A brief summer festival guide

Six Canadian music jamborees that could make your summer.

While the beginning of a typical university student’s summer is often marked by frantic job-hunting and blissful nothingness, partaken in as a reaction to the stresses imbued upon students by final exams, the month of May also tends to signify the stirring up of a restlessness, and an acute desire not to waste the precious four months ahead. With this in mind, we here at The Argosy’s Entertainment offices (which happen to be unkempt bedrooms of young men in mid-to-large cities in Ontario) have compiled a list of interesting and affordable music festivals to punctuate your summer. No matter what province or territory one lives in, there are almost certainly music festivals nearby to help whittle away a few weekends. Here are our top selections, chosen in an astoundingly arbitrary manner and listed by region (in accordance with the Canadian Senate divisions):

Maritimes (New Brunswick): An obvious inclusion on this list, Sappyfest is arguably Sackville’s most highly anticipated event of the year. While all-inclusive passes are 19+, minors are free when accompanied by a pass-holding parent or legal guardian.  As one of the country’s most affordable festivals, passes are a hilariously specific $106.19. Sappyfest, which will be held on August 2-4 this year, can be researched thoroughly at www.sappyfest.com.

Newfoundland and Labrador: While little has been announced about the festival at the time of writing, the Wreckhouse International Jazz and Blues Festival is self-described in the following manner: “Wreckhouse speaks to the undeniable force of nature – the wind. Its awe-inspiring landscape and hurricane force winds are truly legendary. It’s the windiest place in Newfoundland and Labrador (one of the windiest in Canada) complete with colorful folklore and harrowing tales that makes the place larger than life.” Transpiring from July 10-13, Wreckhouse is a beautiful typification of Atlantic Canada’s cultural diversity. Their website will provide more details about this year’s festival in the coming weeks: www.wreckhousejazzandblues.com.

Territories (Yukon): Constantly described as one of Canada’s most diverse, intimate, and isolated music festivals, this year’s incarnation of the Dawson City Music Festival, which will span from July 19 – 21, is already endowed with an impressive line-up, which includes folk, hip-hop, and alternative country. The Dawson City Music Festival bills itself as, aside from a stellar festival, a “gateway to the Klondike region, [where one can] hike in the Tombstone Mountains, pan for gold at the Discovery Free Claim, [and lazily] paddle down the Yukon River under the midnight sun.” Tickets are $135, although one should be wary of additional travel costs necessitated by the festival’s location. More information can be found at www.dcmf.com.

Quebec: The Festival d’été de Québec is one of this country’s most musically, linguistically, and culturally diverse festivals, as well as one of its largest. At a scant $73, attending this ten-day (July 4-14) monolithic festival is sure to be the highlight of anyone’s summer. With a program that includes indie pop icons, 1960s groups, and the Wu-Tang Clan, Quebec City’s Summer Festival boasts this year’s best festival schedule north of the USA. Additionally, the Festival d’été de Québec hosts an award ceremony, complete with large monetary prizes, for those artists who are on its program. More information can be found, in either French or English, at www.infofestival.com.

Ontario: Hillside Music Festival is “a not-for-profit music festival that celebrates creativity through artistic expression, community engagement and environmental leadership.” The July 26-28 festival is located on the scenic Guelph Lake Island and is one of the most environmentally friendly festivals in Canada, going so far as to offer kale seedlings to those who purchase their tickets at the festival’s offices. While Hillside’s incredible, renowned community often results in the selling out of weekend passes within a half hour, day passes are often easier to obtain and are well worth their price to experience the multitudinous food vendors, workshops, and performances of the weekend. Weekend passes are $125 and more information can be found at www.hillsidefestival.ca.

Western Canada (Alberta): To put it simply and colloquially, the Calgary Folk Music Festival does not muck about; it is a behemoth event that must be experienced. Most notable, besides its line-up of established, marquee, and unwarrantedly unheralded musicians and groups, is the festival’s “collaborative sessions, [in which they] group disparate artists loosely by themes, encouraging them to collaborate on each other’s material, creating coveted once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for audiences and artists alike”. This four-day festival runs from July 25-28, with passes costing $175, although student passes are a scant $120. Research this festival at www.calgaryfolkfestival.com. 

Hop on a bus, plane, train, or pickup truck and get yourself to one of these festivals. You will not be disappointed. However, a word of warning may be warranted: Music festivals are, despite their carefree, communal nature, often infested with drugs, false moral superiority, and a devastating lack of hygienic consciousness. While navigating these perilous aspects can be daunting, the pay-off is nearly always worth it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles