Best Fests: Canada Music Festivals

Canadian Music Week 2016

May 4-14. 2016

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.

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Photo Credit: Canadian Music Fest

North by Northeast (NXNE) 2016

June 13-19, 2016

Canada’s answer to Austin’s SXSW follows a similar recipe – take hundreds of artists, mix with a huge industry conference, add comedy, art, and film to produce an epic sized showcase festival. Make sure to hit the free shows at Yonge-Dundas Square which have featured performances by St. Vincent, Sleigh Bells, The National, DEVO, and The Flaming Lips.

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Photo Credit: NXNE

Amnesia Rockfest 2016

June 23-26, 2016

Started ten years ago by a seventeen year old kid who just wanted bring in a bunch of sick bands to his tiny town, Amnesia Rockfest has grown into one of the largest rock festivals in Canada. The tenth anniversary will feature a lineup curated by Tim Armstrong of Rancid and Fat Mike From NOFX. Camping on this festival is fully recommended and takes place along a river (you can even park your boat!)

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Photo Credit: Amnesia Rockfest

Center of Gravity 2016

July 8-10, 2016

Mixing a music festival and sports (and bikinis) is a winning combination for this festival in Kelowana, British Columbia. EDM and hip-hop artists play against a backdrop of beaches, volleyball, wakeboarding, and mountain biking professional atheletes.

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Photo Credit: Center of Gravity

Quebec City Summer Festival 2016

July 7-17, 2016

For those of you seeking a music festival and a taste of old world charm, check out the mammoth Quebec City Summer Festival. Stretching for an astounding eleven days, historic Quebec City is overrun by an astounding 1.5 million fans. 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!”

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Photo Credit: Renaud Philippe

Ottawa Bluesfest 2016

July 7-17, 2016

Winning the title for “festival that sounds least like its name”, the Ottawa Bluesfest hits almost every genre even including a little bit of blues. Starting as a small fest over twenty years ago, they have grown exponentially to a ten-day mult-stage event that’s one of the highlights of the Canadian summer.

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Photo Credit: Steve Gerecke

Pemberton Music Festival 2016

July 16-19, 2016

The new kid on the block (last year was their first), the now annual Pemberton Festival returns bringing that mega-festival vibe to western Canada. Reviews were strong for their debut year so we’re definitely stoked to see what they bring to the sequel.

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Photo Credit: Pemberton Music Festival

Osheaga 2016

July 29-31, 2016

Osheaga started as a vision to bring a giant European style festival to Canada. It’s safe to say they've succeeded. Osheaga consistently brings a world-class lineup to the shores of Ile Sainte-Helene during the height of summer. It’s become so popular that organizers have added a second weekend of just metal (Heavy Montreal) and a third weekend of EDM (IleSoniq).

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Photo Credit: Vito Valentinetti for Music Festival Wizard

Heavy Montreal 2016

August 5-7, 2016

Like its more mainstream counterpart Osheaga, Heavy Montreal channels the vibe of the best open air European festivals but in metal form. Maybe it’s the sunshine, maybe it’s Canadians, but the crowd has to be one of the friendliest crowds we’ve ever partied with. Simply one of the best destinations in North America for fans of rock, punk, and metal.

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Photo Credit: Vito Valentinetti for Music Festival Wizard

Shambhala Music Festival 2016

August 5-8, 2016

At this point, Canada’s favorite DIY festival lives in a class by itself. Consistently chosen by fans as their favorite festival of the summer, this five day camping marathon features a wide array of music and art set admist the beautiful BC backcountry. It’s not a surprise that Shambhala is leading the way as a transformational festival.

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Photo Credit: Chuck Manley for Music Festival Wizard

Pop Montreal 2016

September 21-25, 2016

Wonderfully weird and beautifully under-appreciated, Pop Montreal is your best excuse to visit the city in the fall. Venues are scattered across the city from the largest clubs to unique venues (parks and cathedrals) to a single dude singing in the back of a vintage clothing store. And when you need a break from the crowds and music, it’s easy to slip into one of Montreal’s amazing restaurants or bars.

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Photo Credit: Katie Mendez for Music Festival Wizard