“A cut above the competition artistically.
The festival has been punching above its weight class for years.”
– Mike Devlin, Victoria Times Colonist.
Sharing Music and Culture
What started as a small local event as the Sooke River Bluegrass Festival has grown into a major regional event attracting Grammy and Juno calibre artists from across North America. After outgrowing our site at Sooke, we moved to Laketown Ranch Music Park near Lake Cowichan, B.C. in 2019 and rebranded as the Cowichan Valley Bluegrass Festival.
The festival is genre-specific to bluegrass and Appalachian-style “old-time” music, which is different than what music fans find at traditional folk festivals that dominate the Canadian festival landscape. In addition to main stage performances, events take place throughout the weekend that are participatory in nature, including hosted and spontaneous jam sessions, vocal, instrument and dance workshops, and a Saturday night outdoor square dance.
With most participants camping on site, we create a 24-7 village where people listen to, learn, play and share bluegrass and old-time music in the oral traditions from which they sprang.
We encourage the participation of families and youth by admitting FREE those 17 and under accompanied by a paid adult. We are committed to Indigenous reconciliation, expanding diversity within our genre and welcome everyone regardless of race, genders or creed. Our artistic vision is to stay genre-specific in the fields of bluegrass and Appalachian-style “old-time” music, which makes us distinct in the festival landscape.
“There isn’t a festival with a better vibe that I’ve ever seen. Best spread of age groups of any festival I’ve been to. It makes a difference!” – Jeremy Freeman, Vancouver.
“A great variety of acts, and not a bad one in the bunch. Very impressive.” – Paul Norton, Vancouver Co-Op Radio.
“The best festival for community vibe. Thank you for running an excellent festival.” – Victoria Pang, President, Victoria Bluegrass Association.
“Cowichan Valley Bluegrass Festival is amazing. British Columbia is beautiful and they really know how to treat people up there.” – CJ Lewandowski, Po’ Ramblin’ Boys, Nashville
What Drives Us
The Cowichan Valley Bluegrass Festival’s vision is to present high calibre artists in the fields of bluegrass and old-time music, and to support emerging artists in these genres.
Our festival, the largest of its kind in British Columbia, is an opportunity for amateur and professional musicians to come together to learn, create, and share bluegrass and old-time music in the oral traditions from which they emerged. Our 24/7 village atmosphere offers a unique cultural experience for players, fans and visitors alike as they explore music and dance developed in North America by the European immigrant diaspora and enslaved people going back more than 200 years.
Our festival is participatory and experiential, with social and cognitive benefits that are essential to human flourishing. It enhances the cultural life of Vancouver Island, the Cowichan Valley, and all who come to explore the recreational and culinary amenities of the region.
- Music performances of the highest calibre accessible to a wide variety of audiences of all backgrounds.
- On-site music education and performance workshops to enhance public engagement with the arts.
- Outreach concerts for public schools in the Cowichan Valley area to bring this unique form music to a new generation.
- Emerging artists at the festival to connect developing and young artists with nationally and internationally-renowned performers.
- Increase audiences to enhance quality return on investment for sponsors, media partners and regional stake holders.
The festival begins in