Whitehorse’s Frostbite Music Festival returns

After a two-year absence, Whitehorse's Frostbite Music Festival is back. The festival, which was once a winter staple in the Yukon, will be rocking once again from Feb. 12 to 14 at Yukon College.

After a two-year absence, Whitehorse’s Frostbite Music Festival is back.

The festival, which was once a winter staple in the Yukon, will be rocking once again from Feb. 12 to 14 at Yukon College.

“We needed to keep it simple yet put something out for the public,” said Frostbite’s president Chani Fleshman.

“We didn’t want to go another year without our favourite festival.”

Frostbite has been part of Yukon winters since 1979.

In late 2013 the former board called off the 2014 event, citing financial woes and capacity issues.

It wasn’t long before a new group of folks took up the mantle.

Plans for a resurrection started in the fall of 2014 after a letter appeared in one of the newspapers calling on the community to save the festival, Fleshman said.

It grew from there with “a solid but small” volunteer base.

It’s that dedicated base and support from the community that she credits with keeping things moving forward.

The amount of paperwork involved in getting the society back up and running meant there was no time for a 2015 festival, Fleshman said.

But now things are ready to go.

Previous incarnations of Frostbite have been major multiple-stage affairs. Sarah McLachlan, k.d. lang and Ani DiFranco are among Frostbite’s alumni.

This year’s version is much smaller, with only one stage and a lineup of entirely local acts.

“They are all 100 per cent local. We haven’t brought any Outside acts in due to funding constraints and the fact that we, as Frostbite, felt that we needed to really focus on the local talent that we have right here at home,” Fleshman said.

It’s a way for the festival to go back to its roots, she said, when the shows were more focused on local acts.

The 2016 lineup includes Ukes Of Hazard, The Salty Dawgs, Midnight Sons, Soul Migration, the Dakhka Khwaan Dancers, Patrick Jacobson Band, Brandon Isaak, Roxx Hunter, Speed Control and Major Funk and the Employment.

Nicole Edwards and the Puppet Affair will be headlining the KidsFest events on Sunday afternoon.

The board is working with a tighter budget too. As of today it hasn’t received any government grants. An application to the Yukon’s Arts Fund is in progress, but they haven’t heard back yet, she said.

Instead organizers have been getting support from local businesses. They’ve partnered with Yukon College’s student union to provide the venue.

Fleshman calls herself a “Frostbite child,” having grown up volunteering at the festival. She said she didn’t want to see it come to an end the way it had.

All the people putting energy towards the event are doing it because they care about the festival, she said.

“We all have families ourselves, so wanted to share that community spirit and the idea of working for something,” she said.

“Not every time you work you get money… I want my children to be able to experience the good things you get from working for free.”

The event’s website is back up and running at www.frostbitemusicsociety.com. Anyone interesting in volunteering at the festival can get more information there.

Tickets for Friday and Saturday nights can be bought together in advance for $50. Otherwise they will be sold for $30 a night at the door.

Advance tickets are being sold by the Yukon Arts Centre and Arts Underground, or on the Frostbite website.

Tickets for Sunday’s kids event cost $10 a family and will only be sold at the door.

Contact Ashley Joannou at


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