Toronto’s new Venus Fest offers an alternative to male-dominated music festivals


This September, local musician Aerin Fogel hopes to follow in the footsteps of Lilith Fair and Ladyfest by launching Venus Fest.

A one-day festival on September 30 with a lineup and staff composed entirely of women, genderqueer and trans people, Venus Fest responds to the need Fogel sees for greater diversity in Toronto’s DIY scene.

The idea for the festival came in part from the positive experience Fogel has had putting together an all-woman-identified show with her band, Queen of Swords, at the Baby G this coming April 14. 

 “The feeling of connection and inspiration we’ve been sharing while preparing for the show is so unlike lineups I have played where I’m the only woman,” Fogel tells NOW. “I realized that waiting for things to happen felt hard, and doing it myself felt easier.”

Fogel is committing to diversity in Venus Fest’s organizing staff, and the festival’s lineup is being curated with careful consideration of racial and gender representation, as well as age.

“Most of the artists are from Ontario,” says Fogel, “so that ticket sales will go predominantly back into our local communities, with a couple of very exciting headliners from out of town.”

The venue, Daniels Spectrum in Regent Park, is wheelchair accessible, and food stands will accommodate a variety of dietary preferences. Meanwhile, tiered ticketing will help accommodate people with various income levels.

Applications for roles in the festival will be posted on the website and socials as they come available, and Fogel invites those interested in participating, especially women, genderqueer people and trans people, to reach out through social media or email.

“The strength of a community of talented and powerful friends gives me profound hope in a time when it is otherwise easy to feel hopeless in our political and global climate,” says Fogel. “Healing is possible, but it happens slowly. [At Venus Fest], we can celebrate the strength of our diverse and beautiful artistic community.” | @silkspectres



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