After festival cancellation, Sled Island opens up an arts-quenching Lemonade Stand

As the old saw goes: When life gives you a pandemic, you make a lemonade stand that doesn’t actually sell lemonade.

(It’s a thing. Look it up.)

That was what the good folks at Calgary’s beloved Sled Island chose to do when COVID killed their 2020 festival, which was already shaping up to be something of a scorcher. Instead of scrapping the entire June 22-28 alternative arts and culture event, they chose to pivot and embrace the social distancing space that left live events impossible to present.

Hence the Sled Island Lemonade Stand which will take place over that week. Organizers describe it in a release as “a series of free or accessibly-priced livestreams, film screenings, comedy and DJ sets and varied activities taking place both online and in-person.” 

They continue. “By no means a simple online or socially-distanced version of the festival we had previously planned, nor a replacement for it, the Lemonade Stand tries to reinforce the pillars of the Sled Island experience over the years: fun, discovery, community and the celebration of thoughtful and vital music and art.”

One of the holdovers from the original envisioned event is a virtual performance and Q&A by guest curator Sudan Archives.

Sled will also be releasing a pair of digital compilations, Lemonade Stand Vol. 1 & 2, featuring previously unreleased material from Calgary artists such as Astral Swans, Samantha Savage Smith, Chron Goblin, The Shiverettes and many others who have played the fest.

In that vein, they’re also promoting a livestream by Sled Island alum, Waxahatchee, who) will be performing her album Ivy Tripp in its entirety online the evening of Monday, June 22.

Also on the non-musical side of Sled, they’ll be holding Virtual Laugh-con 2020, which will feature streamed sets by Brandon Ash-Mohammed, Tallboyz, Meg MacKay and and Jackie Pirico.

And in keeping with their long history of community collaboration, Sled are also involved with and are sponsoring or co-presenting events with Calgary Underground Film Festival, CJSW and local craft brewers, with organizers encouraging others to support seven Calgary-area brewers including Annex Ale Project, Blindman Brewery, Dandy Brewing Company, Eighty-Eight Brewing Co., Highline Brewery, Inner City Brewing and Last Best Brewery.

For more information on The Sled Island Lemonade Stand and all of their various events and initiatives, please go to