Virgin Festival Setting Sail For Toronto, Baltimore

Billionaire Richard Branson rappelled from a helicopter at Toronto's waterfront today to announce a rock festival for Canada's most populous city this fall.

Billionaire Richard Branson rappelled from a helicopter at Toronto's waterfront today to announce a rock festival for Canada's most populous city this fall. The flamboyant British businessman, who is chairman of Virgin Group, said he's bringing the Virgin Festival to Toronto's Island Park on Sept. 9-10.

"Our roots are music," Branson, dressed in a subdued black promotional T-shirt and blue jeans, told a news conference. "Fortunately, we spent a number of years in Britain practicing on the Brits before we came here."

The Toronto event, which Branson hopes will attract 50,000 fans, will feature more than 40 acts, including Massive Attack, Flaming Lips and Gnarls Barkley, the Raconteurs, Phoenix, Wolfmother, the Dears, Alexisonfire, Sam Roberts Band and Zero 7.

The festival is the latest foray into the Canadian market for Branson, who launched his Virgin Mobile Canada last year. He said Virgin Mobile has some 250,000 subscribers now and he expects that to grow to 400,000 by the end of the year as the company opens sales kiosks across Canada.

A U.S. edition of the festival will be held Sept. 23 at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, home of the Preakness Stakes. The Red Hot Chili Peppers will anchor the lineup, which will be announced in full on July 10.


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