Eighth Annual

Princeton Traditional Music Festival

Friday 14 to Sunday 16 August ~ 2015


What's the difference between a fiddle and a violin? Some people would say there is no difference -- they are exactly the same instrument; same shape, same size, same number of strings, etc. If you put a fiddle and a violin side by side they would be identical. The difference comes when someone picks up the instrument and plays it. If the music they play sounds like it comes from the court of an 18th century king; if it is played in a concert hall and/or in an orchestra, and if the musician plays from written music then it’s a violin. If the music is played at a party and makes you want to get up and dance then it’s a fiddle.

We recognize fiddle (as opposed to violin) music when we hear it. What most of us here in western Canada have probably heard is either American bluegrass-type fiddle tunes such as “The Orange Blossom Special” or, if we’re older than 60, Maritime fiddling such as that heard on Don Messer’s Jubilee. But fiddle music has rich and varied traditions throughout the world, ranging from Scottish folk dance tunes to the complex rhythms of Balkan fiddling to the Norwegian Hardanger tradition and to Jewish Klezmer music. Even within Canada we have very different regional styles of fiddling. The tunes heard on Don Messer’s Jubilee are very different from what you would have heard at a parish hall dance in Quebec, a Métis community in northern Alberta or a Newfoundland kitchen. The reason these traditions have evolved into such unique and varied styles is because the music comes out of specific cultural communities. These communities were isolated from one another and developed their own, individual styles of music. With vastly improved communication and transportation, fiddlers these days are often masters of various styles of music.

At the Princeton Traditional Music Festival you will have the rare treat of being surrounded by a plethora of master fiddlers. A group of them will get together on the Saturday morning of the Festival for a one-hour session called”Five Fiddles.” Annie Brown has performed at the Festival since its beginning in 2008 and is one of Vancouver’s leading Irish and English Country dance fiddlers. Michael Burnyeat is the resident fiddler at Vancouver’s Jericho Folk Club. Rosie Carver, who will be hosting this session, plays with Blackthorn, a Vancouver-based folk quartet who play Celtic music. Their repertoire is rooted in the musical traditions of Scotland, Ireland and England as well as English and French Canada.

Valerie Cohen from Seattle has organized and performed in children’s and family concerts. She plays French, Canadian, Irish and Scandinavian tunes. Bryn Wilkin, a multi-instrumentalist fiddle player from Grand Forks is one half of, Vazzy, a duo that plays traditional songs and tunes from Acadia and Quebec with some newer compositions in the traditional style.

These fiddlers will share their love of the instrument and their musical virtuosity in the Five Fiddles session, which is just one item on the rich menu of music available at the Princeton Traditional Music Festival. The Festival begins at 6:15 pm on Friday 14 August with an opening ceremony and a participatory dance on Veterans’ Way. On Saturday and Sunday there is music from 10 am until 6 pm right in downtown Princeton. It’s all free and everyone is welcome. If you would like to find out more, visit the Festival’s website at www.princetontraditional.org. If you’d like to help out at the Festival or billet a performer the committee would love to hear from you.

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The Festival

Admission is FREE.  Events are held on several stages in the centre of Princeton and begin on Friday evening with a public street dance and an Irish ceili band. Between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday there's a potpourri of concerts, workshops, and jams.

The Scene

This event is primarily for and about the performers. Traditional Music lacks venue in the west, so players, singers, dancers, and fans are willing to travel in order to meet up. Professional performers are making personal sacrifices in order to be here, but the many people who come just to listen attests to the unique value of this event. For those new to the Festival please have a look at the Our Story page to learn about how it started and what Traditional Music means to us.


The Place

Nestled among rolling hills of ranchland, the little town of Princeton is the gateway to the Okanagan. About 300 km from Vancouver, it is the first town after Hope along the Crowsnest Highway. Summers are hot and dry - just what we like for our festival which takes place mostly in the streets.


In addition to the sponsors, this festival is primarily supported by hard work and artists who perform for free. However, we aim to pay for artist's meals and at least part of their transportation costs. Please consider contributing in order to help maintain this important cultural event.

Become a Member

You can support the continuing operation of the festival by buying a $10 membership.


Every year we need a stage crew, MCs, office staff, and many other important helpers. If you want to be part of this exciting event in this way, please let us know. volunteers@princetontraditional.org


We encourage the sale of food, crafts, art, and more at the Festival. Please contact the Vendor Coordinator. vendors@princetontraditional.org


Funding for the Festival comes from donations, as well as grants from the Town of Princeton, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, and the Province of British Columbia.

We thank you all!

Festival Audience



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