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Northern Lights Festival Boréal is finally here!

There's some great headliners, but maybe you'll discover a new favourite band too
Academy Award-winning musician Buffy Sainte-Marie is one of the main draws at this weekend's Northern Lights Festival Boréal, which runs from Thursday, July 6 to Sunday, July 9 in Bell Park. (Supplied)

One of the best musical weekends of the entire year is finally here. Northern Lights Festival Boréal starts Thursday and runs to Sunday in beautiful Bell Park.

And with headliners like Yukon Blonde, A Tribe Called Red, Whitehorse, Andy Schauf and living legend Buffy Sainte-Marie, music lovers and festival-goers are in for a treat.

“I think this year's lineup is more diverse and more exciting than I could have ever possibly imagined,” artistic director Max Merrifield said.

Thursday evening — yup, the festival has added a day this year — features a full lineup of Aboriginal musicians culminating in a performance by Sainte-Marie, the Academy Award-winning veteran of the music business.

“Presenting various Indigenous artists has always been part of Northern Lights' booking mandate,” he said. “This is an expansion or special highlight, being a little different than what we normally do.”

While there's no doubt those are fantastic headliners, Merrifield said the amazing talents shared by those at the top of the marquee bleed down to every performance, large and small, that graces an NLFB stage.

There's more than 40 shows to choose from, not to mention art displays, kids' activities, fair food, craft booths and much more.

“As always, everyone wants to focus on the headliners, and obviously they're amazing,” Merrifield said. “But for me and those who keep coming back to the festival, we all know it's about discovering new stuff that just blows your mind that you've never seen before.”

One of Merrifield's picks: Bixiga 70, a Brazilian group that takes the main stage at 8:30 p.m. Friday.

“They play afro beat, but in their own style,” he said. “It's just a guaranteed dance fest, and they're super technical players.

“I think everyone's going to really love them, but maybe not see it coming, even though we've been trying to push it out there as much as possible.”

Another highlight is the Party Cannon Pirate Cruise, which places indie rock group TUNS and local all-girl garage punk group The Ape-ettes on a one-of-a-kind musical cruise aboard the William Ramsey at 3 p.m. Saturday.

Visit the festival's website for tickets and more information.

Northern Lights Festival Boréal headliners:

Thursday, July 6: Buffy Sainte-Marie 

Friday, July 7: Yukon Blonde

Saturday, July 8: A Tribe Called Red 

Sunday, July 9: Andy Schauf & Whitehorse


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Heidi Ulrichsen

About the Author: Heidi Ulrichsen

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