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Grand Oasis offers free concerts of all genres

A set of free shows is meant to celebrate art, music and culture at Grand Parade
USED 101320 - Halifax City Hall - Grand Parade - IMG_7770
Halifax City Hall/Grand Parade

Halifax is readying a summer of diverse musical stylings that will delight residents and tourists alike.

A set of free shows – dubbed the Grand Oasis Concert Series – is meant to celebrate art, music and culture at Grand Parade in downtown Halifax. For municipal staffer Billy Comer, the June 21 to October 1 festival will be a huge celebration.

“This is a project we created in the Culture and Events department. We saw the need after the last two years to do summer events and get people out,” said Comer, the senior special events coordinator with HRM’s Parks and Recreation department.

“With cases beginning to dwindle, it was just something we wanted to do locally. Momentum is building, and we wanted to have a cultural impact. This could be a big thing for tourism.”

The scale and scope of the event is larger than normal for free concerts, and the city staff are excited to put it forward.

“We have local and emerging talent, and they’re surrounded by headliners. We just want to bring people back together,” he said.

“Events were the first to go and last to return, and it was scary. People want to gather, and it’s nice to see.”

Between Natal Day, Canada Day, New Years Eve and other events, the municipality loves to celebrate. They’re hoping these events will encourage a bit of downtown spending.

“The downtown was hit hard during COVID-19, and having free concerts means people aren’t paying ticket fees. Maybe no people can go get dinner, shop locally and get merch and clothing in the area. This is 15 weeks, 40 events and over 100 artists,” he said.

The eclectic array of music is something to behold, and includes DJ Shub War Club, Alan Doyle, Neon Dreams, Classified, Jah’Mila, Aquakulture, and a plethora of BIPOC and Indigenous artists.

“We have our East Coast classics, but we’re stepping outside the box too. We are doing new genres. People are used to fiddles and bagpipes, but we also have electronic music, hip hop, and so much more,” he said.

“There’s an Emancipation Day event, the annual Hopscotch Festival, and a Pride event. There are so many ways to celebrate. We are excited to have amazing artists and events for everyone.”

With a wheelchair-friendly space and free events, the municipality is keeping things physically and financially accessible.

“It’s something that’s always top-of-mind. We make sure our portapotties are the size and scope that allow for accessibility, there’s flat ground, and we have five entries and exits. The free-to-low cost events are also huge for our mandate and vision,” he said.

While events are free, there is also the option of a guaranteed free pass. This reserves your spot in case capacity is reached.

“If we enter another wave, it helps us logistically to keep numbers where they should be. We can also make plans for people counts, analyze and prepare properly for events,” said Comer.

“It also gives us a chance to email eventgoers in case of changes, and keep people entirely engaged.”

The events will all happen at Grand Parade – with even more coming for a re-opening concert – and the location is right at the heart of the city.

“We haven’t had major events for this long a stretch in that space before. This shows that the city is ready for these wonderful tourism aspects. People can stay in hotels and pass through Grand Parade. Even if they didn’t know a concert would be there, they may want to stay,” he said.

“There’s so much going on with this, and it could be a great time for people. We hope people enjoy the city and visit things right around that area.”

The belief is that while there will be some vendors around the site, the event organizers mostly want to get people to explore the city and restaurants again.

“Whether it’s shopping or visiting places like Freak Lunchbox, Yeah Yeahs or Mary’s African Cuisine, there are things everywhere to try,” he said. “These places have been affected by the pandemic, and we hope people will plan a night and get all over the city.”

More information on all the events can be found online.


About the Author: Jordan Parker

Jordan Parker is a freelance journalist and runs entertainment firm Parker PR. He's been a movie nerd since he was old enough to walk.
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