What is Sled Island? It’s nothing you think and everything you need

By Liv Ingram

What is Sled Island?

The easiest, most convenient definition is that it’s a music and arts festival. While this description is technically correct, it’s by no means final.

Sure, there is music and there is art. But there’s more to it than that.

To say that Sled is just a festival is to say that Elvis was just a musician. The words fit, but they’re flat and don’t tell the whole story.

The beauty of the festival is that it encourages you to be more open to serendipitous events. You’ll run into new friends, old friends, friends of friends, but the simple act of being at the festival brings you together and makes you happy it did. Schedules are rarely set in stone. There’s always time for another band or beer.

You don’t get pissed if tentative plans fall through because your friends are probably having an incredible experience they hadn’t planned. Once you allow yourself to go with the flow, your realm of possibility blows open. You might go from drinking gin at folk show, to seeing a Norwegian DJ and dancing until 3:30 a.m., to sharing a cab with local musicians you just met while your cab driver raps in Persian. Anything can happen if you let it.

The program guide contains an endless number of experiences your wristband is the key to. With a lineup that includes over 250 bands and dozens of venues, you end up seeing things you didn’t realize existed — and loving them.

Rhye’s show at Central United Church is something that I’ll be talking about for a long time. Between the soaring vocals and stunning instrumentals, I’ve never had so many feelings in a church. And that was before I sat on the floor of the National Music Centre and watched Jerusalem In My Heart redefine performance with their avant-garde mix of Arabic music and abstract 16mm projections. It was the kind of experience that makes you thankful for taking a chance on something unfamiliar.

With such a vibrant community coming together to celebrate music, art and all of the amazing things that go along with that, it’s hard to say that Sled isn’t something special.

But you’re crazy if you think I can define Sled Island for you. You have to go and experience it. Sled is a lot of things and a music and arts festival is only just the beginning.

Does that answer your question?

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