WayHome 2016 will deliver an immersive artistic experience like no other

Sponsored feature: presented by WayHome Festival

WAYHOME FESTIVAL at Burl’s Creek Event Grounds. LCD Soundsystem, Arcade Fire, The Killers, Major Lazer M83, Chvrches, Metric and many more. July 22-24, 2016. Tickets from $249.99 to $599.99 at wayhome.comSee listing

Music festival fans, you are spoiled for options this summer. For those considering WayHome Festival – an event we described as “spectacular” in our 2015 Music Festival Report Card – you’ll find few experiences that are as immersive and community-focused as these three days at Burl’s Creek Event Grounds near Barrie. 

With its eclectic lineup, gourmet food, artist installations and VIP add-ons, WayHome easily distinguished itself from the rest of the fests in its first year and took home Best New Festival at CMW this past weekend. And then there’s the location: camping in Oro-Medonte, near Barrie, ON, is unlike anything you’ve experienced in just a one-hour drive from Toronto.

“You come to Burl’s Creek and you feel like you’re at a national park,” says Laura Kennedy, senior director of PR at Republic Live. After settling into their campsites attendees walking towards the entertainment space first encounter the massive Angus Watt flags welcoming everyone to the festival grounds. The sense of anticipation starts to churn way before the first band appears.

As with last year, there will be four stages: WayHome (main stage), WayBright (sunset views), WayBold (dance party) and WayAway (forest stage). Kennedy explains that the stages aren’t genre-specific. It’s an intentional choice to allow festival-goers to open up to new performers and sounds, whether it’s X Ambassadors or Coleman Hell. 

At WayHome 2015, approximately 90 per cent of ticket holders camped out for the full three days. “People really embraced the camping experience,” Kennedy says. This year, the festival decided to kick things up a notch through camper-friendly options for first time campers.

Kennedy explains that, with the WayCamp package, people who don’t have their own camping gear will have the option of showing up with only their overnight bag and cooler. The festival takes care of the rest and will set up a branded WayHome tent, two sleeping bags and mattresses, pillows and more all before you arrive. You also get to keep the gear afterwards.

Then there’s the new site-wide cashless payment system. Your wristband will function as your festival debit card, and you can add money to it at any of the refill stations, which accept credit cards, Interac and cash. That will likely impact the time it takes for lineups to clear (no more fumbling for cash or waiting for change!).

Between daylong musical feasts, most will spend time enjoying the food stands – butter chicken poutine, anyone? – or visiting the on-site farmers’ market. Thankfully, a weekend at WayHome doesn’t mean bingeing on hot dogs. If you’re committed to beauty bars, massages and front-of-stage access though, you should check out the VIP experience, which comes with a special food and drink menu curated by The Drake.

The big question this year will be whether WayHome2016 can recapture the same you-had-to-be-there positive vibe that made last summer such a special experience. Kennedy is confident that festival-goers will again create a unique atmosphere unlike anything else. 

“When you go to a festival like this,” she says, “people are really open to forging new bonds.” The key to forging those new bonds is sharing an inspiring creative experience, whether it’s seeing FKA twigs perform or taking in the festival artwork curated by WayHome creative director Ryan Howes.

“You might take a picture with your phone, but being present there in the moment, that really bonds people together,” Kennedy says. “And that once-in-a-lifetime experience is something we’re trying to create.”

WayHome’s fan-friendly approach and innovations this year help cut down on the time you spend waiting to experience what you came for – great music, creative inspiration and making new connections.  

Check out NOW’s WayHome 2016 preview for more info and review some critical survival strategies we posted last year (and will be swearing by again this summer). We hope to see you there!

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