Music. Art. People. Food. Wellington.
For one week in August, BIGLAKE Festival and its partners in the community transform the lakeside village of Wellington, Prince Edward County into a canvas for performance and creativity.
BIGLAKE Festival grew out of Wellington Water Week, which ran from 2018-2019. Water Week used Wellington’s natural heritage on Lake Ontario as its inspiration for artistic, community and environmentally-related programming.
Programmed by COC Music Director Johannes Debus, and award-winning violinist Elissa Lee, BIGLAKE welcomes some of Canada’s premiere artists and ensembles. Local businesses and organizations open their doors to activities throughout the week, such as Wellington United Church, Wellington Heritage Museum, SHED, Karlo Estates, the Grange, and many places in between!
About the Programmers
The concerts for Wellington Water Week are programmed by Johannes Debus, the critically acclaimed and esteemed Music Director for The Canadian Opera Company and Elissa Lee, an award-winning and internationally renowned violinist with Ensemble Made in Canada and one of the founders of the Mosaïque Project which performed during Wellington Water Week in 2018. This husband and wife team were introduced to Wellington by their good friends and Wellington area residents, Maria Gacesa, a classically trained musician and her actor/developer husband, Anthony Lemke. Johannes and Elissa immediately fell in love with the area, and decided to carve a window out of their hectic performing schedules that span the globe so they could share their love of music within this community. Maria’s driving passion for the arts and the environment coupled with her strong ties to the community gave birth to the idea of Wellington Water Week, and an exciting partnerhsip was formed.
About the Visual Artists
A week-long art exhibit was once again organized by the prolific Wellington-based artist, Stew Jones. In 2018 + 2019, in honour of Wellington Water Week – Stew organized an incredible exhibit inspired by Lake Ontario Waterkeeper‘s mandate to create a “swimmable, drinkable, fishable future” that featured several original works from outstanding local artists. These artists included Pam Carter, Kevin Scanlon, Julie Himel,Terry Cuthburt, Vanessa Pandos, Michelle Reid + Elizabeth Rennie just to name a few. The exhibit took place at The Midtown Brewery and 50% of the proceeds from the sale of the artwork went to the Wellington Rotary Club and a portion was also donated to Lake Ontario Waterkeeper. You can meet Stew in the video below as we stopped by Midtown Brewing for a quick visit just before the festival kicked off in 2018 and you can also quickly meet Elissa and Johannes who both make guest-starring appearances in this video!
About the community
Wellington, located in the heart of Prince Edward County, is a bustling and passionate community. Home to some of the county’s biggest draws including the Midtown Brewery, the Drake Devonshire, East and Main and other incredible restaurants; The County’s professional theatre company, Festival Players and the well-loved junior A hockey team, The Wellington Dukes. The town is also famous for their farmers market, the widely-popular annual Pumpkinfest event and their prized children’s playground right on the shore of Lake Ontario. While the village of Wellington is favourably framed by the lake, picturesque farms, award-winning wineries, businesses and artisans of all kinds, its true heart is found in the unique community of individuals that call it home.
About our Wellington environment
A trip to the local Wellington Heritage Museum will quickly show how closely tied the community has historically been, and continues to be, to the environment: from fishing, canning, and rum running, to farming, wine, cider, beer, spirits-producing, and of course, to tourism! Now, more so than ever, we need to do what we can to protect all aspects of the environment, including the water. Wellington is located right on the shore of Lake Ontario with a local beach and waterfront that is the jewel in Wellington’s crown and accessible to all. Neighbouring Sandbanks beach, The Wellington Rotary Beach is a beloved draw for locals and tourists, who stroll along the boardwalk or come to swim, picnic and relax. Every year the Wellington Rotary organizes a community beach clean up that bags up a shocking amount garbage–most notably plastic—that has washed up on shore. They also clear back overgrowth from the boardwalk and attend to any repairs that are necessary. The Wellington Rotary are stewards of the beach and work diligently to upgrade and maintain this important feature of the village. Part of the goal of Water Week is to celebrate and draw attention to Wellington’s natural heritage through the performing arts, both thematically and also by proximity: the photos will attest that the lake is never far from what’s happening artistically and can function as audience, muse and main attraction.
COVID may have knocked the wind out of our sails this summer, but we still have fond memories from last year’s lineup…
Our Inaugural Event
In 2018 we tested the waters (pun intended!) to see if the community would embrace our concept (and it did!).