2016 Guide to Canadian Music Festivals

Plan your coast to coast #FestivalSummer accordingly

Expedia
 
 
As the music festival season kicks off, you may be wondering which ones to venture to this summer. This list includes festivals from all over Canada that feature a wide variety of genres, from folk and rock to hip hop and EDM. With Canada’s diverse musical culture and beautiful landscape, each festival offers something unique.
 

CENTRAL CANADA
 

Canadian Music Week

TORONTO, ON | MAY 2-8

cmw

Heading into its 34th year, Canadian Music Week (CMW) spans over 10 nights of performances and hosts tons of bands at over 60 live music venues in Toronto. This festival is known across Canada to be one of the best for networking and showcasing emerging artists. CMW’s repertoire is huge; not only a music festival, CMW hosts awards shows, film, interactive, and comedy festivals, as well as informative conferences that are great for those looking to learn more about the business. Running early in May, CMW serves as the perfect kickoff to the summer festival season. Check out this year’s lineup so far!

Festival alumni: Alvvays, Death Cab for Cutie, Billy Talent, Lights, The Flatliners and More
 

CBC Music Festival

TORONTO, ON | MAY 28

cbc

(Photo by CBC Music’s Facebook)

This one-day event is located at Echo Beach and carries an all-Canadian lineup. The CBC Music Festival is a great option for those looking for a weekend day trip—for 40 dollars, anyone can enjoy a full day of solid music by the lake.

Festival alumni: Bahamas, The Strumbellas, Tegan and Sara, Spoon and More
 

Field Trip

TORONTO, ON | JUNE 4-5

Feildtrip

A great family-friendly festival located at Fort York Garrison Common, Field Trip isn’t just a music festival—it’s also an exploration of food, fashion, photography, art, comedy and more. The Field Trip marketplace provides a unique experience for those interested in interacting with local designers and artisans. This festival runs over a jam-packed and full two days, making for an excellent option for a quick summer escape. Check out this year’s lineup!

Festival alumni: Alabama Shakes, Father John Misty, Arkells, Half Moon Run, BadBadNotGood and More
 

Bestival

TORONTO, ON | JUNE 11-12

bestival

(Photo via Bestival’s Facebook)

Hosted at Woodbine Park in Toronto this year, Bestival is the first North American outpost of the UK fest, starting last year on the Toronto Island. Running over the span of two days, Bestival is known for its bold and bright visual attractions and eccentric stage designs.

Festival alumni: Flume, Nas, Florence + the Machine, Keys N Krates, Flosstradamus and More
 

NXNE

TORONTO, ON | JUNE 15-19

nxne

One of Toronto’s biggest music events, North by Northeast Festival and Conference (NXNE) runs over a span of five days in the summer and attracts emerging and established artists from all over the country. Now in its 22nd year, NXNE hones a wide range of talent, from musicians to filmmakers to comedians and more. Made up of a collection of venues in Toronto, from hole-in-the-wall pubs to bigger venues, NXNE (also called ‘North by’) will run this year from June 15-19.

Festival alumni: The National, St. Vincent, The Flaming Lips, Broken Social Scene, The New Pornographers and More
 

Amnesia Rockfest

MONTEBELLO, QC | JUNE 23-26

amnesia

(Photo via Amneisa Rockfest’s Facebook)

Created in 2005 by a 17-year-old kid, Rockfest has become one of the largest rock music festivals in Canada. Located less than an hour away from Ottawa in the countryside, Rockfest offers camping, as well as travelling options for those who don’t have a vehicle.

Festival alumni: System of a Down, Linkin Park, The Offspring, Blink-182, Weezer, Alice in Chains and More
 

Digital Dreams

TORONTO, ON | JULY 2-3|

DigitalDreams

(Photo via Digital Dreams’ Instagram)

Held on Canada Day Weekend, Bud Light Digital Dreams was rained out last year, so electronic fans are crossing their fingers that the weather holds up this year. Digital Dreams is one of the most popular electronic music festivals in Ontario, and always makes for a great long-weekend adventure.

Festival alumni: The Chainsmokers, Flux Pavillion, Porter Robinson, Tiësto and More
 

D’été de Quebec

QUEBEC CITY, QC | JULY 7-17

quebec

(Photo via D’été de Quebec’s Instagram)

Located in downtown Quebec City, Le Festival d’été de Quebec hosts 11 days of music, with 300 shows and 10 venues. With a similar mission to CMW, D’été de Quebec features a lineup of independent artists alongside bigger-name artists to offer a diverse musical lineup.

