Kelowna’s Center of Gravity festival kicks off today

The annual summer music and sports festival runs until Sunday in Kelowna's City Park.

The annual Center of Gravity music and sports festival starts today and runs through Sunday.

Center of Gravity is ready to rock, roll and entertain in Kelowna’s City Park.

The annual summer music and sports festival—celebrating its ninth year—kicks off today, rain or shine.

And while Environment Canada says the forecast may not be for typical July beach weather in the Okanagan this weekend, organizers say they aren’t worried.

“It’ll be a great time,” said Megan Anderson, event promoter with Wet Ape Productions.

As of Thursday afternoon, the weather forecast called for sun and clouds today with a high of 24 C, rain Saturday with a high of 22 C and sunshine on Sunday with a high of 24 C.

Anderson said while ticket sales have been strong this year, she expects there will still be some tickets available at the gate.

Last year, the festival attracted 24,000 people over the three-day run.

The musical line-up organizers say is what they consider the best ever, featuring headliners rapper Ice Cube and electronic music artists Afrojack and Skrillex.

But also cited is the sports component expected to draw competitors in events including wakeboarding, beach and grass volleyball, BMX, skateboarding, freestyle motocross, and basketball. There will also be interactive sports, including Zorb soccer and “gauntlet” games.

This year, Wet Ape has done all it can to maximize its use of space in City Park for the myriad of events both on land and on the water.

“The city only gives us so much space in City Park, so we’re always tweaking it,” said Anderson, who described the park as “an awesome and kick-ass” location.

With CoG taking over a large part of City Park this weekend, access to the park for those not going to the festival will be limited. But the city says some parts will remain open to pedestrians and there will be access routes around the fenced-off festival grounds.

Areas of the park that will be closed to general public during CoG include the beach volleyball and basketball courts, the large sports field and part of Hot Sands Beach, as well as the parking lot.

The south end of the lakefront promenade will be closed during the event and the public is asked to use the walkway that runs from the tunnel under Highway 97 along the south end of the park to Abbott Street. The pedestrian tunnel will remain open.

Abbott Street between Bernard Avenue and Leon Avenue and Bernard Avenue between Abbott and Water Streets will be closed nightly tonight, tomorrow and Sunday from 9:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. to accommodate ticket holders exiting the festival grounds.

Twenty-four hour parking restrictions will be imposed in the Abbott Street neighbourhood south of the highway as well, as on Knox Crescent and Beach Avenue from today to Monday.

CoG is one of the biggest summer festivals the city hosts and it annually draws a large number of young people to the city from the Lower Mainland, the B.C. Interior, and Alberta.

But along with the  economic value to the city, the venue also has costs associated with security and clean-up of concern both to the city and the promoter.

The dates of the event have also changed over the years.

Anderson said in the past some of the dates used have meant CoG ran up against other popular summer festivals in B.C.

But she said holding it this weekend seems to have avoided that issue this year.