Arkells headlining AltiTunes festival at Big White in April

Tunes returning to Big White

One of Canada's biggest bands is coming to Big White in April 2.

After COVID-19 forced organizers to scrap their plans for a live Arkells concert at Big White in the spring of 2020, AltiTunes is now set to debut next spring, with the Arkells once again topping the bill.

Organizers Mitch Carefoot and Kury Jory were forced to pull the plug for their 2020 event, when the COVID restrictions were put in place in March 2020 that restricted events to 50 people or less.

But in October of this year, the pair successfully hosted Denim on the Diamond – a downtown Kelowna one-night festival attended by more than 3,600 people – and the event's success inspired them to get AltiTunes up and running once more.

“We had a sold-out event of over 3,600 people, and it was safe, there was no issues, there was no health concerns, there was no tick-up [in cases] or anything like that,” Carefoot said. “So that's kind of given us a little bit of confidence to move forward.”

While the weeks leading up to Denim were a bit rocky for organizers, as Interior Health event restrictions changed, they were able to proceed as long as all the attendees of the outdoor event were double vaccinated for COVID-19. The same will be required for those attending AltiTunes.

“The Interior Health order also specifies and mandates that any events need to be double vaccinated,” Carefoot said. “So instead of us hoping that something changes by April, we're just coming out and abiding by the mandate that is in place right now.”

In addition to the multiple-Juno Award winners Arkells headlining the show, Ontario's Lights and Vernon's daysormay will be rounding out the entertainment during the night, while Kelowna's DJ Invisible will be spinning tracks throughout the day. The stage will be set up near Big White's skating rink in Happy Valley.

Carefoot says it's been important for them to get the arts and entertainment industry up and running again in the Okanagan, after close to two years of pandemic restrictions bringing the industry to halt.

“It would have just been way easier to just wait it out and do nothing at all, but I just don't think that's in our personality types,” he said. “We want to be kind of the leaders for the arts, culture and entertainment side of stuff and to prove to ourselves too.”

Carefoot said after the cancellation in 2020, the Arkells and their management team were very accommodating, and the band is excited to finally get to play up at Big White.

“Last time when they were coming up, a bunch of them were going to be staying for an extra couple days to ski and enjoy the mountain,” he said. “They were really excited when they heard we wanted to come back and do it again.”

Tickets for the show are on sale as of Thursday morning, at $79.

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