Green Initiatives

In 2016, Hillside Festival received the award for Best Green Operations Festival from Canadian Music Week. We've received the Festival and Events Ontario for Best Greening of a Festival from 2008 to 2016, and in 2014, Hillside was give the Honour Roll Award from Grand River Conservation Authority for "a sustained record of achievement over an extended period of time."  Long ago--in the 80s--we made a commitment to continue greening initiatives on site.  Each initiative is designed to keep the earth green and clean and to include as many people as possible—not just Hillside patrons, but all users of the park for generations to come.


Green Team

This is a team of enthusiastic Hillside volunteers who ask for donations for our Green Fund.  They try not to be obnoxious, but they are passionate about their mission.  Started in 2005, the Green Team initially raised funds for the building of the Living Roof on the main stage, which now has greenery planted in the shape of our logo.  In 2016 we powered the Rainbow Stage with pedal power.  Patrons and volunteers pedaled stationary bikes to produce the energy that powered the sound equipment for the stage. Currently, our Green Team is raising money for alternative energy projects and other worthwhile initiatives that promote our core values.

Each patron contribution to the Green Fund is matched dollar for dollar by the festival from its own reserves to acquire new green technology or equipment. Please visit our “Green Team” booth set up on the festival weekend in the Neighbourhood Tent.



Green Roof

The Hillside festival is very proud of our Living Roof atop the permanent Main Stage on Guelph Lake Island. The green roof replaces green space lost in the building of the main stage and, in the long run, it improves air quality, helps reduce water going into the storm sewers, and provides insulation value year-round. Concrete, pavement, and ordinary roofs reflect heat into the atmosphere, adding to pollution and humidity. Plants and trees, by contrast, filter heat and absorb air pollution through their leaves. They add oxygen to the atmosphere. Benefits don’t stop there, however:  vegetables can be grown on them, and they can become habitats for birds and butterflies. Green roofs help brighten spaces and increase a building's longevity and usefulness.




Take a plate, snag a mug, grab a fork or spork, and do your part to eliminate disposable dishes from Hillside!  All of the beer tents have reusable beer mugs and wine glasses for sale. Reusable sporks (you guessed it: a fork and spoon together as one!) are available for sale at the Info Booth. Food Vendors serve their delicious fare on sturdy reusable plates. We collect and clean all of the plates, cups and cutlery used throughout the weekend. Look for the Trash Turnaround stations where there are bins for dirty dishes located along with compost, recycling and waste containers. You may also bring your dirty dishes to us to wash for you! Dishwashing facilities are located to the right of the Main Stage. Stop by and say hello to our Dish Wizards who work hard 16 hours a day to make disposable dishes a thing of the past!



Trails at the Lake

The Green Trail, established over the past few years with the help of Hillside patron donations, links the parking lot to the festival site and provides a relaxing stroll to start or end a day of music.  On the festival weekend, look for trail signs near the beach at the causeway and the Gate Tent in the parking lot!



Trash Turnarounds

Hillside works hard to minimize the amount of garbage headed for landfill. Please don’t throw your plastic dishes away — put them in the dish boxes provided (see Dishwashing and Reusable Dishes, previous page). Trash Turnaround depots can be found everywhere! All of us are pretty well-trained now, but just in case some of you aren’t sure of the turnaround dance, it goes like this: scrape your food waste into the compost bin, slide your dishes into the dish bin, and pop your recyclables into the recycling bin. Easy.




Hillside is all about people power.  We try to do our part in reducing our emissions, so when possible we use cargo trikes instead of golf carts to transport items from one place on the island to another. 



Bikes and Buses

In an effort to reduce our carbon footprint, we encourage you to ride your bike to the festival or to take the shuttle bus. We have a bicycle parking lot right on the island (bring a lock!), and organized bike rides are available through our partnership with Guelph Off Road Bicycling Association. Every year, over 500 people ride their bikes to the festival--that's about 10% of our patrons. We would like to increase that to 20% over the next five years. And thousands of people take the shuttle bus. We rent buses from a local company, the cost of which is subsidized by the sale of parking passes to festivalgoers who drive in. The Downtown Shuttle Bus stop is at St. George's Square at the corner of Wyndham and Quebec Streets. The schedule is here: The bus stop at the festival is in the Transportation Hub. You can take buses to and fro all day and night. Be careful not to leave anything behind on the bus; we cannot assume responsibility for lost, damaged, or stolen items.



Water Tanker

Ten years ago we became the first festival in the region to offer free water to our patrons while getting rid of the ubiquitous and damaging plastic water bottle. Thanks to the City of Guelph, festival-goers can fill their contain­ers with Guelph tap water for free at any of the eight tap and fountain stations on the Guelph Water Wagon. The water is tested regularly to ensure its quality and safety.



Solar Power

Hillside promotes the use of sustainable energy alternatives such as solar technology through the use of its new solar water heater that is housed in a refur­bished camping trailer parked just outside the Dishwashing area. It feeds hot water into the sinks where our Dish Wizards perform their magic on all of the reusable dishes that come their way. The solar trailer was created by some of our ingenious volunteers with money raised by our feisty Green Team. Additonally, in 2017, we introduced a solar-powered phone charging station at the Island stage.