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London Ontario’s largest live music festival

It’s summertime in downtown London and you know what that means – Festival Season! The city hosts a wide array of themed events over several months, but perhaps none are a bigger draw than Rock the Park. The annual 4-day concert held during the last week of July offers something for everyone, no matter what their jam might be. So pick your night. Dig into the back of your closet and find that old Supertramp t-shirt or even a neon fanny-pack to pull together the perfect look for your bill of choice. Get your friends together, grab a few water bottles, and get to the park. This thing is going to rock.

History

Formerly known as ‘Hawk Rocks the Park’ from 2004 to 2008, London Ontario’s Rock the Park festival began as a celebration of classic rock, shaking the downtown area and enthralling live music lovers with a new bill of musical acts each summer.

Fifteen years ago, with an eye on London’s Harris Park – a venue with enough space to support a large number of projected attendees, staff, sponsors, and vendors – The Jones Entertainment Group set about realizing their vision for a multi-day rock’n’roll spectacle that would put the city on the festival map. Today the event draws legions of live music fanatics from across Ontario and even the United States every summer, dramatically boosting the city’s tourism revenue. It’s safe to say that The Jones Entertainment Group succeeded in their mission.

In recent years, Rock the Park has diversified from its original focus on classic rock, to help earn broader appeal from festival goers. In 2014, the festival dedicated one of its nights to country music performances for the first time in its history. Following the success of this shift in audience focus, the Jones Entertainment Group saw the value in splitting up the festival thematically, dedicating each night to a distinct musical genre or trend.

In 2017, Rock the Park promoted a 90’s hip-hop night, announcing acts such as Salt-N-Pepa, Naughty by Nature, and Young MC among others, selling out in record time. This year, organizers have put together a bill that riffs on lasts years familiar themes, featuring the likes of Platinum Blonde, A Flock of Seagulls, Men Without Hats, and Cyndi Lauper, attracting similar numbers.

At Rock the Park, nostalgia is always on tap!

A Legacy of Sponsors Rocking Out for Worthy Causes

At its inception, the event was the annual summer blast, presented by its lone sponsor, 103.9 The Hawk, and was the primary fundraiser for Bethany’s Hope Foundation, raising over 2.2 million in the fight against MLD (Metachromatic leukodystrophy) in its first 12 years. Eventually, the charity had plans to embark upon a more nation-wide awareness strategy (made possible in no small part by the funding generated by Rock the Park), and respectfully stepped aside as prime beneficiary in order to make room for other charities to benefit just as they had.

In 2016, the event returned, with three new radio station sponsors sharing the bill – 98.1 Free FM, FM96, and the country station BX93. The number of charities benefited by Rock the Park has grown likewise and has included Big Brothers Big Sisters of London and Area, Make a Wish Southwestern Ontario, The Brandon Prust Foundation, and the ‘Children’s Health Foundation, also acting as sponsor to Western Mustangs Football, raising over $3 million for London area charities. Today, the festival is supported by their main sponsor, Start.ca, along with iHeart Radio, FM96, and 97.5 Virgin Radio, Palm Bay, Tourism London, Coors Light, Pizza Pizza, London Honda, The Ontario Media Development Corporation, and the London Free Press.

Headliners

An impressive list of indie, rock, hard rock, country, pop, and R&B acts have graced the Rock the Park stage since the festival’s inception, including Steppenwolf, ZZ TOP, Peter Frampton, Cheap Trick, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Steve Winwood, The Tragically Hip, The Arkells, Stone Temple Pilots, and younger, up-and-coming acts like July Talk to name just a few. See the official Rock the Park entry on Wikipedia for a complete list of all headliners throughout the event’s 15-year history.

Tens of thousands of rock’n’roll fans attend Rock the Park each and every year. Like most festivals of its size, it has overcome its setbacks. In 2007, one of the headlining bands was meant to be Boston – the band canceled all their tour stops after the untimely death of Brad Delp – but with Pat Benatar, Deep Purple, Nazareth, Cheap Trick, George Thorogood and Creedence, the event was hardly left lacking for a big name draw.

Rock the Park’s promoters have done a great job over the years, not only in signing and promoting great acts for the festival but have also carefully considered the needs of their different audience members, offering flexibility and amenities to ensure that a safe and comfortable experience is had by all, no matter the size of your budget.

Different Ways to Enjoy the Show

The different types of passes available will determine how you can enjoy the show:

Gates open at 4 pm each day of Rock the Park, with live performances scheduled to begin at 5 pm. General admission passes are specific to the general admission area, with access to two large beer gardens and an expansive, standing area right up against the stage.

The VIP Reserved Table Passes are a nice touch for people who like to be entertained in style. These passes guarantee you a seat in a special, reserved- seating table area, also close to the stage. The VIP area is equipped with its own washroom facilities, a separate entrance to help avoid the crowds, and food and bar service at designated stations. VIP pass holders are also welcome to stand for their favorite acts (if they prefer) at a VIP standing area.

The VIP Standing Room Only Pass gets you into the VIP standing area but does not reserve you a chair among the tabled seating.

For those seeking the royal treatment for themselves and their party, concert organizers have ‘suites’ available. These elevated and covered areas look like miniature outdoor stages themselves and provide up to 40 attendees with private bar service and washrooms for the duration of the show. Any interested parties are asked to contact Jones Entertainment Group for pricing.

