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Who hasn’t daydreamed about being in a touring band? Get on the road (or the runway) this summer and check out a couple of Canada’s music festivals instead—it’s the next best thing to being in a band (and takes way less practice). Here are eight fests to travel to before the year is over—and why you shouldn’t miss them.
When record label Arts & Crafts turned 10 they decided to throw themselves a festival-sized birthday party to celebrate. That one great party inspired a yearly tradition where some of the biggest artists in the world come to Toronto for two days of music, art, and food in an awesome and historical outdoor venue: Fort York. This year’s lineup includes headliners Phoenix and Fiest. Field Trip takes place June 3 and 4.
Why drive an hour(ish) outside of Toronto to Guelph? Because Hillside. If it’s an outdoor festival with more good vibes than a herd of unicorns galloping across a rainbow that you want, welcome. Not only does Hillside book a variety of big names and up-and-comers, they’re probably also the most environmentally friendly fest in Canada with solar-powered stages, reusable dishes, and a bike-friendly transit network. Check out Hillside July 14 to 16.
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The number one reason go to Osheaga? This year, it’s the lineup. The three-day music festival in Montreal has curated a list of performers so good we could cry. The Weeknd, Muse, Lorde, Solange, Major Lazer, The Shins, Run the Jewels and Broken Social Scene are among the dozens of bands that will be hanging around Parc Jean-Drapeau from August 4 to 6. #Osheaga4ever
Yeah, outdoor summer fests like Osheaga are awesome but where do you go to get your indie band fix once tank top weather is over? Back to Montreal. Everyone from Patti Smith to Nick Cave have played Pop but the best part is seeing little-known bands before they blow up. The multi-venue festival runs September 13 to 17 this year.
Sackville, NB’s SappyFest is on par with Pop Montreal for being an excellent place to scout out rising talent. If you want to be the person who hears everyone’s next favourite indie band first, go. The festival turns 12 this year and kicks off August 4 and runs all weekend. Take the train there. You won’t regret it.
With one installation in Winnipeg and another in Edmonton, this relatively new festival run by label Six Shooter Records is already drawing big names. Previous years’ selection of artists included St. Vincent, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Sinead O’Connor, Wilco, and Father John Misty. The vibe at Interstellar is pure celebration, so come ready to party and to dance. Dates for this summer’s concerts have been revealed (July 21-23 in Edmonton and August 18-20 in Winnipeg) but the lineup is still under wraps.
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Folk On The Rocks
In case the Northern Lights and staggering natural beauty aren’t enough to get you to Yellowknife, Folk on the Rocks, held July 14 to 16, might be the thing that gets you to buy a plane ticket. This is Canada, so of course the festival takes place on the shores of a lake (Long Lake, specifically) and has that great camping vibe, even if you’re not camping. FOTR’s slogan is “Where the road ends, the music begins.” Sounds like an amazing adventure, right?
Don’t worry country music fans, we’ve got something for you too. Massive names in the country music scene touch down in tiny Prince Edward Island for the Cavendish, the weekend-long festival devoted to twang. Catch Zac Brown Band, Little Big Town, Kip Moore and more this July 7 to 9 in Cavendish. Alberta is so jealous.
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