About the festival


August 18 – 21 2016

St. John’s, NL


 Welcome to HOLD FAST 2016

St. John’s is a special place to host a contemporary art festival. Our city is ragged, rugged, on an island far away. Yet, nestled in the harbour, with bold art horizons in view, HOLD FAST celebrates our unique location with thoughtful art programming for all ages. Our four-day festival creates meaningful opportunities for exchange and builds new and lasting bridges between people in St. John’s and artists, curators, and writers living across Canada and internationally. All are welcome. All aboard!

Our 2016 artists are a wildly talented crew. We were thrilled to welcome visiting artists Life of a Craphead (ON), Versa (ON), Nadège Grebmeier Forget (QC), and Walter Scott (ON) to St. John’s for the first time. With closer connections to home, Kailey Bryan and Pepa Chan (NL) and Jonathan Green (NL + AB) round out our diverse roster.

This year, HOLD FAST shares its enthusiasm for the secret language of ships. The International Code of Signals (ICS) is a system of signals and codes ships use to communicate at sea. How can we re-interpret signal flag messages and find new ways to create meaning and share experiences using a language deeply embedded in our nautical history? From a ship’s mast to social media, what can we communicate in code?


Penelope Smart, Director, Eastern Edge Gallery

April White, Festival Manager

Alice Hietala & Stephen Brace, Festival Coordinators


Foxtrot Oscar One, Eastern Edge wall mural design by Jonathan Green, pained by Liam Penney. Unveiling as part of HOLD FAST 2016.

HOLD FAST Contemporary Arts Festival
August 18-21 2016

HOLD FAST is a four-day celebration of contemporary art practice held in August in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. 17 years old, HOLD FAST is the province’s only festival dedicated to contemporary art.  HOLD FAST regular events are free and open to all.

HOLD FAST transforms downtown St. John’s into a city alive with art and ideas.

Previously known as the Art Marathon Festival, HOLD FAST delivers accessible, meaningful and critically-relevant contemporary art programming across an array of media including: installation, performance, screenings, artist talks, music, dance, community events and artist-led workshops for people of all ages.


Life of a Craphead (ON)

Nadège Grebmeier Forget (QC)

Versa (ON)

Walter Scott (ON)

Jonathan Green (AB + NL)

Kailey Bryan + Pepa Chan (NL)

HOLD FAST @ The Ship Pub w/

Ritual Frames, Vocal X Choir, The Kubasonics


Art Crawl 

Bugs Film Screening

Fancy Artist Talks

Family Signal Flagging Workshop   

Artist-Led Workshops


The Wandering Pavilion HOLD FAST HQ


+ much more

HOLD FAST Facebook Page

@holdfastfestival | @easternedge | #holdfast2016 #holdfastfestival #keepclosetoyouduringthenight

Design by Amery Sandford