After the pandemic stops, the “Waking Windows” Winsuke Music Festival is back with domestic and international headlines

Winooski’s Waking Windows, like many live music festivals, is back post-COVID after a two-year hiatus.

The festival, which runs from May 13-15, can trace its roots back to more than a decade ago, to a bar in downtown Winwinsky. This iteration of Monkey House was a 12-day affair, featuring dozens of bands on one small stage.

The event is now concentrated in three days and attracts thousands to Winooski bars, clubs and outdoor theaters to listen to local, national and international music performances. It even has a pub crawl for book lovers.

This year’s headlines include the latest Grammy nominee for Best New Artist, Japanese Breakfast, which was scheduled to play Waking Windows in 2020, but the event was canceled due to a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Dinosaur Junior has been a major part of the rock tour since the 1980s, and will also top the music festival.

More Waking Windows on NPR Music Live Sessions

Vermont bands and deejays promote the bulk of live music, performing on outdoor theaters, inside churches, and in the dozens of bars and restaurants lining the main streets of Onion City.

VPR’s Marie Engish spoke to Waking Windows co-founder Paddy Reagan about the music festival’s comeback. Their conversation below has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Marie Engish: And you guys have been on a hiatus for two or two full years from COVID? Anything different, new, or anything that people who have already changed in the past two years can expect?

Buddy Reagan: We’ve made a conscious effort to cut things down a little bit. I think in the past we had 17 places. I think we’re now working with 13, which doesn’t seem like a huge downsizing.

Brian Jenkins, courtesy


The Waking Windows Music Festival declined during the pandemic, but returned in 2022 with three days of main performances, deejays, pub crawls for book lovers and a comedy show.

But it really – from the organizers’ point of view – required, you know, a lot of planning and scheduling for our boards.

But it also worked so well that we couldn’t necessarily book as many local bands as we usually do. It is really important that we highlight the local music scene. And that was a tough decision, because it basically took, you know, 25, 30 or 35 slots off the board where we could have local bands playing, which is hard to do.

So some of the bands that used to play every year did not play this year. And what’s really interesting is that there are a lot of great new teams that have come out in the last few years playing.

And so it was kind of this delicate balancing act of trying to figure out how to honor the landscape as it exists now. And how, you know, honor that scene because it’s been the last 12 years since we started the festival.

There are people who are going to go watch live music, any chance they have. Then there are people like me who are very introverted and don’t like being in big crowds, but they love live music. So are there any similar tips or pointers for different types of fans who really want to be able to come to the festival and connect?

Certainly yes. I think a great first step is to go to the Waking Windows website. We’ve got a playlist of all the bands playing, and we’ve got an idea of ​​what kind works for you. And then you can sort of organize your weekend.

There are people coding their software, and you can see them – they’re like them, they’re running from place to place, and they’re very invested in seeing everything they can.

And you know, we encourage people, if they feel like they want to wear a mask inside some places, do it. Do whatever makes you feel comfortable at the festival. You know, if you’re feeling a little hesitant about being indoors, there’s a lot of music going on outdoors on the main stages, and there’s plenty of room to spread it out as needed.

You know, like many companies and many things that kind of come back to life after a pandemic, there are a lot of kinks that need to be worked out.

We do this festival because we love Winooski, because we love creating spaces for people to gather, enjoy music, and enjoy each other’s company. And there will be some bumps in the road for all of us, be patient and pay attention not only to the people who work at the festival, because 90% of them are volunteers, but also the people around you.

Dozens of bands are set to play. Where are they all going to prepare? And what about people who come and look for food to go with the live music?

Make your way to the main platform, which is Winooski Falls Way, which we are closed on Friday and Saturday. This is where our headlines will be.

There will be food trucks there. You can cross to the roundabout, and we’ll have some food carts there. There is a bunch of bands playing there.

“We do this festival because we love Winooski, because we love creating spaces for people to gather, enjoy music, and enjoy each other’s company.”

Waking Windows Founding Member Paddy Reagan

There are a lot of places participating throughout the Rotary. There will be a Methodist church that has music. And you know from Monkey House and Mule Bar both the food and the music.

The best parking spot in Winooski is a hidden garage type of parking lot behind Spinner Place. Exit the third floor and head to the VSAC building, where our box office will be. Get your daily pass or weekend pass, whatever you buy.

It’s kind of like, “Choose your own adventure.” Bring yourself fully, but also know that everyone else will be fully prepared.

Do you have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message.

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