About This Festival
The eight-thousand foot Mount Currie serves as the backdrop of this five-day affair, with contemporary artists across a wide range of genres—from rock and indie to hip hop, EDM and alternative—providing the soundtrack to this outdoorsy festival. Initially held in 2008, Pemberton has had somewhat of a spotty history, with organizers canceling the event in both 2009 and 2010, and no event in 2011-2013. In 2014, new organizers from Huka Entertainment took the helm and reintroduced the festival gem to the North American festival circuit, where it was received with open arms.
Drawing in roughly 30,000 music-lovers, Pemberton’s return last summer was by all accounts a rollicking success—and one look at the 90-act lineup will give you a strong idea as to why. Past headliners include The Black Keys, Tiesto, Hozier, Nine Inch Nails, Outkast, Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, Modest Mouse, Snoop Dogg, and Soundgarden. Other acts could’ve easily served as headliners at any number of other festivals, with St. Vincent, Blondie, Best Coast, Rebelution, and the Flaming Lips gracing the festival’s five stages. The entertainment doesn’t stop with just music though; comedy acts including Lisa Lampanelli and crowd-favorite Bob Saget also performed alongside others.
Ultimately, the thing that makes Pemberton really special is the setting; even without the music, a trip to this area would be worth it just for the scenery. Mount Currie is the northernmost summit of the Garibaldi Mountain Range and is one of the peaks visible from the Whistler-Blackcomb ski area, southwest of the festival site. It’s also part of the historic Mount Currie First Nation Reserve, which is home of the Lil’wat First Nation. In any case, it’s a truly unbeatable backdrop to the stellar musical lineup.
While camping in such a beautiful and scenic setting is a major draw for some people, it’s not required to attend the festival. A shuttle between the nearby town of Whistler and Pemberton runs for daily ticket holders, so staying in rented accommodation or a hotel nearby is also an option. However, for those that do want to camp, there are several levels of accommodation, from basic and VIP camping areas with air conditioned bathrooms to areas reserved for those who have their own RV. However, car camping is not permitted, so come prepared to haul your gear from the parking area to where you’ll be camping. There were some complaints that this distance was too far last year, and reports that the terrain was too difficult to pass while carrying gear. However, festival organizers say that though they can’t shorten the walk itself, they have made improvements to the road surfaces and have increased transportation options to assist with carrying camping gear to and from your car. In reality though, it’s a small price to pay to feel like you’re in the middle of pristine wilderness.
There’s a full lineup of food and drink as well, including unlimited water and ice for use by ticket holders. It seems clear that Pemberton Music Festival has officially staked out its reputation for being one of the most unique and outdoorsy summer festival experiences in Canada, despite its short and somewhat fractured history.