Getting your festival fix: A look at some of Canada’s top summer music festivals

By in Culture

Forget the heat and the prospect of ditching your winter coat — summer means looking forward to music-festival season. There is no lack of festivals on Canadian soil, so here are some of the best to satiate your sonic cravings.

It would be irresponsible to talk about Canadian music festivals without talking about the big one: Osheaga. Like previous years, this year’s lineup is stellar and includes Travis Scott, Arctic Monkeys, Khalid, Florence and the Machine, the National, Post Malone and Tyler, the Creator, among a plethora of others. Simply put, Osheaga’s lineup has something for everyone.

Unfortunately, this stellar lineup means that the festival isn’t cheap. General admission passes are priced at $320, and that’s without transportation, lodgings and food. So, if you have a kidney to sell or you just inherited a fortune, then be sure to go. A word to the wise: if you’re not fond of big crowds, then you may want to avoid Montreal from Aug. 3 to 5.

The Winnipeg Folk Festival — occuring from July 5 to 8 — also looks worthwhile. Early-bird tickets for a full festival pass go for $204 and will allow you to see Real Estate, Whitney, Bahamas, Elle King, Sheryl Crow and others. With a lineup like this, you’ll have a legitimate reason to travel to Winnipeg.

Although not technically in the summer, Vancouver’s Skookum is shaping up to be a festival for the books. Set in the heart of Stanley Park from Sept. 7 to 9 — when it will still feel like summer — the festival will feature musical acts the Killers, Metric, Father John Misty, St. Vincent and more, in addition to a great many food establishments and visual artists.

At $319, Skookum is on the pricier side. But, if Skookum sounds good to you, don’t hold out — tickets are selling out rapidly.

From June 20 to 24, Calgary’s seminal independent music festival Sled Island will showcase over 250 artists — including some big names like Dirty Projectors, Deerhoof and Cherry Glazerr — in nearly 40 venues across Cowtown. Sled Island is really the pinnacle for those interested in Canada’s eclectic sonic offerings.

Passes for Sled Island are on sale now and start at $214. If you’re not up for buying a pass, Sled Island also has tickets available for individual shows.

If you’re looking for another festival not too far from Saskatoon, Interstellar Rodeo is for you. Put on by the
Toronto-based record label Six Shooter Records and held in Edmonton from July 20 to 22, the festival boasts Feist, July Talk, Courtney Barnett, A Tribe Called Red and others for the price of $249. What’s more, saying that you’re going to an Interstellar Rodeo sounds really cool.

For those of you who don’t plan on leaving Saskatchewan to get your festival fix, you’re in luck. Nestled deep in the heart of Saskatchewan’s boreal forest, the incomparable Ness Creek Music Festival is happening from July 19 to 22. Little else beats listening to music in the middle of the forest with over 3,500 other festival attendees.

Although the main musical lineup has not yet been announced, you can expect to hear Ness Creek house band Crooked Creek, a trancey drum circle and several campfire jams at the festival. Tickets are on sale for $160, currently with a $25 early-bird rebate.

If you have reservations about camping in the woods with little to no plumping, there’s always the reliable Saskatchewan Jazz Festival here in Saskatoon. The festival’s showstoppers — so to speak — include City and Colour, Kamasi Washington, Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite, and the Flaming Lips. The festival runs from June 22 to July 1, early-bird ticket prices range from $20 to $60 per show, and three or more shows can be bundled together for 15 per cent off — so the Sask Jazz Fest is an affordable way to make Bridge City boogie.

At the end of the day, if none of these options entice you or if you’re feeling craven about leaving the province, there’s always Country Thunder Saskatchewan. Enough said.

Tanner Bayne / Culture Editor

Graphic: Lesia Karalash / Graphics Editor