Canal Street is a remarkable music festival held in Arendal, Norway where history, music and culture are celebrated in a distinct manner.
Started in 1996 as Arendal Jazz and Blues Festival, this event is held every year that is indeed a treat to the music lovers out there. The festival’s uniqueness lies in its unusual, breathtaking venues; they are chosen to make the environment seamlessly blend with the jazz and blues, apart from rock and world music. The strategy here is to celebrate international and Norwegian jazz together with the new and unknown. Along with top Norwegian artists, the festival has featured notable names such as Bob Geldof, Joss Stone, Waterboys, Solomon Burke, Angélique Kidjo and many more on its stage.
Mats Aronsen is the founder and general manager of Canal Street. We had the chance to ask him some questions about this amazing festival in northern Europe. Mats, can you tell us a bit about what you do at Canal Street?
Well, I do almost everything – from the booking of bands and programming the festival, contact with the sponsors, volunteers, and group leaders, and more back office things like economy and reporting to the board etc.
What goes into designing a festival like Canal Street?
It’s all about designing the totality of the festival and the experiences for the audience – the venues, the music, – and what kind of competences we need, the volunteer structure and such.
Tell us more about the festival (Location, Vision, History)?
The festival is 22 years old, originally based in jazz and blues music, and has evolved into a broad music and culture festival for children, young and grown-up people. Most of the venues are outdoors, in many beautiful and quite special places like an island, the churchyard, the harbour, and the town square. Arendal is a beautiful seaside town of approximately 45 000 inhabitants, and of course many tourists, – and the festival kind of blends in with the town and surroundings in a nice way. It’s a very gentle and exciting cultural happening.
How do you get to Arendal, Norway and join this music festival?
Well, you can come here by ferry boat from Denmark (Hirtshals) to Kristiansand and then take a bus or drive by car to Arendal (1 hour), or by flights to the Kjevik airport (Kristansand) and then by bus.
If you could book your dream line up. Who would be the three headliners?
Carlos Santana, Neil Young, and the new Norwegian act Sigrid.
What do you think a perfect festival needs?
Good music, nice people, and beautiful and unique venues. We have it all!
Tell us more about the parade during Canal Street?
It’s a fantastic musical and happiness event with hundreds of musicians and thousands of people watching and walking along from the town square to the harbour.
When is next years festival and when do recommend people to buy tickets?
It’s four days from 24th to 27th of July. I would recommend buying tickets as soon as you have decided to come!