volunteer attendees each day and visitors are encouraged to follow their instructions at the various offsite parking locations. The following lot information will allow visitors to plan their day. FREE shuttle bus service will provide transportation from the off-site lots to the main gate. See below for shuttle bus times and schedules. Please note there is NO VISITOR PARKING available at the AIRSHOW LONDON venue including the main Airport Terminal. All parking is distributed through off-site parking lots and VIP lots. These lots will be serviced by a free shuttle service directly into the venue. Visit the website for the most up to date parking info.
Guests can pre-arrange for VIP Parking at the Huron Street East location. Guests must enter these areas on Huron St. eastbound and not via Crumlin Rd. VIP parking can be pre-arranged or a $10.00 cash fee will be charged to allow entry. A shuttle bus will transport guests to the Admission Gate. Contact Airshow London in advance to arrange for these needs.
Parking for those with accessibility concerns will be available in the VIP Parking Lot located at the east end of Huron Street east of Robins Hill Road. All vehicles must have a valid Accessible Parking Permit displayed on the vehicle. All off-site parking lots will have accessible parking available. A drop off zone is located at the front of Cargo Building, 2480 Huron Street, East.
General admission single day tickets are $30, $15 for students and children aged six-12, $25 for veterans, military, or seniors, and children under five get in for free. Tickets can be purchased at the following locations across the Western Ontario region:
Rexall Store Locations
740 Hyde Park Rd – 519-471-7262
1551 Dundas St E – 519-451-0510
Beaverbrook & Wonderland – 519-657-2580
1593 Adelaide St N – 519-645-7760
1240 Commissioners Rd W – 519-474-7424
1795 Ernest Ave – 519-681-2482
1505 Highbury Ave N – 519-457-3387
350 Oxford Street E – 519-432-7164
71 Sandwich Street – 519-736-1022
401 St Clair St – 519-436-0005
697 Cathcart Boulevard – 519-332-5575
440 James St – 519-627-3388
1215 Ouellette Ave – 519-256-1700
1775 Sprucewood Ave – 519-250-3988
3840 Howard Avenue – 519-967-8512
706 Dundas St – 519-421-3784
Kids aged 12 and under get in free if accompanied by a valid ticket holder. Tickets are also available at the gate or online.
With an extensive history of being a blue collar town, London has always been a city that needs to blow off some steam. Thankfully throughout the summer, there are many festivals held in the downtown core. The most rockin’ of these festivals, of course, is London Bluesfest, London’s annual celebration of all things blues and classic rock. In terms of sheer sweat and raw volume, there’s little to compare; if you want a good time, guaranteed, then London Bluesfest is the place you need to be.
I was raised in the house of a blues purist. Forget King Crimson, or Elvis the King. The only kings of my adolescence were Freddie, Albert, and B.B. While he accepted that there were some Englishmen who were capable of playing the blues well – Eric Clapton, John Mayall, Jimmy Page once in a while – it was largely an American phenomenon and his approach to it could be summed up in the title of Mississippi Fred Dowell’s classic album: I Do Not Want No Rock ‘n’ Roll. Rock ‘n’ Roll was a whole different thing: an amalgamation, a pastiche, a mutation. The blues itself was the pure, Platonic form, lifted whole and breathing from the history of the 19th and 20th Centuries and set forth to the masses.
What Are The Blues?
The blues came from the songs sung by African-American field hands in the American South, songs meant to regulate the speed of the planting and harvesting work, as well as from spirituals sung as a form of prayer. From this there evolved a form of music that had a few basic rules governing what it meant to “play the blues.” First was the call-and-response nature of the music, an outgrowth of the form’s origins in the fields. While working, the lead hand would call out a chant and the workers would respond with a chant of their own. This simple work pacing strategy can be seen in the structure of later blues standards like “Call It Stormy Monday (But Tuesday’s Just As Bad).” The call and the response are both right there in the title, although in the case of the song the singer (sometimes also known as a “blues shouter”, especially when they can get their voice over the crowd without the need for amplification) handles both roles. This is the whole of a single blues verse: a quatrain of the same two lines repeated followed by a third, finishing line:
“They call it Stormy Monday / But Tuesday’s just as bad / They call it Stormy Monday / But Tuesday’s just as bad / Wednesday’s worse, and Thursday’s oh so sad.”
