Canada’s Must-See Summer Music Festivals

When summer finally hits in the Great White North, it blooms into a music festival paradise. From Osheaga in Montreal to NXNE in Toronto to the folk festivals out West, this land was made for music fans.

Here are some of the key sites where you can catch a wealth of exciting musical acts from June until August:

Fest: NXNE
Where: Toronto
When: June 10-16th
Who: Big Boi, The National, Fucked Up, Calexico, Coeur de Pirate, FLAG, Millencolin, Supersuckers, and a ton more of eclectic, lesser known acts.
Cost: A wristband for the entire fest is $60 +tax (and a guarantee that you don’t pay a cover for a show). A priority pass, which gets you a front-of-the-line priority, is $275, and $150 for students. The cost is $30 for a day wristband.

NXNE has been a staple of the TO-summertime for almost 20 years. The lineup features well-known acts and emerging artists about to hit it big. Past acts have included The Flaming Lips, Iggy Pop and The Stooges, De La Soul, Broken Social Scene, Bad Religion and countless others. Shows are spread out across a multitude of clubs and free shows can be glimpsed at Dundas Square (where you can often catch the bigger acts.) It also features a film fest, comedy and art events and an interactive digital conference as well as fascinating lectures and workshops.

For more info:

Fest: Ottawa Bluesfest
Where: Lebreton Flats Park, Ottawa, Ontario
When: July 4-8, and 10th-14th
Who: Bjork, Wu Tang Clan, Tegan and Sara, Tragically Hip, Fun., Stars, Alejandro Escovedo, BB King, Rush, Solange, Animal Colletive, El-P, Weezer, Eric Burdon, The Dixie Chicks, and many more.
Cost: A day Pass is 40$ and a full 10-day pass is $304.

The title “Bluesfest” is misleading here; the festival has over 200 artists of every musical genre under the sun and can satisfy virtually any musical preference. Like NXNE, the fest is closing in on its 20th year -it first kicked off in 1994, and is now one of the most popular musical events in Ontario. Also one of the longest music festivals (it takes place over 10 days!) In addition to the solid musical lineup, the fest also hosts charity auctions and an autograph tent, where fans can get have a meet and greet with their fave artists.

For more info:

Fest: Osheaga
Where: Parc Jean Drapeau, Montreal, Quebec
When: Aug 2nd -4th
Who: The Cure, Mumford and Sons, Pheonix, Vampire Weekend, The Lumineers, New Order, Azealia Banks, Big Boi, Kendrick Lamar, Hollerado, Frightened Rabbit, and many more.
Cost: $235 for a 3-day pass.

Hot indie acts, fresh hiphop and some old school stuff thrown in, all at the outdoor venue of Parc Jean Drapeau, in la belle province. Although you can’t catch all of the acts due to conflicts of time, the stages are all fairly close together, so you don’t have to scramble as much to get from one act to another. Have a poutine and a beer while you listen to your favorite bands play in the sun all day long.

For more info:

Fest: Montreal Jazz Fest
Where: Downtown Montreal
When: June 28-July 7th
Who: She and Him, Camera Obscura, Belle and Sebastian, Aretha Franklin, Esperanza Spalding, The Cat Empire, Dr.John, Ladysmith Black Mombazo, Oliver Jones and many more.
Cost: Varies, according to the show. Outdoor shows are often free.

Like the Ottawa Blues Fest, this festival lines up artists of every musical category. It’s still fairly heavy on the Jazz, but there are countless other types of acts to catch as well. Mill about downtown around St Catherine and Bleury streets, and you are sure to glimpse a free show or two, during the sexy Montreal nighttime or on a sunny après-midi.

For more info:

Fest: Squamish Valley Music Festival
Where: Squamish, BC (about 45 minutes from Vancouver)
When: August 8, 9, 10
Who: Queens of the Stone Age, Vampire Weekend, Band of Horses, Childish Gambino, Dan Mangan, Jurassic 5, Diamond Rings and Scratch Bastid.
Cost: 3 days, $149, $89-$129 for a single day pass and $80 per person additionally if you are camping (or $100 for camping pass with parking.)

Camp out and see your favorite bands in the BC wilderness. Known as the outdoor recreation capital of Canada, Squamish is not too far from Vancouver and close-ish to Whistler as well. Features a wealth of hiking trails and gorgeous mountain scenery. What more could you ask for?

For more info:

Fest: Sled Island Festival
Where: Calgary, Alberta
When: June 19-22
Who: Jesus and Mary Chain, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Joel Plaskett Emergency, Superchunk, Metz, Mac De Marco, Unknown Mortal Orchestra.
Cost: The Festival Discovery Pass, an all-access pass for the 4 days, is $199 and the Festival Discovery Plus Pass, which gets you front-of-the-line access, entry to the artist’s lounge and festival swag, is $349. Single Day tickets not yet available.

The Sled Island Festival was inspired by the Montreal music fest, Pop Montreal, when a Calgary music venue-owner decided to create a similar music and arts festival. Now in its 7th year, it features more than 250 music acts, as well as comedy, film and art events, in over 30 venues across the city.

For more info:

Fest: Edmonton Folk Fest
Where: Gallagher Park, Edmonton, AB
When: August 8-11
Who: Cold Specks, Bahamas, Neko Case, Bruce Cockburn, The Head and the Heart, Emmylou Harris, Arrested Development, Martin Sexton, Ladysmith Black Mambazo,The Barr Brothers and a ton of folk and roots-based acts.
Cost: Tickets for this year’s festival go on sale June 1st, at 9am.

A must-see for fans acoustic-based music. Considered to be a leading folk festival on the world’s stage. The fest was born in 1980, and is still an institution in Alberta. Past performers include many famed folk/rootsy singers hailing from Canada and beyond, including Sarah Harmer, kd Lang, Lyle Lovett, Andrew Bird and loads of other major talents. The fest is international, yet still has a requisite level of can-con.

For more info:

Fest: Winnipeg Folk Festival
Where: Bird’s Hill Provincial Park, Winnipeg, Manitoba
When: July 10th-14th
Cost: Early bird: before May 1s. $215 for 5 day ticket for adults, $275 for share pack.
Who: Serena Ryder, The Avett Brothers, Rich Aucoin, Jason Collett, City and Colour, Indigo Girls and more.

At 40 years old, this fest is one of the oldest in our home and native land. It started out as a free 3-day weekend festival that commemorated Winnipeg’s 100th anniversary, and has evolved into a community based organization that puts on concerts and workshops all year long in Winnipeg. Past performers have included musical giants Judy Collins, Jimmy Cliff, and Jeff Tweedy and Canuck greats Bruce Cockburn, Sarah Harmer, and Broken Social Scene’s Jason Collett among many others.

For more info:

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