A guide to the Canadian summer festival season

A little bit of everything for music fans this summer

Busty and the Bass, pictured playing in Kingston last November, will be performing at Osheaga and Riverfest this summer.

From Osheaga to Pemberton, Canada hosts some of the best and most unique music festivals in the world. In case you’re feeling overwhelmed by the vast amount of festivals at your fingertips, here’s a guide of some of the best festivals in Canada for you to check out this summer. 

BEST LINEUP 

Pemberton (Pemberton, BC) 

Weekend passes: $315 

July 14-17 

Canadian artists you don’t want to miss: Arkells, Wolf Parade, Wintersleep, The Zolas, The Elwins, Purity Ring

If you’re out west and looking for a great lineup of some of the best Canadian and international music, this is the place to be.

From some of the best in the hip hop and rap industry, to the sweet mellow tunes of Canadian indie artists, there’s something for every music listener in this lineup. 

Some big acts include; Pearl Jam, The Killers, Wiz Khalifa and Die Antwoord.  

BEST FOR YOUR MONEY 

WayHome (Oro Medonte, ON) 

Weekend passes: $209.99-$279.99 

July 22-24

Canadian artists you don’t want to miss: Wolf Parade, BadBadNotGood, A Tribe Called Red, Half Moon Run, Stars, Little Scream 

WayHome has become one of the leading Canadian music festivals, in only one year.

Although they have strong headliners, the artists you don’t want to miss are the ones you’ll find further down on the poster. 

Artists such as Lindsey Stirling, A Tribe Called Red and BØRNS are up-and-coming artists that are sure to make the experience worth the money. 

BEST WEEKEND TRIP

Osheaga (Montreal, QC) 

Weekend passes: $310 

July 29-31

Canadian artists you don’t want to miss: Busty and the Bass, Coeur de pirate, Dear Rouge, July Talk, The Strumbellas, Grimes, Wolf Parade, Half Moon Run 

If you know anything about Canadian music festivals, then you’ve probably heard of Osheaga. 

Together with a strong lineup, the location in one of Canada’s top music driven cities provides a great experience all around. 

Spend the day enjoying the music, art and comedy and then, once the music is done, explore the great city of Montreal. This festival should make every student’s bucket list. 

The Arkells, pictured playing at Queen’s Homecoming last October, will perform at the Pemberton Music Festival in July. Journal File Photo. 

BEST UNIQUE EXPERIENCE

Hillside Festival (Guelph, ON)  

Weekend passes: $146 

July 22-24

Canadian artists you don’t want to miss: Choir! Choir! Choir!, Evening Hymns, Holy Fuck, Casey Mecija, PUP 

Known for bringing in some of the most up-and-coming names in Canadian music, Hillside is continuing its tradition. 

Hillside is most unique for its collaboration sessions, where various underground artists will come together and play either planned or improvised sets. This is a festival like no other, where you get to see and hear some of the most unique collaborations in the music industry. 

BEST FREE FESTIVAL

Mill Race Festival (Cambridge, ON) 

Weekend passes: Free

July 29–31

It’s unlikely you will recognize any of the names on the lineup (unless you’re really into traditional folk music), but Mill Race Festival is worth the trip to Cambridge, ON. 

Not only is it free admission, but it’s situated right on the Grand River. Right next to the main stage is local favourite ice cream and French fry place, L.A. Franks. 

With the money you saved on free admission, go buy a milkshake then sit and enjoy the traditional folk music and the beautiful view of the river.  

BEST CANADIAN LINEUP

Riverfest (Elora, ON) 

Weekend Passes: $140 

August 19-21

Canadian artists you don’t want to miss: Yukon Blonde, Wintersleep, Stella Ella Ola, Busty and the Bass, Young Rival, The Zolas

If you’re heartbroken that Wolfe Island Music Festival was cancelled this year, then you should pack your bags and head out to Riverfest. 

Many of the artists you’ll find at this festival are some of the best in the Canadian Indie music scene. Riverfest is the perfect way to end the summer with some great music and camping. 

BEST METAL FESTIVAL

HEAVY MONTRÉAL (Montreal, QC)            

Weekend passes: $149.50 

August 6-7 

Artists you don’t want to miss: Nightwish, Mastodon, Animals as Leaders 

For those who aren’t into pop and indie rock music, this festival is for you. Parc Jean-Drapeau, where Osheaga is held, turns into a metal fan’s dream only a week after Osheaga ends. 

Although the lineup privileges international over Canadian artists this year, there are still some great acts to rock out to.

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