Warmth radiated from an inner-city park yesterday, despite an ominous veil of stormy skies overhead.

Thousands made a stretch of green space in one of Edmonton’s most notorious areas their final destination, flooding Giovanni Caboto Park for the sixth annual Heart of the City Festival.

“This area isn’t one that’s recognized for its talent and creativity, and there’s so much of it here,” said organizer Katrina Bray. “There’s so much energy and spirit.”

The festival to promote music and visual art acts as a launch pad, she said, as it’s often the first opportunity up-and-coming performers are offered to partition their passion to the public.

“A lot of people don’t have the chance to get up on stage and share their art. It’s not that they’re not phenomenal artists, we’re just trying to give them a boost.”

Nearly 75 musicians took to the festival’s two stages, filling the often sombre streets with a rhythmic heartbeat until day turned to night.

Jam space, tents and tables were provided by organizers for free and revellers were treated to all-day entertainment at no cost, Bray said, adding the festival truly is a labour of love, not profit.

Sitting in a booth framed by her colourful, original works of abstract art, painter Aynsley Nisbet expressed gratitude for the opportunity to show Edmontonians her work.

“The biggest trouble is finding who appreciates my stuff, and where to go to show people,” she said.

“Getting involved in things like this really makes me confident in being an artist.”