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

Currently, our Green Team is raising money for our Energy Park.  This is a team of 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.  This year, we are powering the Rainbow Stage with pedal power.  We are hoping that patrons can cycle on stationary bikes in order to produce the energy that powers the batteries that, in turn, power the lights and sound equipment for the stage. 

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 and grab a spork! Do your part to eliminate disposable dishes from Hillside!  All beer tents have reusable beer mugs for sale. Reusable sporks (you guessed it: a fork and spoon together as one!) are available for sale in the Food Pavilion, Merch Tent, Beer Tents and Info Booth. Our Food Vendors serve on sturdy reusable plates. We collect and clean all of the plates, cups and cutlery used throughout the weekend thanks to our amazing crew of Dishwashing Volunteers. On the festival weekend, keep your eyes open for the dish stations outside the Food Pavilion and dish bins, conveniently located along with all 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 hardworking “Dish Ninjas” who work 16 hours a day to make disposable dishes a thing of the past!

Trails around Guelph Lake

The Green Trail, established over the past few years with the help of Hillside patron donations, links parking 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!

Waste Management System

Hillside works hard to ensure that our waste collection system minimizes the amount of garbage headed for the landfill site. Please don’t throw your plastic dishes away – put them in the dishwashing boxes provided. To make sorting simple, bins are grouped together: recyclables, waste, compost and dishes. Check the waste disposal sign posted at each container and then sort your waste accordingly.


Hillside is all about people power.  We try to do our part in reducing our emissions, so instead of golf carts, we use trikes to transport items from one place on the island to another.  A trike is bike with a storage compartment pushed along by some of our great volunteers.

Bicycles 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. 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 festival-goers who drive in. Where's the shuttle bus stop? 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.

While many people ride to Hillside independently, a lot of people take comfort and pleasure in riding with a group. We have Organized Bike Rides to encourage everyone to cycle to the festival. They are led by a cycling advocacy group in Guelph, who will take you along the trails out to Guelph Lake from downtown and back again. It's about a 10km distance, which can take between 35 and 50 minutes. The Organized Bike Rides depart from downtown at the same place as the Shuttle Buses leave (St. George's Square). On the Friday of the festival, they depart at 5 pm. On the Saturday and Sunday of the festival, they depart downtown at 10am. Each night of the festival, the Organized Bike Ride gathers outside the Bike Lock-Up area at 11:15pm. The Ride has a police escort through the conservation area, down Conservation Road, and all the way out to Victoria Road. Since it's very dark in the conservation area, we beg you to get bike lights and reflectors. It's also a good idea to bring a working lock for your bike; we cannot assume responsibility for lost, stolen, or misplaced bicycles and their related accoutrements.

Water Tanker

For the ninth year in a row, through a generous sponsorship from the City of Guelph, a water tanker is on site filled with City of Guelph tap water. We were the first festival in the region to introduce this way of providing water to our patrons while getting rid of the ubiquitous and damaging plastic water bottle. The City of Guelph was critical to our success in this endeavour. Water is fed into the City's Water Wagon, which has eight taps available at once for people to refill their canteens. The water is tested throughout the weekend to ensure its safety.  Festival-goers can have their containers filled free of charge by volunteers 5pm-10pm on Friday night and 10am-10pm Saturday and Sunday. 

Sun Stage

Hillside showcases solar technology by presenting spoken word and acoustic performances on a solar-powered stage. The Sun Stage promotes the use of sustainable energy alternatives, thanks to the Canadian Solar Industries Association (CanSIA). Visit the solar trailer near the Sun Stage to learn more about this renewable energy resource. We also have a solar water heater, designed by a crew of Hillside volunteers, that provides hot water for dishwashing all weekend long. You can reproduce this design by checking out the how-to diagram in Alternatives Journal: