Bucket List Worthy
Summer is fully upon us and one thing’s for sure… it’s festival time! There’s no better time of year to get together with close friends and loved ones and enjoy some of your favourite songs than now. Some may be close to home, while others may involve a trek, but no matter where you find yourself in North America this summer, there is a festival for you to find your people.
Summer is high season for music festivals; it’s when the biggest names in the business tee up the best shows for their fans and invite everyone to join. But that’s not all: while most of the events on our list are based around the music, some festivals feature other elements as well to intrigue your inner creative. You’ll just have to find out for yourself.
Whether you’re looking for something outdoorsy and relaxed, or inside and funky, we have the festival for you. North America is home to gorgeous scenery and some of these locations make for the best venues. Interested in finding out more of what we’ve decided as the best on the continent? Then keep scrollin’.
If you’re in search of a festival with a little something for everyone, FloydFest is the place to be. Vendors and craft beers surrounded by art and music that will make you want to move, and a festival site that tells you everything you need to know before you go.
As the music component of the weekend, Foster the People headlines this lineup of over 100 artists on eight different stages. Set in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the natural scenery and amount of activities for all ages have contributed to FloydFest’s rave reviews from TIME Magazine, Blue Ridge Outdoors, Charlie Rose and Fox News.
For those searching for a more relaxed environment, look no further than Hinterland Music Festival, in rural Iowa. Featuring indie, folk, rock, Americana, and country music in a natural amphitheatre, festival goers will experience an authentic taste of the midwest while enjoying a weekend of great music, adventurous camping and varied food.
As the longest running, and largest family music festival on Long Island, the Great South Bay Music Festival is geared towards a great time for the family as a whole. With music starting at 4:00pm for the first two days and 2:00pm for the last two, there is plenty of time to catch all the artists on your list, and to find those that suit the tastes of everyone in your group.
Also present is Great South Bays Artisan Market, with a collection of hand made and imported creations, as well as the KIDZONE, dedicated to educational fun for all the younger attendees.
Celebrating 80 years this year, Stern Grove Festival takes pride in creating accessibility to the arts for all through its free admission. Not only that, but the festival goes on for the entire summer and highlights the diversity of the Bay Area through its variety of performers.
This year the 70 acres of stunning eucalyptus forest will be home to artists ranging from Ziggy Marley to the San Francisco Symphony, as well as arts education and youth outreach programs every Sunday. And to top it all off, this is the fourth year that Stern Grove will commission the original works of local performers, to premiere on the Festival stage.
Creating an intersection of creativity and boundary-pushing progression is MUTEK Montréal. Having received international and national recognition, MUTEK highlights the focus of music, visual art and technology. Here you’re sure to find a captivating performance that is ahead of its time and will be setting the trends to come. Finding its home in Montréal, MUTEK impresses its audience with digital creations not yet seen before.
As an added initiative this year, there is a focus on women in digital arts and electronic music. The festival will highlight female artists and has also established a two-day symposium to encourage fans of the digital world to support the female creators who are up-and-coming. Check MUTEK out to go for a trip and find yourself in a community of innovation, exploration and expansion.
Dancefestopia is recognized for its intimate setting while still hosting some of the biggest names in electronic music. With a capped attendance, you’re integrated into a crowd of other fans while creating a sense of community amongst yourselves through the enjoyment of your experience.
This tight-knit community brings energy, connection and excitement and encourages attendees to forge friendships with those you didn’t know just a few days ago. This year’s lineup will see the likes of Adventure Club, Zeds Dead and Flux Pavilion and over 30 more EDM artists, and will give you plenty of beats to dance your night away.
The uniqueness of Telluride is not lost upon us here, with the box canyon setting and the bluegrass genre combining for over 25 years of festival magic. With acoustic music filling the air, this is the spot to chill out, enjoy your time and be present in that moment.
The historic mountain town of Telluride in the San Juan Mountains sits at an elevation of 8,750′, painting the scenic picture of summer done right. When combined with 11,000 concertgoers makes way for an unforgettable time that will have you wanting to come back again and again.
International sensations will be gathering in Toronto to commemorate 100 years since the end of World War I and to mentor young emerging musicians while giving public performances of their talent. The music being celebrated is that which was written during or inspired by times of war and conflict, which is sure to stimulate the thoughts and the emotions of each audience.