Festival alumni: Foo Fighters, Keith Urban, Iron Maiden, The Black Keys, The Rolling Stones and More
 

Ottawa Bluesfest

OTTAWA, ON | JULY 7-17

bluesfest

(Photo via RBC Blues Fest Facebook)

The RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest aims to showcase local, regional, national, and international talent over an eleven-day event in the City of Ottawa. Not only featuring blues, this festival also features genres such as alternative, rock, jazz, funk, soul, rap, folk, and urban. Offering single and full-weekend passes, there are hotels nearby for those travelling from outside of the city. Check out this year’s lineup.

Festival alumni: Rush, The Tragically Hip, Run the Jewels, Chance the Rapper and More
 

WayHome

ORO-MEDONTE, ON | JULY 22-24

Wayhome754

Heading into its second year running, WayHome opened its doors to Ontario in July 2015 and exceeded all expectations. In less than two years, this festival has built a reputation for having the best announcement techniques, for hosting a solid lineup now two years in a row, and for being fun as hell. This year’s WayHome festival will run from July 22-24, and offers tent and RV campsites, as well as hotel packages. Check out this year’s lineup!

Festival alumni: Kendrick Lamar, Sam Smith, Neil Young, Alvvays, Run the Jewels, and more
 

Hillside

GUELPH, ON | JULY 22-24

Wayhome754

(Photo by Hillside’s Facebook)

Held at the Guelph Lake Conservation, Hillside is a staple in Guelph’s music culture and has been around for more than 30 years. With five stages and a reputation for being one of Canada’s most environmentally conscious events, Hillside offers a variety of green initiatives, including the use of reusable dishes by its vendors, a ban on plastic water bottles, solar-powered stage, and a green roof on its main stage. Guests are also encouraged to ride their bikes to the festival. Though the location is great, it’s the people at Hillside that make the festival what it is.

Festival alumni: Hey Rosetta!, Hollerado, Terra Lightfoot, The Strumbellas, July Talk and More
 

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Osheaga

MONTREAL, QC | JULY 29-31

osheaga

(Photo via Osheaga’s Facebook)

Osheaga Music and Arts festival is an indie music festival in Montreal that runs a series of exhibitions and concerts that lead up to the three day event. Last year, Osheaga attracted over 135,000 guests from all over North America and Europe, making if one of the biggest musical festivals in Canada. Offering a number of hotel rooms for accommodations, this festival is a Canadian favourite. Check out this year’s lineup!

Festival alumni: Sonic Youth, Eminem, Jack White, The Cure, The Black Keys, Kendrick Lamar and More

 

Boots and Hearts

ORO-MEDONTE, ON | AUGUST 4-7

BootsHearts

(Photo by Boots & Hearts’ Facebook)

Birthed by the same people that gave life to WayHome, Boots and Hearts is a four-day country music festival also held in Oro-Medonte, Ont. This festival began in 2012 and was originally held at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville. Since then, it has grown to be among the most loved country music festivals in Canada.

Festival alumni: Brad Paisley, Eric Church, Carrie Underwood, Kid Rock, Tim McGraw, Sheryl Crow and More
 

Riverfest Elora

TORONTO, ON | AUGUST 19-21

Riverfest-Elora

(Photo by Riverfest Elora’s Website)

Located along the gorgeous banks of the Grand River in Elora, Ontario, Riverfest Elora is quickly becoming one of Ontario’s most sought-after destination festivals. Founded in 2009 by Elora artist Marilyn Koop who passed away in 2012, the festival continues in her honor, now going into it’s seventh year. Camp out in this weekend long celebration of music, arts, food and culture, with some of Canada’s most celebrated indie artists.

Festival alumni: Metric, Sam Roberts, The Wooden Sky, Tokyo Police Club and more
 

Camp Wavelength

TORONTO, ON | AUGUST 19-21

CampWL

(Photo by Wavelength’s Facebook)

Founded by Toronto arts collective Wavelength Music and dedicated to nourishing local musical culture, Camp Wavelength is an intimate and unique festival located on Toronto Island. The festival is brand new, with its first run in 2015, and is the only Toronto music festival that offers camping. This year holds high expectations, as we can only anticipate that this festival will continue to grow in popularity. Save-the-date and check out more info here.

