Falling oil prices hit 36th annual Calgary Folk Festival

Posted by Gary Bobrovitz and Masha Scheele on 20 July 2015

CALGARY – The Calgary Folk Music Festival is feeling the effects of a soft economy due to low oil prices. This year, ticket sales for the four-day event are down 10 to 15 per cent from last year.

“There have been years where by this time we were already sold out of at least one or two days, and this year we have some tickets left for all days,” said Folk Fest organizer Kerry Clarke.

Because of the economic downturn, some of Folk Fest’s loyal sponsors have either pulled out or reduced their sponsorship budget, putting a lot more pressure on the festival’s budget.

Starting on Thursday, more than 70 artists from across the world will perform on eight stages at Prince’s Island Park. Tickets will also be available at the gates.

“We’re still strong. We’re still selling lots of tickets every day and we still have some loyal sponsors, but definitely it’s a bit of a tough year,” said Clarke.

With mounting layoffs and oil prices down to $50 per barrel,  more people are cutting back on spending.

But not all festivals have been affected negatively: the Calgary Fringe Festival has actually seen ticket sales go up.

“We surveyed patrons as to what made them come to Fringe,” explained event organizer Michelle Gallant. “One of the comments was, ‘You guys are a fairly great inexpensive alternative, because we don’t have the resources to go elsewhere right now, we want to kind of watch our pennies.’” 

Ticket sales for this year’s Fringe Fest are up by two per cent. Prices start at $10.

“We experience a lot of our patrons that go to the Calgary Folk Fest also come to Calgary Fringe as well. I know between the two organizations we do a lot of cross-market promotions,” said Gallant.

Fringe Fest will start the weekend after Folk Fest, running from July 31 to August 8.