A raised, designated seating area is always available for attendees with physical disabilities and their companions on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Rock’n’Roll (with Rules)

Due to the size of the park and the need for organizers to keep spaces open for large, moving crowds, there is no camping allowed at the park. Lawn chairs are likewise prohibited. Other similar regulations apply to what festival-goers may bring:

  • No umbrellas longer than 24 inches
  • No lawn chairs
  • No blankets
  • No selfie-sticks
  • No pets
  • No professional cameras / cameras with removable lenses
  • Outside food or beverages will not be allowed into the park
  • Bags, backpacks, and coolers will be confiscated by staff
  • Attendees may not leave and re-enter the park

The event website also says that sound and video recording devices are strictly prohibited, but presumably, smartphones are OK so be sure to capture lots of great moments with you and your friends – share them on social media, tag #rockthepark, and show everyone how you like to rock out!

Area Conveniences

London’s downtown area is home to multiple attended parking lots that offer overnight pricing if you plan to stay with friends. If you and your party would prefer to have your own base of operations for the duration of the festival, downtown London features numerous hotel and Airbnb options that are guaranteed to suit your needs – all within walking distance of Harris Park.

Grab a last-minute bite to eat at any number of London’s downtown eateries, pubs, and bistros, only steps from Harris Park. Check out the Covent Garden Market for snacks and fresh produce. And if you’re still not satisfied after the show, hit up FitzRays or the Richmond Tavern for more late-night rock’n’roll. Visit the London Tourism website for Rock the Park to see a great list of nearby options.

Richmond Row, Downtown London, Ontario

Tickets and Lineups

Tickets for the event have been on sale since March 3rd. The cost of passes ranges in price depending on which nights audience members wish to attend / how much of the four-day festival they wish to see. Different tickets are good for different days, so pay attention when you’re purchasing, or you could well end up seeing a very different lineup than the one you were anticipating!

Two Day Rock Pass (July 11th  and 14th) – $120

Wednesday – Shinedown, Chevelle, Machine Gun Kelly, The Lazys, Bobnoxious

Saturday – Rise Against, Three Days Grace, Theory (formerly Theory of a Dead Man), Pop Evil, Texas King

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday – FM 96 Presents

General Admission Pass – $70 *including HST and service charges

VIP Pass (reserved tables – SOLD OUT) – $125 *including HST and service charges

VIP Pass (standing room only) – $125 *including HST and service charges

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday – Mixtape Rewind

General Admission Pass – $70 *including HST and service charges

VIP Pass (reserved tables – SOLD OUT) – $125 *including HST and service charges

VIP Pass (standing room only) – $125 *including HST and service charges

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday – Bring Back the 90s

General Admission Pass – $70 *including HST and service charges

VIP Pass (reserved tables – SOLD OUT) – $125 *including HST and service charges

Saturday VIP Pass (standing room only – SOLD OUT) – $125 *including HST and service charges

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday – FM 96 Presents

General Admission Pass – $70 *including HST and service charges

VIP Pass (reserved tables – SOLD OUT) – $125 *including HST and service charges

Saturday VIP Pass (standing room only – SOLD OUT) – $125 *including HST and service charges

 

Attendees have two ways that they can pick up wristbands, regardless of which nights they wish to attend. If still available, they can be bought at the Harris Park gates on the evening of the show but buying them in advance is strongly recommended.

The box office at Centennial Hall is the only point of sale and credit card holders must be present at the time of purchase. We have a large box office/will call tent at the main entrance where passes can be picked up. Check with Centennial Hall for their box office hours and note that the box office is always open late during evening performances. Unfortunately, the box office is not able to mail out wristbands or replace lost or stolen wristbands.

Last-Minute Checklist

While there are a lot of things that you cannot bring into the park, there are definitely a few key items that you should in order to ensure that you have a safe and happy experience attending the best music fest in the west.

Water

And more water. The event is scheduled to run rain or shine, and while we all hope for clear skies, this can also mean hot sun and dehydration – especially if you’re planning to consume alcohol. Be prepared to have your bottles inspected upon entry into the park. Like many other outdoor concerts, security may only permit you to bring in unopened bottles of water.

Sunscreen

Of course, dehydration isn’t the only risk the sun poses. Keep you and your friends safe with a high-SPF sunscreen and bring it with you so that you can reapply.

Sunglasses & a Hat

Why not spend the show NOT squinting at the stage – and look cool at the same time. Shades and hats are music festival staples, people! Don’t forget them.

Rain Poncho in a Pouch

Rain or shine, the show must go on! Stay dry to maximize your comfort and help guarantee an enjoyable experience.

Hand Sanitizer

Don’t trust dispensers on premises to NOT run out, and don’t expect everything you need to touch to be clean. Rock’n’roll can be a dirty business. Stay healthy.

Bandana

Another great reason to bring water is to soak a regular old bandana and wrap it around your neck for a great way to beat the heat. It’s an old lifehack, but one that really works. Don’t believe us? Try it for yourself.

Portable Charge Pack

Losing touch with your friends at a music festival because of a dead phone is never advisable. Bring a portable charge pack and take all the photos you want.

Toilet Paper / Tissue

Again, don’t expect necessities like these to NOT run out. When nature calls, you want to be ready.

London Ontario’s Rock the Park just keeps getting better, bigger, and badder. If you’re a local live music lover, you know where you want to be during the last weekend in July. If you’re an out-of-towner, start making your plans now. Sure, Toronto’s got some big festivals that bill big names every summer, but attendees must contend with traffic, enormous crowds, precious little parking, and over the top prices for food and drink.

Why not take a short trip down the 401? Order your wristbands today. Book a nice place to stay, sleep, and relax between the four days of Rock the Park and check out everything else that’s happening in downtown London, Ontario. Work on your air guitar moves, sport that old band t-shirt, and remember to bring the right necessities to ensure that you have a great time, no matter the weather, at Western Ontario’s premier music festival.

See you at the park.