The In The Dead of Winter Music Festival has a simple objective.

“The objective is to bring good music to a Halifax audience in the dead of winter, like when there’s not much going on,” says one of the festival’s organizers, Tanya Davis. “We want to bring quality programming and music for people to come out to in the slow, quiet months when it’s cold...”

Now in its fifth year, the festival has grown from its humble beginnings at the Khyber Club as a three-day festival in 2006.

“Generally, the biggest changes are that it has grown in size and awareness,” says Davis. “The festival has grown in popularity. We have some people coming to watch the festival from as far away as Washington, D.C.”

Taking place at five venues this year, the festival starts Tuesday and runs until Jan. 30. Around 50 artists will perform this year, including Grammy Award-winner Ani DiFranco. She’s playing a sold-out show at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium on the opening night of the festival.

Other acts include C.R. Avery. “He’s kind of a poet beatboxer type actually, but he plays with a band,” says Davis. “The last time I saw him, he had a few string players with him. He beatboxes sometimes through a harmonica.”

John K. Samson will also be coming to town. He’s better known as the frontman for The Weakerthans, a Juno-nominated band. “His solo stuff is just awesome,” says Davis.

Local acts performing at the festival include Ruth Minnikin, Paper Beat Scissors and Thom Swift.

Davis describes the festival as a listening festival. “We book artists that encourage the audience to sit and listen, not talk and drink,” she says. We’re showcasing the music.”

This year’s festival will also feature four workshops, including one on harmony. This will be put on by Rose Cousins, The Good Lovelies and Don Brownrigg. “They’re all kind of harmony gurus,” says Davis.

The workshops are $10 or are free for pass holders and participating musicians.

This is Davis’ fourth year volunteering at the festival. “I get to see a lot of music,” she says, “at least in five-minute spurts while I am running around.”