Thousands of British Columbians will be descending on Washington State's Columbia River Basin this weekend for an annual event that can only be likened to a religious experience for hard-core music fans: Sasquatch.

Now in its ninth year, the Sasquatch! Music Festival, held at the Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Washington, draws people from all across the U.S. and beyond, including those from B.C. who travel six hours or more through America's Pacific Northwest to the picturesque site.

With this year's show featuring almost 100 big-name acts, including Public Enemy, Massive Attack, She & Him, Vampire Weekend, The National, LCD Soundsystem, MGMT and Ween, the festival has something for everyone and is only likely to disappoint people who don't take kindly to three days of camping in a crowded field with no shower.

Both little-known and well-established British Columbian performers have secured billings in the show, which runs from Saturday through Monday. B.C.-based identical twins Tegan Quin and Sara Quin, better known as the Indie darlings Tegan and Sara, are prominent in Sunday's showcase, as are Vancouver's The New Pornographers, who are currently touring to promote their fifth album, Together.

A first-time act to grace the Sasquatch stages is Victoria's Jets Overhead.

Vocalist Adam Kittredge, still reeling after playing California's massive Coachella Festival last month, told even being included in the lineup is "an epic experience."

"It's exciting that a lot of local people from [Vancouver] Island and Vancouver and fans are going down," he said.

"It's really cool to know there will be some friendly faces. It'll be really nice to have people singing along to our songs."

Piers Henwood, Tegan and Sara's band manager, says along with Coachella and Bonnaroo, Sasquatch has become an important destination festival in North America.

"It is one of the premiere events in the Pacific Northwest and an important industry indicator for bands, agents and managers," he told

"The UK has always had Glastonbury and Redding, and now North America has a festival culture of its own that is growing and thriving, thanks to the likes of Sasquatch," said Piers Henwood, manager of Tegan and Sara.

Richmond high school teacher Anil Sharma has been photographing the festival professionally for four years, including two for CTV British Columbia. He says what makes the festival extraordinary is the natural outdoor setting.

"No place has the backdrop this does," Sharma said.

Or the intimacy. With only 18,000 tickets sold -- less than a typical arena concert at Vancouver's GM Place and only a third of the ticket capacity at the cavernous BC Place Stadium -- fans are given the rare opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the biggest bands in the world.

"You can actually see a band that you love and get right up to the front and see them," said Sharma. "It's amazing."

Sharma believes it's the mix of international acts and up-and-coming talent that encourages British Columbians to make the long journey. Past acts have included R.E.M, Nine Inch Nails, The Cure, Kings of Leon, Beastie Boys and Coldplay.

"It's just a really good eclectic mix," Sharma said.

"We don't have anything like this at home."

The Pemberton Music Festival, which brought in heavyweights Tom Petty and Jay-Z to farmland north of Whistler in its inaugural installment in 2008, fizzled out a year later after Live Nation failed to obtain land permits for the sprawling Mount Currie site. It was cancelled again this year over a rumoured rift with local officials.

So, for the foreseeable future at least, B.C. music lovers must continue to flock to the U.S. to get the big summer festival experience.

It's something Jets Overhead's Kittridge is betting his band will cash in on.

"There's no doubt we'll see increased comments on our fan sites and sell more albums in the States after Sasquatch," he said.

"And in the internet age when almost no one buys records anymore, that's always great news."