Music Festival Guide: Top 10 Canadian Fests

Once the snow melts, the Canadian festival season kicks into full swing. Grab a sixer of Moslson XXX and let’s see what’s happening in the north this summer. Keep in mind this is only a small sampling — see the full list of upcoming music festivals in Canada.

1. Boonstock
Where: Gibbons, Alberta
When: June 27-June 30, 2013

O Canada! Front row seats at Boonstock.

The pride of Alberta returns for another rollicking midsummer weekend. The traditionally rock heavy show also boasts some of the best camping of the Canadian festivals with a late night dance tent and plenty of entertainment. It also takes place over Canada Day, which may make little sense to us Yankees, but we’re guessing it has something to do with partying.

2. Osheaga
Where: Montreal, Quebec
When: August 2-4, 2013

It was only after the three hour battle to the front that Todd realized he needed a bathroom.

Osheaga may be smack dab in the middle of Montreal, but doesn’t feel like a downtown festival due to the tranquil ÃŽle Sainte-Hélène. Of course, you’re sharing that peaceful location with 30,000 screaming manics. The island festival has featured big names in recent years like Arcade Fire, The Flaming Lips, Sonic Youth, Coldplay, Snoop Dogg, and The National. Scan the local paper for late night after party scenes throughout the city.

3. Calgary Stampede
Where: Calgary, Alberta
When: July 5-14, 2013

100 years of the Calgary Stampede.

It’s a music festival. It’s a rodeo. It’s a state fair. It’s been happening for over 100 years (not a typo, that’s two zeros). Over the course of a whopping ten days, this monster of entertainment will trample you with fun. Or you may actually get trampled by a horse — stay away from that rodeo fence.

4. Canadian Music Fest
Where: Toronto, Ontario
When: March 19-24, 2013

Just another night out in Toronto. Photo Credit: Canadian Music Fest Flickr

The largest music festival in Canada boasts 900 bands in over 60 venues for five nights of music. With a wristband running well under $100, CMF is your best bet of the year for the most music for the least amount of cash. Plan ahead — this is one of those festivals that you’ll need a schedule to see everything.

5. North by Northeast
Where: Toronto, Ontario
When: June 10-16, 2013

Taking it to the streets for North by NorthEast

With both winter and CMF in the rearview mirror, Toronto is treated to another gigantic club festival. North by NorthEast, playing off the SXSW name, fills the city again with 40 films and 50 interactive panels. Oh yeah, they also feature like 650 artists.

6 and 7. Heavy MTL and Heavy T.O.
Where: Toronto and Montreal
When: August (Unconfirmed)

A traditional fan greeting at Montreal’s Heavy MTL Festival.

This two headed metal monster brings the heavy to both Montreal and Toronto. Besides the music, this bountiful gift has a dark side — both shows are on the same weekend. If you must choose, the Montreal show that started it all typically features a more expansive lineup.

8. Halifax Pop Explosion
Where: Halifax, Nova Scotia
When: October 22-26, 2013

It’s easy to get stoked with all the new bands at HPX. Photo Credit: HPX Facebook

Since 1993, the non-profit HPX has been hooking up local talent with industry insiders along with introducing artists to Halifax audiences.  The 2011 club festival busted records with 180 bands at 20 venues in front of more than 20,000+ fans. For all you wannabe rockstars, the festival is still taking application for the 2013 show.

9. Shambahala
Where: Salmo, BC
When: August 7-12, 2013

Pagoda Stage Enterance @ Shambhala. Photo Credit: Lefy – Mountain Eye

The family owned Shambahala Festival has a simple mission: “It’s all about the people on the dancefloor”. The venue is a working farm, they don’t accept corporate sponsorship, and for five days Shambahla is the largest city in the West Kootenays. With 6 uniquely themed stages and the odd encounter with miniature donkeys, bring the Shambhalove to BC this summer.

10. Quebec Summer Festival
Where: Quebec City, Quebec
When: July 4-14, 2013

Explosions in the sky at Quebec Summer Festival.

Bonjour festival fans! For eleven days, the historic Quebec City is overrun by an astounding 1.5 million fans who pay only a single price for all the outdoor shows and concerts. Not a bad start for a festival that was started in 1968 by a few artists and businessmen. There’s plenty of other activities happening in Canada’s French-iest city. As they say on their website: “During the Festival, the whole city is celebrating!”

Born during a sweaty, backstage, Bonnaroo downpour, the editor-in-chief's mission in life is to dance, write, and travel to every great festival that this wide world has to offer. While his identity remains a mystery, you may have already met him, probably when he helped himself to your party favors.