The Toronto Summer Music Festival is a one of a kind experience, running for three weeks with over 60 concerts and opportunities to share in historical recognition. Set in downtown Toronto, this is a festival for the culturally inclined who wish to share in an enriched appreciation with other music lovers. Also featuring guest lectures, this is the place to learn and escalate through a greater understanding of the Canadian music world.
Still young in its second year, Westward Music Festival spans across Vancouver’s downtown core and shows off the scenic city of Canada’s west coast. Westward features headliners such as Blood Orange and Kali Uchis, and also makes a point to showcase some of Canada’s own such as Andy Shauf, Chan Van Gaalen, We Are The City, and more.
With over 100 artists to perform and 20,000 attendees expected, Vancouver sets the scene for a weekend of great music amongst the ocean, mountains and trees. There is plenty to see and because this festival is still so new, there is a chance to be part of something new, exciting and refreshing while at the start of a new tradition!
M pour Montréal stands for something more than an annual festival and that is acting as a launching pad for new and emerging artists into the international market. “M” is a non-profit organization which strives to expand the horizons of local artists beyond the province of Québec.
M pour Montréal has become a staple of the city’s culture and is now recognized amongst locals as a place for new artists to be seen and heard. Now not only recognized amongst Montréal’s music scene, it has become a stop in the international circuit of New Music festivals and is recognized for its decade long contribution to the production of talent. Tickets are pricey but definitely worth it if you want to say you “saw them when”.
Set just outside the downtown core of Victoria, Rifflandia is home to a diverse lineup of celebrated artists. Staying true to the Pacific Northwest’s roots, this is a festival dedicated to green practices and respecting the space that it shares for its duration.
Headlined by the likes of Daniel Caesar, Jessie Reyez and Adventure Club there are shows for everyone to see and enjoy. Rifflandia is family-friendly and within walking distance of the historic sites of Victoria’s downtown, building a weekend of exploration that is sure to inspire and impress.
Known as Vancouver Island’s biggest rock event of the summer, Rock the Shores will be home to over 25 artists including Brian Wilson, Social Ambassadors and The Sheepdogs. Set outdoors in July and on West Shore Parks and Rec’s lower fields, this is where you want to be if you want to rock your summer.
Atomique Productions puts on Rock the Shores and was founded by childhood friends Nick Blasko and Dimitri Demers, who originally shared a love for cartoons and eventually grew to share a passion for live local music. If those aren’t the people you want deciding who you choose to chill and rock to, we’re not sure who is.
Are you looking for a little bit of art with a sprinkling of themes and a dash of interactive characters, finished off with a whole lot of music? Look no further than Electric Forest, Michigan‘s eight day, two weekend festival. The focus is on electronic bands, but while entering its eight year, Electric Forest knows a little something about the something else.
Taking place in the lush and stunning Sherwood Forest, Electric Forest uses its beautiful venue to its advantage, combines it with a contagious energy and makes you want to keep going all weekend long (and maybe the weekend after, too). The passion of the fans are what keep the energy alive, and the enthusiasm to keep the theme upbeat makes this the go to spot for adventurers and free-spirits alike.
Moving over to Canada‘s east coast, Halifax Pop Explosion reveals some of the country’s top talent across a range of genres and performing at a number of venues across the city. This is a chance to facilitate your own live music exploration and to discover who might be the next big thing. With 25 years of experience, those at HPX know how to use the city’s views, food and beer to their advantage, and incorporate the art scene into the weekend’s festivities.
Halifax is easy to walk around, and with HPX set at multiple venues, you may need to do just that. Along the way you’ll be sure to find a lot to do, eat and drink, and will make a weekend for yourself that will have you wondering when you can get back to some of the newest and coolest sounds of Canada, brought to you by Halifax.
Yet another reason to get yourself to Montréal, which is maintaining its reputation as one of Canada’s trendiest cities. POP Montréal enters its 17th year and continues to bring the diversity, creativity and ingenuity that it has become known for. Recognized as an international music festival, POP Montréal is rooted in its locals while still extending to the entire world.