In a sense this is repeated as well in the actual musical structure of a blues song. Like all great art forms there are specific strictures to how a blues song is formed. W.C. Handy, the “Father Of The Blues” and the man who moved it from the Mississippi Delta to Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee, laid it down in writing. The blues are played in twelve bar segments, popularly known as “the 12 bar blues.” These twelve bars follow a specific chord progression, based on the key: the chords will be the first, fourth, and fifth chords of that key. The melody will always involve the use of some “blue notes”, typically minor-sounding notes, for example the third and fifth in the key. This has been popularly described as a sound akin to a person crying, or sometimes a woman screaming (hence Clapton’s famous “woman tone” that he dialled out of his guitar when he played with Cream in the mid 1960s). At the end of the main chord sequence, blues bands often throw in a “turnaround” sequence for the last two lines as well, a little pattern that reverses the chords and walks them back in a new direction. A great example of this latter feature is found in Elmore James’ classic standard “The Sky Is Crying.”
In addition to the twelve bar structure and the use of specific chord progressions, the blues is also a certain subject matter. The blues are, at their heart, an anguished and passionate cry against everything that’s sorrowful in one’s life. If your job is getting you down, money is a worry, then the blues are there to worry along with you. Otis Rush’s “Working Man” and Fenton Robinson’s “Somebody Loan Me A Dime” are two great examples of this. Much more common, of course, is the blues about relationships. B.B. King’s classic “The Thrill Is Gone” talks about how painful it is when you fall out of love. Willie Dixon’s “I Can’t Quit You Baby” is about going back when you know you shouldn’t. Buddy Guy’s “Someone Else Is Steppin’ In (Slippin’ Out, Slippin’ In)” is about infidelity, as is Howlin’ Wolf’s “Back Door Man.” Love, and it’s fallout, has been the fodder for popular songs since time out of mind, and it’s no different when it comes to the blues. Relationships are the closest thing we have to a universal human experience, so it’s popularity as a subject matter should come as no surprise.
From The Crossroads To The Smokestacks
The blues came from the fields, to be sure, but it’s origins as a form of popular music stem specifically from the Mississippi Delta. The long-standing practice of blues players to play a specific form of the blues (known quite naturally as “Delta Blues”) around the turn of the 20th Century as well as the success of W.C. Handy in mixing the blues with ragtime and jazz led to some record producers to come poking their nose around the area as early as the 1920s. Freddie Spruell went to Chicago to record “Milk Cow Blues” in 1926 and it’s largely regarded as the first recording of that Delta blues sound. Son House and Robert Johnson would also record, the former in Wisconsin and the latter in Texas. Robert Johnson is likely the origin of the blues’ reputation as having a sinister vibe. The legendary bluesman who goes to the crossroads at midnight to receive unearthly abilities from the devil himself is an amalgamation of Johnson’s life and music. He sung about going down the crossroads and falling down on his knees, after all, and his life and death were mysterious and complicated. He died at the age of 27 under suspicious circumstances. Blues legend Sonny Boy Williamson claimed he had been there and that Johnson had died after drinking poisoned whiskey supplied by the jealous husband of a woman that Johnson had been flirting with. As for the unearthly abilities, his only recordings from 1936-1937 show the power and passion that the Delta blues offered. Keith Richards, a longtime Johnson devotee, claims that when he and his friends first heard Johnson’s recordings they assumed there must have been two guitarists on the recording; the idea that such complicated patterns could be wrought by one guitarist did not even cross their minds.
