Over the past 28 years, Ness Creek Music Festival (NCMF) has garnered notoriety as being a “3,500-strong family reunion in the forest”. After experiencing this event firsthand I can affirm that this tagline is a spot-on summation of the weekend. To call NCMF merely a music festival is an understatement, to say the least. Although the eclectic lineup was filled with esoteric acclaim, the music is only one of many factors that contribute to the charm of Ness - the most distinct of which is the incredible community. I can’t tell you how many attendees told me that they had been coming to this festival with their family since they were infants. And even so, I felt nothing but inclusivity as a newcomer.
Ness Creek is a multi-use and multi-service facility nestled into the Boreal Forest Northeast of Big River, Saskatchewan. They accommodate bookings and camping rentals year round, but their main draw to the public is their four major festivals thrown annually - the biggest of which is NCMF. The area is incredibly scenic and has been developed in a way that is especially conducive to a free-spirited festival environment. All of the cabins and kiosks were very on-brand with the “woodstock” vibe of the weekend.
I was fortunate enough to collaborate with my friends at Paved to Pines, a camper-van conversion company based out of Prince Albert. They brought up an incredibly fitting repurposed Mercedes Sprinter that was parked in the village (in earshot of the mainstage) where I camped for the entirety of the weekend. The days were essentially a free-for-all. There were endless personal wellness workshops and a colourful marketplace that was accessible throughout the daytime hours. In the evenings' everyone gathered at the mainstage to see the headliners and if they were still riding the wave of the festivities they could migrate to the after-hours stage or a late-night drum circle that lasted until dawn.
On Saturday, everyone hopped on a shuttle that took us to a local beach where they had fashioned a unique floating stage cheekily dubbed “The Stage of Aquarius”. The audience relaxed on the shoreline or in a personal floatation device on the water and took in live music for hours. It was unlike anything I have ever seen before.
Throughout the weekend I established bonds with virtual strangers that I’ll likely never forget. One veteran of the event casually stated that “not everyone at Ness is always nice, but everyone is always nice at Ness”. There’s no better way of phrasing the essence of NCMF. Everyone is there for the same genuine reason - to temporarily disconnect from the outside world, to listen to good music and to enjoy each other’s company. What could be better?
To learn more about Ness Creek Music Festival go to:
To learn more about the Ness Creek Event Grounds go to:
To learn more about Paved to Pines go to