Festivals are making a triumphant return to the Forest City: Here is what’s happening this weekend

Crowds packed Harris Park in London, Ont., for the Rock the Park Music Festival in 2017. Global News

Festival season is in full swing, with the city of London, Ont., getting into one of the busiest weekends of the season.

Londoners will have choices when they look at what to do this weekend, with Home County Music and Art Festival, Muslim Fest, Rock the Park and several other events.

Tourism London director of culture and entertainment tourism Natalie Wakabayashi said it’s wonderful to see everything getting back to normal.

Wakabayashi said that she was at Rock the Park the last couple of nights, and that it was great “to hear people say that they’re just so happy to be out doing this again.”

She said the return is also great for the local economy, with people staying overnight in hotels and visiting restaurants downtown.

“There certainly is a strong economic benefit. There’s also just a tremendous social benefit to our community for people to feel alive, for people to feel as though their community gives them events or festivals that they relate to,” she said.

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“They’re more likely to be proud of where they live and want to invite others to come and visit them.”

Muslim Fest is happening this weekend from noon to 9 p.m. on Sunday with music, a carnival, and food. Admittance to the event is free, with people just needing to register online.

Rock the Park Rock the Park, which kicked off Wednesday night is back in Harris Park with performances all weekend long until Sunday.

Friday, July 15 — TLC, Aqua, Ja Rule, DMC of Run DMC, Jenny Berggren of Ace of Base, 112, and 2 LIVE CREW for the festival’s retro night.

Sunday, July 17 — Twelve-time Grammy nominee Dierks Bently, fellow Grammy nominee Ashley McBryde, The Recklaws, and Breland.

Shifting the music gears on Saturday, Rock the Park is also set to debut FizzFest, where crowds can buy tickets and sample beers, wines, ciders, seltzers, and premixed cocktails while still hearing live performances from artists such Alyssa Reid and Virgina to Vegas.

Home County Music and Art Festival

Other music events this weekend include the Home County Music and Art Festival in Victoria Park.

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Starting at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, people can listen to performers on the main stage and hear music at other stages throughout the weekend on Saturday and Sunday.

“In the afternoon, we have a north concert stage, we have two workshop stages, we have a stage in our craft beer garden that is going to be operated by London Brewing, and we also have an open stage where people can go and sign up for a 15-minute time slot and get an opportunity to play for a public audience,” said Darin Addison, festival manager.

Addison said some of the headliners include Mélisande on Friday night, Emm Gryner on Saturday, and William Prince on Sunday. A full list of performers and times is available on the home county website.

Overall, Addison said they will have 14 performances on the main stage and then another 20 on the other stages.

There will be 80 or more craft vendors and 25 food vendors for people to also enjoy.

“The festival started in 1974 as the Hometown Folk Festival, and we rebranded in 2012 as the Home County Music Festival, (to)  express the continuation or the evolution of folk music and the festival itself going beyond those borders of folk music,” Addison said.

Pride Festivals

From July 14 to 24, Pride London is putting on the Together Again Pride Festival in London.

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On Friday, there will be a Pride Shabbat Dinner at the London Jewish Community Centre and The Big Laugh, a comedy show at the Rec Room featuring comedian Al Val.

Other events this weekend include Pride Swim on Saturday at the Boys and Girls Club of London and live music on Sunday as part of Sunday Morning Joy: Pride Edition at Aeolian Hall. A full list of events can be found on the Pride London website.

Pride’s biggest festivities will come next weekend as more than a dozen live performers take to the stage in Victoria Park, including headliners Justin Maki Band and Sir Elton’s Greatest on July 22, and Priyanka on July 23.

On July 24, the highly anticipated return of the 26th Annual London Pride Parade will wind through downtown London and the Old East Village.

Strathroy is hosting its first in-person pride festival this weekend, with Strathroy Pride in the Park starting at Strathroy Rotary Splash Pad, at 280 Caradoc St. N.

The event is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. with the Pride Flag raising at the town hall and then events in the park from 12 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

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Colombian Gastronomy Festival

If you are still hungry after hitting up all the other festivals, the Colombian Gastronomy Festival is happening Saturday and Sunday Outside Covent Garden Market.

It runs Saturday, from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday, from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m., in Market Square.

The festival will feature authentic Colombian food with a unique flavour of Latin Music and alcohol.

— With files from Global News’ Matthew Trevithick and Amy Simon

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