Nickelback

Nickelback, as seen performing at Fallsview Casino in 2024, will headline Rock The Park opening night. (photo by Dan Savoie)

For the past two decades, Rock the Park has been more than just a music festival; it has been a testament to the enduring power of music, community, and the indomitable spirit of London. As the festival gears up for its momentous 20th anniversary from July 10-13 at Harris Park, the city is buzzing with anticipation for four electrifying nights featuring headliners Nickelback, Bryan Adams, Nas, and Tyler Childers.

Brad and Greg Jones of Jones Entertainment Group (JEG) founded Rock the Park in London, Ontario in 2003. Their vision was to create a unique music event in the heart of the city at Harris Park along the Thames River. Initially focusing on classic rock, the festival expanded to include country music in 2014 and pop/retro nights in 2016, adapting to evolving musical tastes. Over its 20-year history, Rock the Park has welcomed more than 675,000 attendees and raised over $4 million for local charities.

 

Throughout its history, Rock the Park has also featured an impressive array of renowned artists from various genres. Classic rock legends like Alice Cooper, Peter Frampton, Styx, and Deep Purple have graced the stage, while alternative and modern rock acts such as Weezer, The Tragically Hip, Billy Talent, and Alexisonfire have also delivered unforgettable performances. The festival has welcomed country superstars like Dierks Bentley and Jake Owen, as well as hip-hop and R&B icons like Nelly, Ludacris, Snoop Dogg, and TLC. Additionally, Canadian favorites like Alanis Morissette, Tom Cochrane, and The Glorious Sons have showcased the country’s homegrown talent at Rock the Park.

As it approaches its 20th anniversary from July 10-13, 2024, the festival remains one of Canada’s most anticipated summer music events. Organizers have even requested a fifth day extension from London city council to make the 20th anniversary extra special

Myriah Kay, Marketing Director at Jones Entertainment Group, has been with the festival for half of its existence. “Every year is completely different,” she shared. “Obviously, Brad and Greg started it just over 20 years ago. There’s been so many fun times that people will never see, but they also never see the chaos either.”

The 20th anniversary lineup showcases the festival’s continued ability to attract top-tier talent across various genres. The festival kicks off on Wednesday night with Canadian rock band Nickelback, supported by The Glorious Sons, The Tea Party, and Crown Lands. Thursday features country sensation Tyler Childers, along with Charles Wesley Godwin, The Strumbellas, and Sam Barber. Friday night brings the heat with hip-hop icon Nas, joined by Ne-Yo, Lil Jon, Sean Kingston, Shawn Desman, and Keri Hilson. The festival closes out on Saturday with Canadian rock legend Bryan Adams, alongside Alan Doyle, The Sheepdogs, and Odds.

Behind the scenes, the Rock the Park team works tirelessly to create an unforgettable experience for attendees. “We’re going to do a lot more on the ground upgrades for the 20 years,” Kay revealed. “We have a bunch of our sponsors that will walk around and be like, hey, do you want to come into VIP or come to our suite and do little things like that to celebrate as well?”

What sets Rock the Park apart is its unique format and charitable component. “We’re a festival, but we’re also just an individual concert every night,” Kay explained. “People want to come. It’s just one day in one day out. If they want to stay for multiple days, they can. But it’s not like you’re required to buy a weekend pass or a camping pass.”

Booking the right acts is crucial to the festival’s success. “We personally think Nickelback, Bryan Adams, Tyler, Nas, they are all iconic to us,” Kay remarked. While there’s no secret formula, the team works hard to create a diverse and exciting lineup each year.

The festival’s impact extends far beyond the music. “We know every single hotel is sold out in downtown London for the entire week that our festival is here,” Kay noted. “We know we’re friends with the downtown London restaurant owners. We know how busy it gets, especially in the off-season when students are away.”

For Kay, the most rewarding aspect of being involved with Rock the Park is witnessing the joy it brings to attendees. “Honestly, at the end of every night, I’m so busy, so I’m running around everywhere. But at the end of every night, when I’m done most of the stuff, I finally get my dinner around 10:00 p.m. And I sit on the side of the stage. And I don’t usually watch the headliner. I just sit on the side where the curtain is open a little bit and I can see the crowd. And that’s just the coolest thing I’ve ever experienced. Every single night.”

As Rock the Park celebrates its 20th anniversary, the festival shows no signs of slowing down. With an unbreakable bond with the London community and a commitment to delivering unforgettable experiences, Rock the Park is poised to continue its legacy for years to come.

The festival’s success is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the entire Rock the Park team. “Everyone on our team knows our roles,” Kay explained. “We’ve been partnering with pretty well the same charity since day one. We had Bethanys Hope Foundation for the longest time, and then they had to branch off into some other initiatives. But we’ve stuck with the same charitable partners after that since, with the exception of rotating a couple in and out when they needed a break.”

One of the biggest challenges the festival faces each year is the weather, with the residual effects of Tropical Depression Beryl threatening the opening nights of the festival. “When we see other festivals and they get bad weather, we feel for them, we know that’s the biggest risk you could possibly have doing something outdoors,” Kay said.

Despite the challenges, Rock the Park has managed to thrive where other festivals have faltered. “I think it’s definitely that. And we’re a community coming together,” Kay explained. “Everyone on our team knows our roles. We’ve been partnering with pretty well the same charity since day one.”

As for the future of Rock the Park, Kay sees the festival continuing to adapt to new trends. “I don’t necessarily see it evolving. I think just more restructuring or changing again, transitioning into maybe the next new cool trend and hopefully going from there,” she said. “Obviously, we can’t get any bigger than what we are, and we don’t want to exceed what we are. It’s the perfect spot. It’s the perfect capacity.”

For music lovers, Rock the Park is more than just a festival; it’s an experience that brings people together and creates lasting memories. “I think we really do try to give something to everyone, for everyone,” Kay said. “There’s nights that I personally don’t connect with the show because that’s just not my music sense. I’ve never grown up listening to that genre, but I’m still there making sure I ask people who do enjoy it.”

As the first chords ring out across Harris Park this week, it’s clear that Rock the Park will continue to be a beacon of joy, unity, and giving back for years to come. For more information and tickets, visit rockthepark.ca.

 

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