Established in 2009, River & Sky is a nature-first music and camping festival. Founded by Sudbury residents Peter Zwarich and Lara Bradley, the festival emerged from their house concerts as a way to give back to the musical community at-large. The event moved to its current location at the Fishers' Paradise Camping and Outdoor Event Facility located on the Sturgeon River, near Sudbury and North Bay, for the 2012 edition, having previously taken place at the River Valley Bluegrass Jamboree grounds on the banks of the Temagami River for its first two years followed by one year at the Granite Ridge Wilderness Campground in Kearney.
The festival’s location is a large part of its charm, as attendees are encouraged to fully embrace the natural landscape. Unlike many other festivals, bikes, canoes and dogs are permitted on festival grounds, giving attendees many options to explore the grounds, and to let their furry companions in on the fun. The Beach Stage takes place on the bank of the Sturgeon River itself, letting festival-goers listen to music while taking a dip. The Beach Stage also features saunas made from hollowed-out RVs.
River & Sky features music all day long, from morning performances at the Coffeehouse stage to afternoons at the Beach Stage and evenings at the Main Stage concluding in late-night parties at the Beach Stage that last until morning. Past performers include a veritable who’s who of Canadian rock bands, including PUP, METZ, The Sadies, Weaves, Born Ruffians and Land of Talk.
River & Sky is strongly community-minded. It offers plenty of food, arts and crafts by nearby vendors, and the festival is filled with workshops for anything from hula hooping to stargazing. River and Sky is also committed to sustainability and environmentalism — the festival switched to reusable/washable dishware in 2017 and banned plastic straws for the 2018 edition. The festival doesn’t sell plastic water bottles (free water is available to keep attendees hydrated) or have plastic banners anywhere. The not-for-profit organization is volunteer-driven, always looking for volunteers to help organize the festival as well as host other events and fundraisers throughout the year, such as February 2018's aptly-named winter festival, Shiver & Sky.