If you’re out for a combination of emerging acts and established artists, you have found the spot and you might just find a little more than you were looking for because POP Montréal places its focus on having an multidisciplinary lineup to help you acquire a new taste. And to top it all off, POP Montréal is a not-for-proﬁt curated cultural festival, fighting to maintain independence of the arts.
Progressive? Check. Inclusive? Check. Entertaining? Check. Calgary Fringe Festival brings performers from around the world to help them with “a hand up, not a hand out”. By definition, fringe festivals are intended to provide a limitless stage for independent theatre artists to perform for an audience. Beginning in 1947 in Edinburgh, Scotland, they are meant to be accessible for audiences and performers alike, while acting as an uncensored form of expression.
By fostering a space of creative freedom, those at Calgary Fringe Festival have established a community of supportive and accessible arts for those in the community to enjoy and express. The entire ticket revenue is returned to the artists, reiterating the point of supporting a local community through engagement and connection. While nothing is off limits, equality and respect are promoted at the same time that theatre is celebrated. Go here to laugh, and go here to learn.
Music & Beyond is exactly that: establishing a bond between music and other art forms is at the heart of this festival, with an incorporation of visual art, drama, poetry, dance, architecture, circus, magic, science, comedy, law, food, wine and yoga. Through this collaboration is an intention to draw a greater audience to the world of classical music.
Music & Beyond strives to bring an audience from all demographics, and places attention on the younger crowd, with the design of introducing and involving them in the music and arts community. Set in Canada’s capital, Music & Beyond is an opportunity to discover and expand through a creative alliance of art forces.
Bigger isn’t always better, but in the case of Global Dance Festival it definitely is. Huge rides, thought-provoking art, DJs and food trucks scatter the grounds of Global Dance Festival and the five stages present plenty of chances to get lost in the music – or not, as one stage features a silent disco where those in attendance receive wireless headphones and have the option of which DJ set they dance to, rather than hearing the same thing as those around them.
Global Dance Festival’s stages will see the likes of Deadmau5, Tiësto, Future and Gucci Mane as well as many more this year. There’s a reason this is recognized as one of Colorado‘s largest festivals, and why DJs and hip-hop artists alike from around the world want to be here. You should too.
Bass Coast Festival offers an eclectic collection of electronic music, art, ideas and technology. Its intimate size and setting puts you close to the action: 100+ international and local artists, immersive audio-visual environments with world class sound design by PK Sound, liberating movement workshops, and dozens of original art installations.
Located in British Columbia’s majestic Nicola Valley, this festival’s spirited, surreal atmosphere is sure to take your breath away. Lose yourself in the music and let your imagination run wild at this extraordinary festival.
VELD Music Festival is an all ages festival that has enhanced the electronic dance music landscape in Canada. Three stages give attendees a chance to see countless artists throughout the weekend, and to be a part of a crowd of over 70,000.
In the depths of the summer and the beginning of August, these DJs bring the heat. This year’s lineup will see DJ Snake, Marshmello, Martin Garrix and Migos take the stage at Downsview Park, only a quick subway ride away from the heart of downtown Toronto.
With a historical landscape as its setting at the Plains of Abraham, Festival d’été de Québec highlights international stars and emerging artists alike in a range of genres like rock, hip hop, pop, electro, reggae, world beat, French song and more. For less than $10 a day, attendees can see their favourites and discover new favourites to follow throughout their careers, all while experiencing shows on both indoor and outdoor stages.
FEQ has been hosting thousands for over 50 years and has developed a skill for entertaining and engaging so many. Over 11 days, there are so many artists of different genres that you may just find yourself crossing over from one to another, and we are here for it. Going in with an open mind is the best approach for FEQ and will leave you with an experience you won’t want to forget.
Coast to coast and with stops in between, North America is home to a range of exciting and interesting festivals with selections for any preference. Whether its theatre, electronic music, art installations or bluegrass that you’re craving, we have found the answer for you. These are the best festivals in North America in 2018.
Each of these festivals are unique in their own way. That may be a stunning venue, a ton of history, a community of dedicated followers or something else entirely, but each has a vibe that attracts its tribe and now it’s up to you to find the one you want to gravitate towards. And who are we to tell you to pick just one? Find as many as you love on this list, and they might just lead you to more.