water music festivals

Toronto music festivals need more free water stations

As Mother Mother took the stage at the inaugural NXNE Festival in the Toronto Port Lands, many concertgoers might have been calling out for water, water.

Lauren Yee, 25, travelled from Waterloo to Toronto to attend the weekend-long concert. She was excited about the lineup, which included Father John Misty and Ghostface Killah. Since the forecast called for hot and sunny weather, some of her friends brought reusable water bottles along with them in order to stay hydrated.

"When you got inside, there were no water refill stations. So it was kind of like, what's the point of bringing reusable water bottles?" questions Yee. To keep safe, Yee estimates she spent $25 buying water from the on-site bars. While attendees were allowed to bring in sealed water bottles, many others weren't happy with the lack of free water stations.

But NXNE knows it missed the mark on this one. "From the minute we opened our gates, I was like, oh dear. We messed up," says founder Michael Hollett.

NXNE will return to the Port Lands in 2017 and Hollett says there will 100 per cent be free water available next year. "The good thing is, it's a very easy fix. We'll never do it again that way."

And other festivals are getting more serious about water too.

WayHome's happening next weekend and due to this summer's hot and dry weather, it's adding an additional water station on the festival grounds. There's now going to be one near the main concert bowl as well as one close to the WayBold stage, along with another one in the VIP area.

Festival producer Ryan Howes says they went through an astounding 160,000 gallons of water last year - clearly these free stations proved popular.

While NXNE was a bust, for the most part local festivals are doing pretty okay. Toronto Urban Roots Festival, for instance, has been going plastic water bottle-free since 2015. There's water on site and organizers encourage guests to bring environmentally friendly vessels. And while free water stations can sometimes be hard to find - like at Bestival this year - they're usually there.

The majority of Toronto music festivals happen in the summer months and staying hydrated is essential if you're dancing in the sun all day - it becomes even more important if you choose to drink.

Always come prepared with a refillable bottle, and if you're not sure if there's going to be free water on site, check beforehand. As Yee know, it'll save you a lot of grief later.

Photo by Jesse Milns.

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