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Guide to Canadian Music Festivals

Music festival season is about to begin. Which one will you be attending this year?

You may want to do some travelling and check out some of the great music festivals taking place from coast to coast. From indie to EDM to country, there is a lineup that is guaranteed to please you. This is yoelur guide to Canadian summer music festivals and you can check it out below:

Western Canada

Keloha | Waterfront Park Kelowna, British Columbia | July | Website
Kicking off summer in the Okanagan is the Keloha Music and Arts Festival taking place in Kelowna’s Waterfront Park July 11–13. This is a weekend escape into a tropical waterfront paradise of music, arts and celebration. Across two stages, Keloha will feature some of the biggest names in indie, rock and alternative music today alongside some great up and coming talent. In addition to an already awesome lineup, Keloha also features art exhibitions and installations, interactive activities for all ages, an exhibitors village and much more.

Festival Alumni: MGMT, Atlas Genuis, Matt & Kim, Yukon Blonde, Arkells and more.

Pemberton | Pemberton, British Columbia | July | Website
Pemberton Music Festival is set for July 18-20, 2014. The festival offers both camping and traditional lodging in a stunning natural setting, for a festival experience unlike any other. Grab your friends and leave the world behind for an incomparable three-day celebration of music, art, food, dancing — and life itself.

Festival alumni: Nine Inch Nails, Coldplay, Tom Petty, Vampire Weekend and more.

Shambhala | Salmo River Valley, British Columbia | August 7-10 | Website
Shambhala Music Festival was born from a vision as grassroots as it gets. On a sunny Labour Day weekend back 1998, some 500 people gathered at the Salmo River Ranch for a party that featured local art and music. Since those early, heady days, Shambhala grew with enthusiasm by word of mouth, quickly becoming a staple event for the West Coast underground electronic music scene. Today it attracts world renowned DJs and artists and some of the most eclectic, energetic fans in the universe. Shambhala is built on Shambhalove which shines bright to this day.

Festival alumni: Big Gigantic, A-Trak, People Under The Stairs, Kairo Kingdom and more.

Rifflandia | Victoria, British Columbia | September 17-20 | Website
Rifflandia is a four-day multi-venue music festival that started back in 2008. The 72 hour long event has yet to establish a set date, occurring anywhere in the span of the last weekend of August to the last weekend of September. As time goes on, Rifflandia continues to grow in size and popularity.

Festival alumni: The Flaming Lips, Macklemore, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Death From Above 1979 and more.


Midwestern Canada

Sled Island | Calgary, Alberta | June 24-28 | Website
sled island
Sled Island is an annual music and arts festival that began in 2007. Zak Pashak, then owner of the Calgary music venue Broken City, had been inspired by Pop Montreal and the street life that ensued from the festival. Knowing that Calgary had many more artistic venues than it was usually thought to have, Pashak felt his hometown could host a similar event.

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

Calgary Folk Fest | Calgary, Alberta | July 23-26 | Website
calg folk
The Calgary Folk Music Festival has grown from a locally based one-day event to four-day extravaganza with a national and international profile and a broad, cutting-edge programming vision. The annual festival is a four-day family friendly cultural and musical jamboree at the bucolic Prince’s Island Park that celebrates over 70 artists from Alberta, Canada and the world. It is a must-attend event for music and event lovers; an essential community gathering for 53,000 Calgarians and tourists.

Festival alumni: Kurt Vile, Elliot Brood, Alabama Shakes, Bahamas, The Cat Empire and more.

Sonic Boom| Edmonton, Alberta | August 5-6 | Website
sonic boom
Since its debut in 2009, Sonic Boom has become Edmonton’s premiere alternative music outdoor event. Along with the music taking place in this three-day event comes local vendors of all kinds ready to satisfy what ever it is you’re needing.

Festival alumni: Mutemath, Silversun Pickups, Young the Giant, Linkin Park, Blink 182 and More


Edmonton Folk Fest | Edmonton, Alberta | August 7-10| Website
edmonton folk
Beginning in 1980 with one staff and 300 volunteers, the Edmonton Folk Music Festival has grown and matured to become one of the leading folk festivals in the world. Now boasting a volunteer force of over 2000, the festival in a not-for-profit society dedicated to bringing in the best of folk music from around the world. Edmonton Folk Music Festival, staged in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada in beautiful downtown Gallagher Park, happens each year in the second weekend in August.

Festival alumni: Head and the Heart, Cold Specks, John Butler Trio, The Avett Brothers and more.


Folk on the Rocks | Yellowknife, Northwest Territories | July 17-19 | Website
folk on rocks
They are one of Canada’s top summertime music and cultural festivals, drawing musicians from the NWT, Nunavut and across the globe for the North’s biggest party under the midnight sun. More than 24 hours of programming on six stages, including a children’s area, cultural area, and beer garden. Along with the music, crowds can savour international and traditional cuisine at the food fair.

