About 100,000 people take in the return of Sunfest in London, Ont.

This weekend marked the first in-person Sunfest since 2019. via TD Sunfest Canada / Facebook

Another summer festival come and gone as London, Ont., welcomed the in-person return of the city’s premier Sunfest over the weekend.

The event. which hit the stage with live performances for the first time since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, drew a crowd of approximately 100,000 unique visitors from Thursday to Sunday.

“It really has been an explosion of happiness here in Victoria Park,” said Alfredo Caxaj, executive and co-artistic director of Sunfest.

“I think everyone was just so looking forward to this to happen after two years of not being able to do it in person. So, the numbers have been absolutely amazing.”

The four-day “celebration of life” marked a first since London was declared Canada’s first UNESCO city of music in 2021.

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In crossing another major milestone, Sunfest presented more than 40 local, national and international groups for the first time in its history.

Caxaj said it was “truly an incredible accomplishment based on the circumstances that we’ve been facing.”

While audiences were able to physically gather together, other hurdles inflicted by the pandemic still appeared for organizers in preparing for the festival.

According to Caxaj, air travel proved to be one of the largest challenges as international performers struggled with the same issues seen across Canadian airports and airlines.

But even while the lineup for the festival saw some last-minute changes amid cancelled flights and delays, Caxaj said that he couldn’t be more delighted with how the city celebrated the 28th Sunfest.

“This is truly the beginning of a new age,” he said.

“Hopefully, humanity has learned a lot of things here in these difficult years. … But we’re extremely delighted that we’re bringing happiness again to the community. that we brought the whole community together to celebrate culture [and] diversity in the most upbeat and friendly environment.”

— with files from Global News’ Kelly Wang and Andrew Graham


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