Don’t let the small-town feel fool you; this annual music extravaganza brings out the big stage, brilliant light show, and towering speakers. A celebration of rhythm & melodies, Kemptville Live attracts music lovers from all walks of life, travelling in from across Canada, the United States and even as far away as Europe and Oceania.
Once again, the festival will present world class headliners including blues sensation Colin James, legendary alt-country rockers Blue Rodeo, Grammy-winning rock icon Melissa Etheridge, and more. Plus, a full four-day, live music weekend famous for the friendliest volunteers, light-hearted spirit of fun, and equal opportunity to sit or stand, with the audience areas split down the middle.
Colin James kicks off this seventh edition of Kemptville Live, Thursday, July 20. James is no stranger to the event. He performed in its second year in 2016 and is back again this year to perform a full set of hits for blues fans at the packed venue. Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductees, Blue Rodeo take the stage on Friday night, Melissa Etheridge plays Saturday, July 22, and Harlequin wraps up the festival on Sunday night.
To satisfy your rave craves, you’ll find a large bar tent and variety of food vendors on site, including local favourite food tuck Fat Les’s Chip Stand. If you plan on camping, the Kemptville Live website will have all the information you need to plan and book your stay. Not a camper? Visit the local tourism website to find a range of accommodations from luxury hotels to cool and quirky Airbnbs.
How it all Started
Of course, an extravagant festival like this doesn’t appear without a vision, and a lot of hard work. Producing the festival was the dream of local Kemptville businessperson Bob Besharah. In the years before the first Kemptville Live, Besharah hosted one-day concerts in the backyard of his well-known guitar shop, Class Axe Guitars, on County Road 43 in Kemptville. The events grew and became a highly-anticipated community draw.
In the summer of 2014, Bob approached the staff of the Municipality of North Grenville (Kemptville) with his request for support for a major music event. He was greeted with a firm approval to start the planning process, and immediately, a core group of volunteers formed the organizing committee for the first Kemptville Live Music Festival. The committee jumped right into designing and implementing organizational structure, timelines and operations plans to ensure that all aspects of a safe and professional product were delivered to attendees, artists, and volunteers alike.
That first year drew just over 5,000 visitors to the area from as far away as Toronto, Montreal, North Bay and Syracuse. Attendance grew almost five times by 2019 with 24,000 visitors over the four days. Sadly, the pandemic forced folks to sing the blues in solitude in 2020 and 2021, but 2022 saw the return of the thrilling festival and people once again came out to small town Kemptville in droves.
A successful festival the size of Kemptville Live isn’t possible without a dedicated team of volunteers. That first festival operated with a strong group of 127 volunteers working in positions from admissions, to traffic, accessibility, information, and to bar services. In 2022, that number ballooned to 360 volunteers. These volunteers are the festival, and they’re ready to make 2023 bigger, better, and exciting.
Great music and the opportunity to help present a professional quality event that emanates a true pride in their community has brought together volunteers of all ages, all walks of life, and all physical abilities to form a team that has earned kudos from patrons, artists and community alike.
Whether you’re a devoted fan of rock, country, blues, or folk, this event promises an unforgettable experience filled with fantastic performances, vibrant atmosphere, and a sense of community like no other.
You can drive to Kemptville and greater North Grenville in 40 minutes or less from Brockville, Smiths Falls, or Ottawa, Canada’s capital city.
From Ottawa, travel south on Highway 416 and take exit 34. Head west to enter Kemptville.
Highway 416 links to the 401 in the south, making for a quick trip from Montreal, Toronto and points in between. Take exit 34 on Highway 416 to explore North Grenville.
Kemptville Live Music festival is a unique opportunity to experience world-class live music in your own backyard.
______________________ About Kemptville and Greater North Grenville
North Grenville offers visitors the ideal combination of rural and urban. The municipality is second only to Reykjavík, Iceland in greenspace per capita, offering an extensive trail network suitable for beginners and enthusiasts alike. The tranquil waters of Kemptville Creek, part of the UNESCO world heritage Rideau Waterway flows through downtown Kemptville, a padders dream for a day of scenic nature. Yet the municipality of 18,000 also has an abundance of excitement to extend to visitors: street festivals that open downtown Kemptville to pedestrians, such as Kemptville Buskerfest and Canada Day Celebrations; incredible shows like Kemptville Live; Poutine Fest and maple festivals that’ll make a foodie drool; and so much more, including live Thai fight competitions. Visit Kemptville and the hamlets of North Grenville for your next day trip, there is something perfect for everyone.