Organizers of London’s premier international music festival are grappling with travel issues with musicians as Toronto Pearson Airport faces delays, cancellations and baggage issues.
In the coming days, about 20 musical groups from countries such as Spain, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, South Korea, and France will arrive at Sanfest on international flights. Most travel through Pearson.
Sunfest starts on Thursday at Victoria Park and lasts all weekend.
“Flight, baggage and visa issues, I mean, it’s very nerve-wracking – and it’s a logistical puzzle, a puzzle that we hope we can get the most out of,” said Mercedes Kakai, Artistic Co-Director of Four-Day festival.
Sunfest takes care of all the musician’s logistics, from booking airline tickets, transfers by airbus, and ending with hotel reservations.
“We just crossed our fingers and toes, hoping for the best,” Kakaj said.
Several groups have yet to receive visas due to paperwork delays, including La Mambanegra from Colombia and DakhaBrakha from Ukraine, Chaksay said.
“We have seen these problems in the past,” she said. “We always have hope almost until yesterday.”
Caxaj has been Artistic Co-Director for ten years and has been a volunteer since the age of eight. She shares this title with her father, Alfredo Caxai, who founded Sunfest.
“There is nothing that could make us more excited to be back this week and start bringing Londoners and out-of-towners together to celebrate life with amazing music from around the world,” she said.
The festival will bring together over 40 bands from across Canada and around the world on five different stages. About 200 vendors will have food and handicrafts from all over the world. This is the first personal Sunfest in three years.
“The Music Will Go On”
“Indeed, there is something for everyone,” Kakaj said. “This year will be a “positive, welcoming, inclusive environment where people can come back and just be outside and together again.”
Brazilian band Francisco El Hombre is “a super high energy band that will shake people to the core,” she said. The band combines traditional Brazilian and Afro-Latin American music with psychedelic rock and electro-punk.
NST & The Soul Sauce meets Kim Yulhee, who has a sound that “people just don’t expect,” she said. The South Korean group combines reggae roots with traditional Korean singing.
The Eagle Flight Singers, the traditional first national band from London, will open the festival on Thursday and Friday nights.
“Without them, there would be no Sanfest. Opening our festival with them every year is something we really cherish,” she said. “Once this drum starts beating, people will be very excited and really feel the beginning of the festival.”
Regardless of the problems with the trips, the organizers are confident that everything will work out.
“I think all Londoners are just excited to be able to celebrate and be outdoors, drink their favorite drink, eat their favorite food, be in the sun, dance to live music,” Chaksay said.
“No matter what happens, the music will go on.”