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Victoria Ska and Reggae Festival set to have biggest turnout yet

Turning 25, the festival celebrates Jamaican-rooted music with a standout lineup including The Suicide Machines and Dead Prez
The Victoria Ska and Reggae Festival runs June 19-23 in 2024.

The Victoria Ska and Reggae Festival kicks off with feel-good music June 19, and organizers expect it to have the biggest attendance yet. 

Last year’s festival saw attendance all-time highs, with approximately 13,500 total attendees.

“With more bands this year, one more venue than last year and this being our 25th Anniversary, we are headed towards another record-setting year,” said Blake Morneau, Victoria Ska Society publicist. 

This year’s festival runs June 19-23, across four venues: Ship Point, Victoria Curling Club, Lucky Bar and The Wicket Hall. There will be a free show each day of the festival, plus ticketed shows, all highlighting the influence and roots of Jamaican music. This lends itself to a broad musical landscape, Morneau said, given how many genres Jamaican-rooted music has influenced. 

“It really allows us to open up the scope of who we’re able to welcome. We’re looking for groove - we want all the acts that hit our stage to get people moving and dancing,” Morneau said. “We want artists who are connected to their communities, who hold ideals of social justice, equality and care for the world around them - subjects that are at the heart of early ska and roots reggae music.” 

A big standout at this year’s festival is American punk ska band The Suicide Machines.

“A band that we’ve admired for a very long time and it’s kind of shocking they haven’t joined us before,” Morneau said. “They’re fiercely independent and hold steadfast to their beliefs.” 

Other standouts include hip-hop Dead Prez, playing their first gig in Canada in over a decade, The Kiltlifters who haven’t played together since 2011, and the return of Chris Murray, a Canadian ska legend who was at the very first Victoria Ska Fest. 

“I can’t think of anyone better to close down this landmark festival for us,” Morneau said. 

An act Morneau is personally excited to see is six-time Juno nominee Ammoye, who is part of the free show that kicks off the festival on June 19 at Ship Point.

“She’s an incredible reggae vocalist from Toronto (born in Jamaica) who makes really beautiful, powerful reggae music.” Ammoye will share the stage with Antidoping, The Capital Collective, Gisto & The Grateful Living, and Judah Roots. 

The festival stands out globally, being the longest-running reggae festival in North America. Morneau said there aren't many festivals like it.

"The fact that we’re not only still going into our 25th year, but are in fact growing, is a testament to the community that has grown around the festival. We have attendees who came to Year 1 and are still coming, some with kids and even some with grandkids now."

"While ska & reggae’s profile in mainstream music may experience peaks and valleys, the dedicated people in our community have helped make this festival and our city a haven for the music. It regularly blows my mind that this festival dedicated to the musical influence of a tiny island in the Caribbean exists here on the west coast of Canada. From one island to another."

Full schedule, festival passes, or tickets to individual shows are available at

Sam Duerksen

About the Author: Sam Duerksen

Since moving to Victoria from Winnipeg in 2020, I’ve worked in communications for non-profits and arts organizations.
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