Atlin Arts and Music Festival: A Feast for the Senses

The Atlin Arts and Music Festival is preparing for a weekend of music, visual arts, film and food, taking place in Atlin, BC from July 8th to the 10th.

Kim Winnicky is from Whitehorse. She has been the festival coordinator for six years.

“The Atlin Arts and Music Festival is about building community through music and art,” Winnicky says. “It’s a family friendly festival where 2,000 people come together and camp very closely to each other and enjoy a really diverse music lineup, visual arts demonstrations and workshops, and film.”

“We’re going to see a lot of really great music,” says Winnicky, making no effort to hide her excitement, beginning the lineup with a Canadian Icon. “Bruce Cockburn, he’ll be doing a workshop and a mainstage set.

“Also, Tim O’Brien. He’s so great at storytelling and musical storytelling, a great player. He produced the last two albums of Old Man Luedecke, who is also coming up!

“Nefe is a woman from Guelph, Ontario. She’s like a young Tracy Chapman, a powerhouse voice. Dawn Pemberton is coming up. She’s playing with Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer. She’s gospel, soul, funk.

“We have Ghost Keepers coming up from Calgary, and they’re more experimental music. From Anchorage we have Pamyua, a four piece indigenous band that incorporates storytelling and indigenous language and performance art.”

Performers also visiting from outside are Olympic Symphonium from New Brunswick, Paul Lucas and Layton Kramer from Alberta, and Blackberry Wood from Victoria, BC.

As with any good northern festival, there is an impressive roster of Yukon talent, too.

“We have Ryan McNally coming with a six piece. Jonah Barr and Old Cabin, Sarah McDougall, Manfred Janssen and Crankshaft. Scott Maynard. Anger Management, Average Joe.”

Winnicky rambles off the list with the enthusiasm of a parent listing their child’s accomplishments.

The festival utilizes 250 volunteers to pull off the weekend.

“So much planning of a festival is having the right people in the right area. They understand the challenges and the solutions. Many of them return, they love the festival and they feel very engaged. And they are, because they create it,” she says.

With so many outsiders descending upon a small town of approximately 450 residents, it is important to maintain a respectful approach.

“They are very supportive, and we try really hard to hear them when there are concerns. We need to do that because it’s their town. Generally our audience is amazing. When we go to clean up the areas, there is hardly any garbage. We really appreciate that because that’s what lets us continue.”

“Our entire board is from Atlin, so they take care of their town.”

Another important aspect of the festival is the visual arts component.

“There are two visual arts coordinators working together this year, Simon Gilpin and Larry Duguay,” Winnicky says. “We have several repeat (artists) every year and we try to bring new people on.”

The artists do demonstrations and interactive workshops at the festival. This year there will be some drop-in workshops, but the main ones will require festival-goers to register in advance. There will also be a drop-in art tent with materials and supplies and artists on hand to help people create art.

There will be some varied and wonderful food options through the weekend. “There is a real effort to make sure we have a diversity of food just as we have a diversity of music and art. We fill our vendor spots a year in advance.”

As well as the music and visual arts of the festival, they also offer a film experience at the Globe Theatre in Atlin.

“The Yukon Film Society programs it for us. It is very popular,” Winnicky says.

Among the films that will be screened at the festival are Secret Cinema with a live score by Whitehorse rock duo Soda Pony; When We Were Kings, which is a documentary about the 1974 fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Zaire, called the Rumble in the Jungle; We’re Still Here: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears Revisited, directed by Antonio D’Ambrosio; Flexie! All the Same and All Different, directed by Calgary filmmaker Gary Burns; and animated short films for kids.

“It’s about all of us being together.” Says Winnicky. “That’s the best part of it.”

For scheduling, ticket and artist information go to

About The Author

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top