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Thousands of fans to descend on Niagara-on-the-Lake

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 with a foreign invasion.

Best known for its genteel entertainments enjoyed by people of a certain age - winery tours and the Shaw theatre festival - the town of 15,000 is preparing to welcome more than 20,000 music fans inclined to more raucous diversions. On Monday, AEG Concerts will announce The Tragically Hip are set to headline an all-day concert on Saturday, June 30 that will also include the Rural Alberta Advantage, New Pornographers with Neko Case, and Death Cab for Cutie.

The show, slated for the historic Butler's Barracks, almost failed to get the green light from a burg that is accustomed to its visitors getting to bed at a reasonable hour. Two weeks ago, an extension of the local noise bylaw that will permit the concert to go past 10 p.m. received very narrow approval, passing town council by a vote of only 4-3.

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The concert is the first event of its kind for the area, which in recent years has brought in acts such as Kathleen Edwards to perform at the Jackson-Triggs winery's amphitheatre, which holds 450 people.

"It opens up Niagara-on-the-Lake to 20,000 people who normally wouldn't come here," said councillor Martin Mazza, who voted in favour of the noise extension.

It also may revive hopes for Project Niagara, a summer music festival conceived by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the National Arts Centre which was shelved two years ago after feasibility studies, but remains a dream of those involved.

"This is going to be a one-time event that will prove to everyone, once and for all, if (Project Niagara) is viable or not," said Councillor Mazza. "It'll take it off life support, or just bury it. Either way, we move forward."

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Senior Media Writer

Simon Houpt is the Globe and Mail's senior media writer, charged with covering the industry's transformation. He began his career with The Globe in 1999 as the paper's New York arts correspondent, covering the cultural life of that city through Canadian eyes. More

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