The 2014 Pemberton Music Festival will feature five to six stages, including one dedicated to comedy, HUKA Entertainment's A.J. Niland said during the event's surprise launch party on Wednesday night.
Five years after concert promoter Live Nation brought top-name headliners like Tom Petty, Jay Z and Coldplay to the valley, New Orleans-based HUKA announced Wednesday that it would be resurrecting the festival. It's slated to take place from July 18 to 20, 2014 with an initial batch of tickets on sale Sept. 27.
"Pemberton Valley is unrivaled as a music festival site," says Niland in a release. "Its spectacular location aligns perfectly with HUKA's philosophy of producing world-class events in unique settings."
HUKA held the launch party at the Pemberton Golf Course Wednesday night for the public after a media event that included a helicopter tour of their expanded concert site. Around 500 people attended a surprise show by Halifax electro-pop musician Rich Aucoin, who played half a set of songs by French electronic duo Daft Punk. Comedy crew The Trailer Park Boys also appeared via a video message to say they would be attending the festival next summer.
The company — which will host the event in conjunction with land partners Sunstone Group and the Lil'wat Nation — says the lineup won't be released until January, but adds it will be similar to that of the Hangout Festival, which they put on in Gulf Shores, Alabama, last May. That festival featured eclectic acts ranging from Stevie Wonder to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Bassnectar. "We cater to the iPod generation where playlists, not genres, dominate listening habits," says Niland. "Our vision for Pemberton Music Festival includes a wide spectrum of rock, indie, hip-hop, EDM, and more, anchored by top-level headliners."
In an interview Wednesday morning, Niland says his company was looking for a unique festival site in the Pacific Northwest when he was approached by local stakeholders with the Pemberton site, at the base of Mt. Currie. "I wasn't familiar with the (festival in) '08, but I did my research and saw the challenges," he says. "Once we determined we could solve all those problems we decided to move forward with the plans."
Niland brought a large crew of engineers, production and security people to do a "sanity check" and assess the site. "The first time that I have ever been north of Vancouver was about a year ago," he says. "As you leave North Vancouver it's one of the most beautiful drives you've ever seen. The closer we got to Whistler and Pemberton, I was blown away... When we drove up to Mt. Currie my jaw was on the floor. It's really unique to have a valley floor that flat and that large with those peaks. There was a tremendous amount of desire at that moment to make it work."
HUKA also intends to make the event annual and build it up to rival some of the best-known summer music festivals. "We want to make this an international festival," he says. "The site, the beauty and the lineup will hopefully dictate that. We're working very hard on delivering the lineup... We think after a few years we can achieve that. We really want this to be a beacon and a showcase for the area. This is an annual thing. We want to come year, after year, after year."