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

Dawson City Music Festival | Dawson City, Yukon | July 24-26 | Website
dawson city
“Canada’s tiny, perfect Festival” has developed a reputation as one of the nation’s premiere musical events, but its strengths have remained the same: unparalleled intimacy, grassroots spirit, fabulous Klondike hospitality, and the best concerts North of 60!

Festival alumni: The Rural Alberta Advantage, Blue Rodeo, The Constantines and more.


Winnipeg Folk Festival | Winnipeg, Manitoba | July 9-12 | Website
winnipeg folk fest
The inaugural Winnipeg Folk Festival was held in 1974 as a one-time celebration to mark Winnipeg’s 100th anniversary. It was a free event and attracted an estimated audience of 22,000 over the three-day weekend. The summer festival’s cumulative attendance now exceeds 80,000 and includes thousands of visitors and performers from across North America and around the world. There are ten stages of music to explore at Folk Fest, some nestled in clearings in the woods, others in the middle of a prairie field with enough room to dance the afternoons away.

Festival alumni: City and Colour, The Avett Brothers, Serena Ryder, Whitehorse and more


Central Canada

Canadian Music Week | Toronto, Ontario | May 1-10 | Website
Now in its 32nd year, CANADIAN MUSIC WEEK is recognized as one of the premier entertainment events in North America focusing on the business of music. They bring together sound recording, new media and broadcast for one spectacular week of events combining informative, intensive conferences, a cutting edge trade exhibition, award shows, film festival, comedy festival and Canada’s biggest New Music Festival. The Canadian Music Week festival spans 5 nights of performances, with 1,000 showcasing bands at more than 60 live music venues in downtown Toronto.

Festival alumni: Stars, Metric, Rihanna, Bombay Bicycle Club, Hollerado, Shad and more.

Field Trip | Toronto, Ontario | June 6-7 | Website
Field Trip
Field Trip began in 2013 as a celebration of Arts & Crafts’ 10th anniversary, but its now in its second year as a world-class, two-day boutique music and arts festival situated in the heart of downtown Toronto. The 2014 edition will unfold across two days, programmed far beyond music to focus on highlighting the community’s best culinary offerings, as well as collaborative explorations on the themes of art, photography, technology, fashion and more.

Festival alumni: Broken Social Scene, Bloc Party, Dan Mangan, Feist, Hayden and more.

NXNE | Toronto, Ontario | June 17-21 | Website
Now in its 20th year, North by Northeast Festival and Conference (NXNE) has become the Canadian festival destination for emerging artists and major-label headliners, music filmmakers, comedians, visual, sound, and other artists, and for digital interactive innovators bridging the gap between technology and the arts. In all, NXNE runs 10 days and nights, draws over 350,000 attendees, and generates an annual economic impact of approximately $50 million in the city of Toronto.

Festival Alumni: The National, July Talk, The Flaming Lips, Of Montreal, Bad religion and more.

Scene Music Fest | St. Catherines, Ontario | June | Website
The SCENE Music Festival is a one-day music festival held in downtown St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. The event has been held annually in late June/early July since 1996. The acronym “SCENE” stands for St. Catharines Event for New Music Entertainment. The first festival in 1996 drew about 800 people and it has been growly steadily ever since.

Festival alumni: The Trews, Every Time I Die, Bedouin Soundclash, Down with Webster and more.

Ottawa Blues Fest | Ottawa, Ontario | July 9-19 | Website
bleus fest ottawa
Over the past 16 years, more than a million people have tuned in their ears and opened their hearts to some of the biggest names in the music industry. In more recent years, Bluesfest has become the Canadian version of Bonnaroo, Coachella, and/or the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage festival; all highly regarded tourist attractions and highly popular outdoor music festivals.

Festival alumni: Rush, Fun., The Tragically Hip, Belle & Sebastian, Animal Collective and more.

Festival D’ete De Quebec | Quebec City, Quebec | July 9-19 | Website
festival dete
Festival d’été is Québec City’s great music festival and Canada’s largest outdoor musical event. 1,000 artists, 300 shows, 10 stunning venues. World-renowned stars as well as up-and-coming bands in all styles: rock, hip-hop, electro, pop, reggae, world beat, and more. Québec city historical center is taken over by tens of thousands of festival-goers enjoying the unique ambiance of this urban festival

Festival Alumni: The Black Keys, Wu-Tang Clan, Weezer, Skrillex, Styx and more.

WayHome Music & Arts | Oro-Mendente, Ontario | July 24-26 | Website
Ontario’s newest camping festival, WayHome Music & Arts has promised you’ve never seen Burls Creek like this before. 45,000 people are expected per day and you’re strongly encouraged to camp out to get the full festival experience. Check out the inaugural lineup above.

Hillside Festival | Guelph, Ontario | July 24-26| Website
Hillside will be singing their hearts out at this year’s summer festival as they present to you an eclectic array of fantastic performers from well-seasoned professionals to passionate newcomers. Fresh to Hillside or fresh to the stage, they will conjure you, body and mind, into that music-revelling space that is Hillside. So live high on the food of love this July 26th to 28th on the grassy expanses of Guelph Lake Island.

