Guide to Ontario’s Best Summer Festivals

Hot weather and even hotter music

We’re heading into Festival season! As the weather gets hot in Ontario, some of the best outdoor festivals start popping up around the province. Here’s our guide to the can’t-miss festivals and summer concerts.

This Indie88 feature is presented with Muskoka Brewery
 

DREAMS FESTIVAL

When: June 23-24
Where: Toronto
If you’re a fan of electronic music, you’ll love the Dreams Festival. It was the first outdoor music festival to take place in downtown Toronto, and thousands of people come every year. Some of this year’s line up includes Kaskade, Richie Hawtin, and Galantis.


 

SUMMER SOLSTICE INDIGENOUS FESTIVAL

When: June 21-24
Where: Ottawa

If you’re in Ottawa, be sure to check out the Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival. This free event is full of music, food, culture, pow-wows, and film screenings. But if you can’t make it out to Ottawa, don’t worry, a very similar festival is happening right here in Toronto.

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INDIGENOUS ARTS FESTIVAL

When: June 21-24
Where: Toronto

Toronto’s Indigenous Arts Festival is a four-day event where you can learn all about Indigenous culture while enjoying traditional music. There’s no shortage of dancing, film screenings, painting, food, and storytelling. There are lots of activities happening each day, some even starting at sunrise.

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STARS AND THUNDER

When: June 24-July 1
Where: Timmins

The Stars and Thunder festival in Timmins gets bigger and better each summer. Some of this years line-up includes Bryan Addams, The Beach Boys, Arkells, and Marianas Trench. For those who want to make a road trip out of it, the festival offers many camping spots onsite.


 

DRAGON BOAT FESTIVAL

When: June 21-24
Where: Ottawa

The Dragon Boat Festival in Ottawa draws huge crowds every year. The free festival includes four days of music, food, face painting, and of course, many dragon boat races. A few of the artists this year include Broken Social Scene, Matt Mays, and Wintersleep.


 


 

TD JAZZ FESTIVAL

When: June 21-July 1
Where: Toronto, Ottawa

Both the Toronto and Ottawa Jazz festivals happen at the same time this year. There’s over 150 free concerts happening across the 10-day festival in Toronto alone. With Chaka Khan in Ottawa and Seal in Toronto, you’ve got amazing choices no matter where you are.


 

ESCAPADE

When: June 23-24
Where: Ottawa

Hosting some of the biggest names in electronic music, it’s no wonder Escapade gets more and more popular each year. The festival has expanded this summer, including not just DJs but also many hip hop artists like Ty Dolla $ign and Fetty Wap.


 

NORTHERN LIGHTS FESTIVAL BORÉAL

When: July 5-8
Where: Sudbury

Sudbury’s Northern Lights Festival Boréal is Canada’s longest, continually-running outdoor music festival. Each summer, people from all over the province show up and celebrate some of the greatest acts in Canadian music. Performers this year are Alvvays, Arkells, and Lisa Leblanc.


 

MARIPOSA FOLK FESTIVAL

When: July 6-8
Where: Orillia

The Mariposa Folk Festival is perfect for those looking for a weekend camping trip filled with great music. Plus, with nearly two dozen food vendors, you’ll never go hungry. Some of this years artists include Walk Off the Earth and Land of Talk.


 

ROCK THE PARK

When: July 11-14
Where: London

This all ages event really does have something for everyone. London’s Rock the Park is probably the only music festival around where you’ll find Machine Gun Kelly, Cindy Lauper, Naughty by Nature, and Rise Against all in once place. There’s no camping at the event, but nearby hotels are offering discounts for festival goers.


 


 

HILLSIDE FESTIVAL

When: July 13-15
Where: Guelph

Every year, the Hillside Festival promotes diversity through arts and environmentalism. A Tribe called Red and poet Robert Priest are just two of this years most-anticipated acts at the festival. There are also many artisans and food vendors.


 

RBC BLUESFEST

When: July 5-15
Where: Ottawa

Every year, Bluesfest is one of Ottawa’s most popular and anticipated events. With a diverse lineup, some of this years must-see artists include Brockhampton, Shawn Mendes, and Foo Fighters. There’s no camping at the festival but there are plenty of hotels nearby for multiple-day attendees.


 

The National w/ Father John Misty

When: August 4
Where: Toronto

Call it a concert, call it a festival — we aren’t exactly sure what it is, but what we do know it this will be one of the summer’s can’t-miss events. The National are coming to Toronto this summer, bringing along Father John Misty, Jenny Lewis, Julien Baker and Dan Edmonds to perform at the scenic Garrison Commons in Fort York.

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VELD

When: August 4-5
Where: Toronto

Downsview Park here in Toronto has been hosting VELD for the past seven years. Over 30 thousand people showed up the the last one, and this years festival is expected to have even more people. And with artists like DJ Snake, Martin Garrix, and Migos, it’s easy to see why tons of people show up.


 

BOOTS AND HEARTS

When: August 9-12
Where: Oro-Medonte

Each year, thousands of country music fans rejoice for Boots and Hearts. Some artists this year are Florida Georgia Line, Alan Jackson, and Thomas Rhett. There’s also a huge campsite attached to the festival grounds, so feel free to bring your tent or trailer.


 

RIVERFEST ELORA

When: August 17-19
Where: Elora

Riverfest Elora is easily one of Ontario’s best-kept secrets. Hidden in the small town of Elora, every August the festival hosts dozens of musicians, vendors, and artisans. This years line up includes Carly Rae Jepsen, The Flaming Lips, and July Talk.


 

CAMP WAVELENGTH

When: August 18-19
Where: Toronto

This year, Camp Wavelength is changing venues, moving to Garrison Commons, directly adjacent to Fort York National Historic Site. This years line up includes Suuns, TOPS, and Chad VanGaalen. Perfect for those looking for a smaller festival inside the city.

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SANDBANKS MUSIC FESTIVAL

When: September 15th
Where: Picton

The summer finishes off with the Sandbanks Music Festival. Located in one of Ontario’s best provincial parks, the festival is perfect for anyone looking to camp out on the beach. This year features performances by Wintersleep, Gianna Lauren, Listen up Kid, and more.