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As if there weren’t already enough reasons to check out Montreal, the city is also home to one of the country’s best music festivals: Osheaga. Whether you’re a festival regular or a Montreal first-timer, we’ve got everything you need to know about this year’s three-day celebration of your favourite bands.
The festival kicks off on Friday, August 4 and runs through the weekend to Sunday, August 6. This year, Osheaga will once again be held on Ile Sainte-Hélène, in Parc Jean-Drapeau. One of the best things about Osheaga is that unlike a lot of big festivals, this one is just a few minutes from downtown Montreal.
If you’re wondering who’s playing when, check the site anywhere from two to four weeks ahead of the big weekend. Headliners typically take the stage between 9 and 9:30 at night, playing for an hour-and-a-half or more.
Headliners like The Weeknd, Muse and Lorde. Lesser-known artists like The Districts, Middle Kids, Whitney and Noname. Canadian gems like Broken Social Scene, Daniel Caesar, PUP, Crystal Castles and Arkells.
Aside from the regular hotel options, Airbnb has loads of listings in Montreal that allow you to stay solo, split a place with friends, or rent a room in a host’s house. In addition to that, the festival has organized accommodations of their own—head to the Osheaga site to see options for renting out one of the unused, hotel-like university dorm rooms that sit empty all summer.
Don’t mess this up. A trip to Montreal without a poutine run is like a music festival without that one guy in the Oakleys yelling song requests at the wrong band. Try La Banquise on Rue Rachel for late night, get the breakfast poutine at Boulevard Saint-Laurent’s Patati Patata, or go old school for lunch at Lafleur on Rue Wellington.
The last band will usually finish their set between 10:30 and 11:30 at night—plenty of time to hit up a bar or grab a late bite. Check out an official Osheaga after party or wander Saint-Laurent Boulevard or rue Saint-Denis for plenty of places to gets drinks and hang out. As for food? See our note on poutine above.
Go to Lawrence for the scones (seriously), hit up Laika for the best baked egg dishes anywhere, try Maison Publique for excellent rancheros (and a great beer selection), get the shakshuka at Sparrow, or… just get poutine again?
Put these in your backpack: a non-aerosol sunscreen, shades, a sweater for when the sun goes down, your phone charger (Osheaga has charging stations), a camera, a beach towel or blanket, a clear plastic water bottle (the festival provides filling stations) a waterproof poncho or small umbrella, and snacks—though you’ll find plenty of those for sale at the festival, along with drinks of both the alcoholic and non-alcoholic variety.
Leave this stuff at home: massive golf umbrellas, coolers, your own alcohol, beach balls and frisbees, folding chairs, your cat, selfie sticks and drones, laser pointers, and feather headbands. Osheaga’s very cool and progressive policy on that last item states: “The First Nations Headdresses have a spiritual and cultural meaning in the native communities and to respect and honor their people, Osheaga, Heavy Montreal and îleSoniq ask fans and artists attending the festivals to not use this symbol as a fashion accessory.”
Flower crowns are okay, though.
You don’t need us to tell you how to do that.