Festival Alumni: July Talk, Timber Timbre, A Tribe Called Red, Hollerado, Fucked up and more.

Osheaga | Montreal, Quebec | July 31-August 2 | Website
The Osheaga Music and Arts Festival is a multi-day indie music festival that is held annually at Parc Jean-Drapeau in Montreal, Quebec every summer. The 5 different stages include the “River stage,” “Mountain Stage,” “Green Stage,” “Trees Stage” and “Zone Picnik Electronik”. Since the their debut event on labour day weekend in 2006, the festival continues to build a larger audience year after year.

Festival alumni: Mumford & Sons, Sonic Youth, Arcade Fire, Beck, The Cure and 100s more.

Time Festival | Toronto, Ontario | August 15 | Website
Starting back in 2008 and going through 2010, Time Festival as an annual one day event in Toronto. After going on a brief hiatus, Time returned to Toronto last year on July 29th. The single day, rain or shine festival will take place at Fork York Garrison Commons.

Festival alumni: Crystal Castles, Flosstradamus, A-Trak, Bangers & Mash and more

Veld | Toronto, Ontario | August 1-2 | Website
Downsview Park plays host to one of Toronto’s newest festivals, Veld. The event spans over three days and is filled with some of the biggest names that EDM has to offer. From sun up to sun down it’s one giant dance party, and the ultimate festival for fans of electronic music

Festival alumni: Deadmau5, Avicii, Steve Aoki, Bassnector and more.

Boots & Hearts | Bomanville, Ontario | August 6-9 | Website
boots and hearts
Boots and Hearts is the largest country music festival of its kind ever to be hosted on Canadian soil. It is a three-day celebration of country music where music lovers of all genres can escape from the rigors of daily life, band together with thousands of other country music fans and experience a once-in-a-lifetime event that they will never forget.

Festival alumni: Carrie Underwood, Tim Mcgraw, Kid Rock, Big & Rich and more.

Riverfest Elora | Elora, Ontario | August 14-16 | Website

The festival, held along the banks of the Grand River has come a long way since its humble beginnings just seven years ago. Following the sold out success of the last year’s festival, Riverfest Elora returns for year number seven with an extra third festival day! This means more food trucks, more arts and craft vendors, more community and of course, more music. Headliners include Metric, Sam Roberts Band, The New Pornographers, Tokyo Police Club and more.

Festival alumni: Arkells, Charles Bradley, Blue Rodeo, Dan Mangan and more.

Bestival | Toronto, Ontario | June 12-13 | Website
The long running UK festival will be making its way to Toronto for the first time this year as the first and only North American expansion. The festivities will take place on Toronto Islands with Florence & The Machine, Nas, Caribou, and more. Check out the full lineup here.

Festival Alumni: The Cure, The Beastie Boys, Bjork, Florence and The Machine and more.

Pop Montreal | Montreal, Quebec | September 16-20 | Website
pop montreal
POP Montreal is now entering its 12th year as a permanent fixture on the Montreal festival map and the international music circuit. Each year, the five-day festival presents more than 600 artists to audiences of over 50,000. Delivering a bold cross-section of art forms and events, the festival includes symposium discussions, artisan and visual art exhibitions, fashion shows, film screenings, and, of course, a few all-night parties.

Festival Alumni: Wolf Parade, Kings of Leon, Franz Ferdinand, The Weakerthans and more.

Toronto Urban Roots Festival | Toronto, Ontario | September 18-20 | Website
© Corbin Smith
With it’s inaugural event taking place in the summer of 2013, the 3 day multi-stage venue music festival continues to grow. It all takes place in the heart of Toronto at Fort York Garrison Commons with a north, south, east and west stage. The event features local food vendors from all over the city and is filled with many different genres.

Festival alumni: Arkells, She & Him, Neko Case, Flogging Molly and more.

Riot Fest | Toronto, Ontario | September 19-20 | Website
riot fest
In 2005, Riot Fest booked a multi-venue weekend of punk and rock in Chicago with bands such as Dead Kennedys, The Misfits, and The Bouncing Souls kicking things off.

Festival alumni: The Bouncing Souls, A Day To Remember, The Replacements, The Weakerthans and more.


Cavendish Beach | Cavendish, Prince Edward Island | July 10-12 | Website
cavendish beach
Cavendish Beach Music Festival is PEI’s hottest weekend of the summer. Over 30 country music acts will rock more than 70,000 visitors in the coastal community of Cavendish, Prince Edward Island this July 4-6, 2014. The festival also features the Cavendish Farms Kitchen side stage, and the Front Porch entrance stage with dozens of east coast and up and coming country artists.

Festival Alumni: Taylor Swift, Braid Paisley, Toby Keith, Keith Urban and More.

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