What to Bring to Sled Island.

Forget Stampede. Sled Island, the raucous music, film and comedy festival that takes over Calgary‘s venues for four days over the end of July, is the party of the year. Genres include Heavy Van Reekum-esque and Reverb-drenched Space Pop, but don’t let that put you off, this festival is electric.

For Canada’s very own version of South by South West, here’s what to bring:

1. Bicycle

Hipster with bike

Bikes are the new organic, free-range carrots, and they’re the only way the kids of Calgary get around the city nowadays, especially when Sled Island comes to town. With the festival’s venues spread across the downtown area, taxi and train fares add up fast, and those boulevards are so long you might develop calve muscles traversing them, and then how will your skinny jeans fit?

Here’s what to do, go to the Good Life Community Bikeshop in the Kensington area; the store is on 148 10th Street NW (http://www.goodlifebikes.ca/). They re-condition bikes especially for Sled Island, and you can rent one for $10 a day.

If you’re hanging around Calgary after the festival, join in with the ten-day Cycle Palooza. The Palooza initiative comes straight out of Portland, and it’s where the city’s hippest bike enthusiasts get dressed up and cycle round the town and generally have loads of community-minded fun, and it’s free! Everyone is welcome, and P.S. your old prom outfit might come in handy.

2. Hipflask

The hipflask is for sippin’ from behind a dumpster while you wait for a venue line to go down, because sadly there ain’t no public drinking allowed on Cowtown’s streets.

3. Anorak

20090124 - Clint's 35th Birthday Party - cake ...
20090124 – Clint’s 35th Birthday Party – cake – Tabbitha’s Kenny Cake – (Photo credit: Rev. Xanatos Satanicos Bombasticos (ClintJCL))

Anoraks are super smart and sensible, everyone knows that. It’s particularly useful for Sled Island, because it will rain. It just will.

As for the rest of your outfit, good luck figuring out something eclectic enough to fit in at all the venues you’ll inevitably drift to over the course of a night. From The Grand theater, all cocktails and high heels, to dirty hipster pool parties in suburban backyards, it’s difficult to know what will fit in. I can only recommend getting so drunk you don’t care about what you wear.

4. Someone who actually knows the Canadian music scene

Being Scottish, the Canadian indie scene was lost on me. Reading through the playlist, I’d only heard of Feist.

‘Cute! The girl with the 500 Days of Summer song!’ I said to my Calgary travel buddy.

‘Dude, she like toured with Peaches. You know, Peaches?’ He asked, incredulously.

I shook my head like a dope.

‘God, you’re so uncool’, he shook his head.

5. Love of a moshpit

Andrew WK
Andrew WK (Photo credit: squidpants)

Canadians ride the dancing wave. If the crowd is dancing, it’s going to be wild. If it looks quiet, it will probably stay that way. If that’s the case, create the wave yourself!

Second rule is, if the self-proclaimed party master Andrew WK is playing, there will be a dance wave. It will be big, and there will be sweat. A lot of sweat, and a lot of burly guys. So, sharpen up your elbows before you leave the house and get ready to mosh bro.

6. Afterparties

Calgary’s clubs and pubs close at 2am, even on the weekend. Whatever! Hit the road on your bike, grab some Poutine from The Big Cheese on 738 17 Avenue SW, and head to the closest house party. People are pretty open and friendly in Calgary, so make friends with some locals at one of the venues, and invite yourself along to their party.

Pedal safe, my friends!

Tickets are about $200 for a four-day pass, and you can get lots more info and lovely pics at www.sledisland.com.

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