Winter Warmer Festival Keeps Getting Cosier!

Category: music 204

St. Andrews’ mid-winter festival continues to host top-flight talent in intimate spaces. This year’s festival runs February 1-3.

Lennie Gallant will perform as part of the Songwriter’s Circle, February 2 at The Algonquin.

Halifax has the In Dead of Winter Festival and Fredericton, Shivering Songs. Small towns can also create high profile winter music festival events, however, they are likely to be more intimate and cosy affairs. St. Andrews, New Brunswick’s Winter Warmer Festival is a case in point. Now eight years old it was conceived by music industry artist manager and presenter Jamie Steel who wanted to share great music to those who lived in and around his small seaside town known for its history and summer season activities.

Ewan McIntyre

The original intent for Winter Warmer was to create a house concert festival. Multiple house shows within town over the course of a weekend. Small intimate crowds, in cosy, homey settings. However, town by laws helped to derail this idea. So Steel realized that there were enough small intimate spaces within the town that the same flavor could be created in these venues. All but one of the shows that take place during the festival have an audience cap of between 30 and 70 people. One main show takes place at the Algonquin Hotel where an audience of up to 200 can be accommodated.

The performances are primarily acoustic based, featuring solo and duo to small ensemble based acts. The big show that takes place has changed in recent years from a band event to a very popular songwriter’s circle event featuring some of the region’s (and sometimes national and international) well known songwriters. The weekend also tries to highlight an emerging artist or two.

In the past the festival has hosted the likes of Old Man Luedecke, Don Brownrigg, Gabrielle Papillon, Bill Stevenson, The Backyard Devils, Lisa Leblanc, Les Hay Babies, Acres and Acres, The Olympic Symphonium, Mo Kenny, Dylan Menzies, Stephen Fearing, Jessica Rhaye, Andy Creegan and Owen Steel among dozens of others.

Abby Pond

The event this year begins on Friday February 1 with a show at Honeybeans Café featuring Fraser and Girard a classic folk duo.  Alan Fraser has been performing for 50 years having NPR in the States name one of his compositions one of the top 10 folk songs ever written. His partner Marianne Girard has been performing internationally for 40 years. Former CBC music critic Bob Mersereau described them as the best folk duo since Ian and Sylvia. Other performances over the weekend will be given by Toronto based singer Andrea Ramolo, Scottish born and Montreal based Ewan McIntyre and his band, New Brunswick emerging francophone artist Maggie Savoie and the Saint John String Quartet.

This year’s Songwriter’s Circle held at the Algonquin hotel’s Van Horne Ballroom on Saturday evening will be hosted by Saint John’s Debbie Adshade who has been coming to St. Andrews to sing for 30 years. She will bring to the stage three of Atlantic Canada’s most revered songwriters Lennie Gallant, Laura Smith and JP Cormier.

All the shows are staggered so it’s possible to see and hear every artist and venues are only a couple of blocks from one another…it’s a small town. Virtually every venue will be licensed and also be serving winter comfort food like chili and chowder, wings and pizza and warm and cold drinks.

It’s the perfect combination of great music and cosy atmosphere you will find at this time of year. You are invited to come and take part. Come and get cosy. Going to be fun!


​Fraser & Girard | Honeybeans – upstairs | Doors at 5. Show 5:30 p.m. | $5 donation
Andrea Ramolo | Sunbury Shores | Doors at 6:30. Show at 7 p.m.| $10
​The Lifers & Maggie Savoie | Anglican Church Hall | Doors at 8 p.m. Show at 8:30 p.m. | $20


​Abby Pond | Sunbury Shores | Doors at 3 p.m. Show at 4 p.m. | $5 donation
Ewan McIntyre | Anglican Church Hall | Doors at 6 p.m. Show at 6:30p.m. | $15
Songwriter’s Circle | Van Horne Ballroom – The Algonquin | Doors at 7:30 p.m. Show at 8 p.m. | $24


Saint John String Quartet | All Saints Anglican Church | Doors at 2 p.m. Show at 2:30 p.m. | $20

Full details and ticket information can be found at

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