In Norse mythology, Valhalla is an eternal paradise reserved for fallen Vikings during times of battle – and that’s exactly what organizers of a new music festival in northern B.C. want it to feel like.
“No matter what battle you’re fighting, all warriors are welcome in Valhalla,” said Erinn McPherson, one of the organizers for the festival. “Not all battles are physical, some are unseen, and we want everybody to take a step back from their battle and just relax and be themselves.”
ValhallaFest is a three-day, family-friendly music extravaganza held at the Lower Shames Estate along the Zymacord River, just outside of Terrace, from June 22 to June 24. The grounds span over 75-acres of land set in the midst of an old-growth forest, where festival-goers can take in displayed artwork or dance to live electronic music until 4 a.m. For campers who want a quieter space away from the 9,000 watt sound system, there are sleeping options available 300-metres away from the main stage.
“What we think is that it’ll be our northern rainforest version of Shambhala or Kispiox, so very artistic with electronic music,” said Ray Pedersen, site owner for the festival.
Work on ValhallaFest began on a cold, snowy night in November 2017 inside a log cabin, where Pedersen, McPherson and Issa Ullman, their resident builder, joined together and brainstormed ideas. Since then, the concept has snowballed into a music festival with 23 electronic dance music (EDM) artists and an expected crowd of 500 people, managed by a team of 60 volunteers.
“We’re not looking to make money, we’re not looking to make a loss, if we can break even, we’re happy,” Pedersen said. “But we’re just most excited to be doing this, it’s really a bucket list thing for a bunch of us.”
EDM artists are coming in from all over the province and internationally, including Terrace, Smithers, Prince Rupert, Prince George, Vancouver and California to play over the weekend.
Next to the main stage will be an open marketplace, where food trucks, vendors and artisans will be stationed. Meditation classes will be hosted every morning, along with other classroom type events including belly dancing, art classes, and traditional yoga.
Spare wood from some of the old-growth trees that were felled during the clearing process will be stacked in the shape of an immense, mythical tree called Yggdrasil that is believed to connect the nine realms in Norse mythology. If things go as planned on Saturday night, a Viking funeral pyre will be set up as a ceremonial burning of the bridge, symbolizing the release of old emotions and influences.
“We’re really inspired by events that allow people to let go of their emotions and their past and things that have been holding them back by burning small trinkets or pictures or messages that they need to get out of their body, and just kind of let go and let live,” McPherson said.
Participants are also invited to bring pieces of art with them to ValhallaFest, where artists will have the chance to display their work as part of the festival’s overall vibe. One of the highlights, according to McPherson, is an eight-foot by eight-foot NiteBrite display next to the first aid cabin, where nostalgia-driven concertgoers can create masterpieces of their own using illuminated, coloured plastic pegs.
“We’d really like to have something with a lot of art, a lot of music and a lot of participation so everyone leaves feeling like they’ve created this gorgeous society where everyone is really welcoming and happy,” she said.
“It’s just a really very relaxing time because it can be stressful in the North… there are a lot of bears up here, you know? Constant stress levels. But it would be nice to have a three-day weekend that just continues to grow and everyone can just leave feeling like, ‘That was amazing, I learned so much.’”
Tickets cost $50 for the weekend and $40 for car passes, which can be purchased online or at the gate. Doors open at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 21 for people who want to set up camp, with music starting on Friday, June 22 at 3 p.m.