The journey of the blues from their steamy Mississippi origins to remaking the entire sound of popular music in their image got it’s kickstart during the upheaval of the 1940s. African-Americans in the South travelled north after America was brought into the Second World War in the finals days of 1941, chasing economic advancement in the bustling industrial works of the North. Chicago was the rail hub for all the lines coming up from the South, and so it was that Chicago was the city where the slippery, rain-making sound of the Delta Blues first met the roil and clang of modern industrialism and it’s resultant technologies. That is to say, it’s where the Delta blues got plugged in. Guitars became the real focus musically. In the humidity of the Delta they were an easy, portable way to accompany yourself; in Chicago, they became electrified, amplified, and carried all of the raw power that old Delta songs like “I’ll Be Your Hoochie Coochie Man” promised. The blue notes, played on guitar, evoked a new kind of power that made people’s ears perk up. That electrified Chicago sound found its way across the continent rapidly after the end of the war: it filtered back into the South, where it caught fire again in Memphis. The common mythos is that Elvis Presley picked up the sound and married it to the fast-shuffle rhythms of Southern country & western music to create rock ‘n’ roll; in truth he was just a mainstream face for artists like Chuck Berry who were already lighting a fire in the youth of the towns they visited.
From The Smokestacks To A Theatre Near You
Rock ‘n’ roll was especially popular in England. Kids in the 1950s ate it up and merged it into their own musical traditions, giving birth to, among other things, the Merseybeat scene that sent The Beatles out into the world. A small number of those early rock ‘n’ roll scene kids took the time to go further back and find out where Elvis and Co. were copping their moves from. This would involve importing old blues records from America – The Anthology Of American Folk Music, which highlighted a number of the old Delta players, as well as select records by icons like Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Howlin’ Wolf, and Robert Johnson. This was considerably expensive, so the English blues movement was at first very localized; it’s a popular and important fact that Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page all went to the same high school and traded records.
The influence of those imported blues records on the subsequent landscape of rock ‘n’ roll cannot be overstated. Robert Johnson was the driving force behind Richards, Jagger, Watts, and Jones to form The Rolling Stones. Led Zeppelin’s first two albums are practically Willie Dixon cover albums. The graffiti around London in the mid-1960s might have claimed Clapton as God but he was really just riffing off the Bible written by the old American blues masters. Jimi Hendrix, who shaped the blues into something raw, expansive, and psychedelic, was at the root a disciple of Chicago blues legend Buddy Guy. Furthermore, while the actual note-for-note sound of the blues diminished over the decades as that original blues-rock sound became mixed with countless other genres, the blues are still constantly present in all forms of popular music. That I-IV-V chord progression is insidious; it gets into everything, and if you listen closely to songs on the radio you’ll realize that most of them are either using that progression or have mutated it carefully in some way. Even music that explicitly rejected the old way of doing things couldn’t help it; if you take The Ramones and strip away the leather jackets, the wide-leg stance, and the snotty attitude, you’re left with 25 years of I-IV-V chord progressions. The blues are still everywhere, and still have an effect on how we shape and consider popular music as a whole.
The London Bluesfest
The annual London Bluesfest, typically held in Harris Park near downtown London, Ontario, is a celebration of all of this history and musical sentiment. For four days Harris Park is taken under the wing of those soaring blue notes and audiences are shown what it means to “play the blues.” The festival attracts blues acts both local and international. Past and present shows have included local favourites like Bill Durst (formerly of London legends Thundermug) and Ray Fuller. At the same time, they’ve attracted international names in droves, including Canadian blues icon Colin James as well as American acts like Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Robert Cray; the 2018 lineup included Savoy Brown, one of the earliest of those fateful English blues bands. In an effort to attract a wider audience (since the blues unfortunately is still a niche genre on it’s own, despite how much of modern music is made in it’s image) London Bluesfest also features a number of extremely recognizable classic rock acts: past and present performers have included Canadian icon Burton Cummings, southern rock standard bearers Molly Hatchet, jazz-rockers Blood, Sweat and Tears, Rick “Rock and Roll Hootchie Koo” Derringer, and Blue Oyster Cult. While this move has been controversial in some circles, the classic rock bands that London Bluesfest have brought in are all offshoots of the blues themselves, so the heart of the festival is still based around the mournful, lonesome cry and the jumping jukebox shuffle of the blues.
While the blues have power and majesty when listened to at home, on record, when they are experienced in a live setting it is another thing entirely. The late Gord Downie once said “the blues are still required” and part of that requirement is seeing them performed live, by a band that’s been doing them for years, a band that plays the blues as well as they breathe, or walk. If you are a fan of live music – or of music at all, really – then the London Bluesfest is the annual summer festival to go to in London, Ontario.