Festival alumni: Dirty Frigs, Wooden Sky, Doomsquad, Absolutely Free, LIDS and More
 

Mad Decent Block Party

TORONTO, ON | AUGUST

maddeceny

(Photo by Mad Decent Block Party’s Facebook)

This one-day electronic festival is located at the Fort York Garrison Common. Mad Decent hosts 22 shows in 19 cities, and usually makes a stop in Toronto sometime in August. Mad Decent has yet to release any details for 2016.

Festival alumni: Diplo, Major Lazer, Riff Raff, Keys N Krates, Zeds Dead and More
 

TURF

TORONTO, ON | SEPTEMBER 14-19

TURF

Toronto Urban Roots Festival (TURF) is great for a summer festival wrap up in September. Running from September 14-19, TURF carries three stages and is nestled in Fort York Garrison Common, making for an authentic Toronto experience. Single day and full weekend passes are available, and VIP passes are just about the same cost of a general admission pass for any other festival. TURF is a cozy festival and continues to grow each year, while always boasting an awesome lineup.

Festival alumni: The Strumbellas, The Elwins, Of Monsters & Men, Pixies, and More
 

Riot Fest

TORONTO, ON | TBD

riotfest

Located at Downsview Park, Riot Fest and Exposition is a multi-day festival that runs in Chicago, Denver, and Toronto. This festival specializes in punk, rock, alternative, metal, and hip hop, and carries carnival rides and awesome festival food. With rumours that this year’s Toronto festival might not happen, 2016 dates have not yet been announced, though we are crossing our fingers.

Festival alumni: Wu-Tang Clan, Billy Talent, Weezer, Alexisonfire, All Time Low, The National, The Cure and More
 

Pop Montreal

MONTREAL, QC | SEPTEMBER 21-25

POpMTL

(Photo via Pop Montreal’s Facebook)

Delivering a five-day event, Pop Montreal is a heavy supporter of independent music, and the festival also includes symposiums, visual art exhibitions, fashion shows, film screenings, and afterparties. Pop Montreal attracts over 50,000 guests and caters to over 400 artists.

Festival alumni: Fast Romantics, Ivory Hours, Wolf Parade, Kings of Leon and More

 
 

WEST COAST
 

Pemberton

PEMBERTON, BC | JULY 14-17

Pemberton

(Photo by Pemberton’s Facebook)

Located on the west coast, an escape to Pemberton Music Festival can easily turn into a longstanding vacation in BC. This festival is settled in a beautiful location with a breathtaking view of BC’s mountain ranges.

Festival alumni: Kendrick Lamar, The Black Keys, Missy Elliott, Kid Cudi, Passion Pit and More
 

Shambhala

SALMO RIVER RANCH, BC | AUGUST 5-8

Shambala

(Photo by Shambala’s Facebook)

Shambhala Music Festival was born in 1998, when about 500 people gathered at the Salmo River Ranch for a local music and art party. Since then, it has blossomed into a widely loved Canadian festival. This electronic festival features six stages that are best seen lit-up at night. The ranch is quiet and out of the way, making for a peaceful spot to host a bright and fun festival with attractive displays and picturesque natural views.

Festival alumni: Pretty Lights, Skrillex, Bassnectar, Grandtheft, Moby and More
 

Rifflandia Festival

VICTORIA, BC | SEPTEMBER 15-18

Rifflandia

(Photo by Rifflandia’s Facebook)

Rifflandia Music Festival is a four-day multi-venue festival that began in 2008. This is an indie music festival books over 20 venues and continues to gain popularity each summer.

Festival alumni: Modest Mouse, Kiesza, Mother Mother, Tokyo Police Club, Joey Bada$$ and More

 

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MID-WEST
 

Sled Island

CALGARY, AB | JUNE 22-26

Sledisland

(Photo by Sled Island’s Facebook)

Sled Island Music and Arts Festival is an annual indie music event that began in 2007. This five-day music and arts festival brings in over 300 bands each year, as well as over 40,000 guests. This is a multi-venue event, with over 35 venues. Accommodations for this event include special packages from surrounding Calgary hotels.

Festival alumni: Explosions in the Sky, Joel Plaskett, Mac Demarco, John K. Samson and More.
 

Calgary Folk Fest

CALGARY, AB | JULY 21-24

calgaryfolk

(Photo by Calgary Folk Fest’s Instagram)

The Calgary Folk Music Festival is held at Prince’s Island Park and brings together independent artists from Mauritania, Korea, New Zealand, Australia, the UK, Ethiopia, the United States and Canada. This festival is over 30 years old and features 11 stages with over 52, 000 attendees every July.

Festival alumni: Neko Case, The Avett Brothers, Iron & Wine, Elvis Costello, Alabama Shakes and More
 

Edmonton Folk Fest

EDMONTON, AB | AUGUST 4-7

edmontonfolk

(Photo by haleywiberg’s Instagram)

The Edmonton Folk Music Festival is a four-day outdoor event that was established in 1980. This festival showcases performers in a variety of genres, including bluegrass, blues, gospel, and roots. With food vendors, six stages, and creative workshops, this festival is suitable for all ages and has become an iconic part of Edmonton’s culture.

Festival alumni: Van Morrison, Neko Case, The Avett Brothers, Cold Specks, Joni Mitchell and More
 

Sonic Boom

EDMONTON, AB | SEPTEMBER 3-4

sonicboo,

(Photo by Sonic Boom’s Instagram)

Sonic Boom is Edmonton’s indie music festival, and serves as an opportunity to get to know Edmonton’s culture, as well as enjoy a healthy lineup of music. This is a two-day event that celebrates indie and pop rock music, while also providing an array of food vendors and shopping opportunities.

Festival alumni: Alexisonfire, Ellie Goulding, Hozier, Mother Mother, Tokyo Police Club and More

 
 

PRAIRIES
 

Winnipeg Folk Fest

WINNIPEG, MB | JULY 7-10

winnipegfolk

(Photo by Winnipeg Folk Festival’s Facebook)

Folk Fest features ten music stages and a Prairie Outdoor Exhibition that carries award-winning food vendors, as well as a Hand-Made Village where artisans sell anything from jewellery to clothing. Folk Fest is the biggest outdoor festival in the Canadian prairies and aims to deliver friendly, all around good vibes to all who visit.

Festival alumni: Serena Ryder, City and Colour, Jesse Cook, Elliott Brood and More

 
 

MARITIMES
 

Cavendish Beach

CAVENDISH, PEI | JULY 8-10

Cavendish

(Photo by Cavendish Beach’s Facebook)

Cavendish Beach Music Festival is a multi-day outdoor event that attracts over 70,000 visitors annually. This festival pulls in big country music acts, and offers camping, dining, and swimming. This festival has been named one of the top festivals in Canada on multiple occasions, and continues to grow and thrive each year.

Festival alumni: Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Taylor Swift, Brad Paisley and More
 

Evolve

ANTIGONISH, NS | JULY 8-10

evolve

(Photo by Evolve Festival’s Instagram)

Evolve is dedicated to promoting sustainable living and environmental awareness. The Evolve Music and Awareness Festival is an annual three day event that uses renewable energy sources, recycled and biodegradable products, and limits solid waste as much as possible. This festival began in 2000 and features the heartwarming scenery and vibes of Nova Scotia.

Festival alumni: Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, The Trews, Hey Rosetta!, Pretty Lights, Keys N Krates and More

 
 

TERRITORIES
 

Folk on the Rocks

YELLOWKNIFE, NWT | JULY 15-17

Folkontherocks

(Photo by Folk on the Rocks’ Facebook)

This three-day festival is situated on the shores of Long Lake and has become a top cultural experience in Canada. Folk on the Rocks draws performers in from all over the world, and features six stages, a beer garden and traditional cuisine. This festival is run by a sturdy and determined team of over 400 volunteers.

Festival alumni: Said the Whale, Hey Ocean!, The Grapes of Wrath, Hayden and More
 

Dawson City

DAWSON CITY, YT | JULY 22-24

Dawsoncity

(Photo by Dawson City Festival’s Facebook)

This humble music festival has grown from a minor weekend barbeque to a full-blown music festival located in Canada’s beautiful Yukon. Due to renovations, this year’s festival is set to feature quaint performances and workshops in intimate and unique venues.

Festival alumni: Blue Rodeo, The Constantines, Molly Sweeney, Born Ruffians and More

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