Festivals dedicated to folk music. Festivals that celebrate heritage, no matter where it’s from. Festivals that aim to raise awareness, or fundraise. Festivals that screen movies for film lovers, or have books available for all. Festivals featuring food, fun, and a whole lot of music. And even festivals for dogs.
There really is a festival for everyone in Canada and the U.S. this year, and next. Wherever you live, you can find one nearby to fly to, take a bus to, drive to, or even walk to, if you’re close enough. But the question is, what are the best festivals? Well, that’s where we come in.
FlightNetwork is excited to announce the first part of our definitive guide to the best festivals happening in North America in 2018, and 2019. We sent our eyes and ears all over the place to report back on what’s hot right now. And the result is an exhaustive look at the festivals that make U.S. and Canada sing. We’re positive that you’ll fall in love with (at least) one of these mega-events while scrolling below. Get ready to plan your next trip, and most importantly: have fun exploring.
Every May, the Arab world comes to Calgary, for this exciting four-day film festival that features an assortment of Arab films, as well as food, art, and music from the region. The screened films arrive from countries like Palestine, Jordan, UAE, and others, and include comedies, dramas, documentaries, and other key genres. In other words: there’s something for everyone at the festival, which strives to showcase the rich diversity of the Arab world, and introduce new fans to the filmmaking world there. So grab some popcorn, and get comfortable.
Tickets for each day cost $10. Planning a visit? Then start at the festival’s website.
What’s L.A. without its classic movies? That statement is at the heart of Eat|See|Hear, an annual pop-up series, now IN its 7th year, that brings outdoor movies, music performances, and a ton of food trucks to renowned theaters across the City of Angels all summer long. You’ll be able to take in the summer nights , watching famous films on the largest inflatable movie screen on the West Coast. And it’s open to all ages, including pet owners—in fact, it’s considered the largest dog-friendly event in L.A. So bring the whole family!
Tickets for each event cost $14. To see what’s playing, check out the festival’s website here.
Because you’re in Oklahoma, and it’s time to check out the ol’ chuck wagon. What’s a chuck wagon, you might ask? A chuck wagon is essentially a portable wagon kitchen, where pioneers would carry and store their perishable items as they explored the frontier. The Annual Chuck Wagon Festival, to go a step further, is a two-day festival in Oklahoma City where visitors can see these old vehicles, and taste the foods of pioneers past. The festival is heavy on the authentic, with artisan demonstrations, bandanna decorating, a leather stamping workshop with a local guild, rope-making classes, archery lessons, and Western re-enactors who bring the past to the present. Children have a bevy of activities at their disposal, with family-friendly craft stations, puzzles, and dress-up areas available.
Tickets for the event are $15 a person. To start mapping out your itinerary, check out the Annual Chuck Wagon Festival’s website here.
In many ways, Montréal is the cultural beating heart of Canada. (We know that statement will likely start a debate.) So it makes sense that the St-Ambroise Montreal FRINGE Festival takes place here. The multidisciplinary arts festival is a testament to the creative spirit of Quebec‘s capital, with over 500 performances from artists in the fields of theatre, music, comedy, dance, spoken word, and much, much more. Artists are invited through a lottery, and are free to present anything they like, fostering an environment that is expressive as can be.
Tickets are no more than 10 CAD for a reason, as the festival looks to include patrons of all ages, and backgrounds. To see who’s performing this year, check out the website here.
Louisville, Kentucky, may not be the first place you think of when you hear the words ‘Shakespearean performance,’ but don’t let that deter you from visiting the burgeoning urban center for the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival. The summer-long festival strives to bring Shakespeare to the people, by creating a series of evening productions that are free, ticketless, and open to all. Attendees are encouraged to bring their picnics, pets, and friends. Take in modern renditions of Shakespeare classics, underneath the Louisville stars.
As mentioned, this event is free, and open to all. To see what’s playing this summer, check out the festival’s site here.
Mendocino is as California as California gets—a NorCal town overlooking the glistening Pacific, with cliffside trails and beaches that people travel for. And in early June, the snug community comes alive for the Mendocino Film Festival, a two-day event that doubles as a film lover’s paradise. Recognized independent and international films are presented by the filmmakers themselves, who can mingle with their fans after in an intimate setting. Panels and special events are held in both Mendocino and nearby Fort Bragg, attracting an assortment of industry types and fans.
Ticket prices vary between $11 and $25, depending on the event. To see what’s playing, head to the Mendocino Film Festival website here.
There are an endless amount of reasons to visit PEI, or Prince Edward Island. Its red beaches and vast farmlands are made for Instagram, and the hospitality and charm of the area has attracted visitors for ages now. And now there’s another reason to add to the list: the Charlottetown Festival. Over the course of three months each year, attendees come together for this outpouring of love for the Canadian performing arts, with four stages in operation to showcase the best in musical theatre. Some of the country’s most talented singers and dancers are invited to join in the festivities, which are primarily focused on the country’s heritage, and culture. And in the background is PEI, which is there to explore.
Ticket prices vary between $27 and $79, depending on the event you choose. For more information on what those events are, visit the festival’s website here.
It’s a film festival in where else, but HOLLYWOOD! But Dances with Films is different—it’s less about the glitz and glam, and more about those behind and in front of the camera. In 21 years, the festival has garnered a reputation for honoring the independent film scene, with alumni who have gone on to star, direct, or work on major Hollywood flicks. It’s even scored a couple of Oscar nominations in the process. We’re just sayin’… it’s sort of a big deal.
Entrance to the event is $18, and tickets can be purchased on the festival’s website here.
Ottawa isn’t exactly in the “west” of Canada, but that’s not what Westfest is all about. This is a festival that flourishes off of its diversity, and accessibility—the three-day celebration of arts and culture is entirely free, and open to everyone. Now in its 15th year, the stage is open to over 100 Canadian artists performing 30 acts, in addition to a host of panel discussions, youth art programming, a village of artisans and vendors from local communities, after-parties, and a recently relaunched food truck lineup. There is a pavilion that honors Canada’s Indigenous communities, and a family fun area. In other words: everyone is welcome!
As mentioned, there is no price to enter Westfest. All you have to do is bring yourself. For more information, check out the festival website here.
Ever get that feeling that you just want to escape from everything, and party? (We do often.) Then book your next flight to the dreamy getaway of the Bingemans, in Kitchener, Ontario, just in time for the Ever After Music Festival. Aptly named for living happily ‘ever after’ for its fairytale persona, the festival is a thumping three days featuring a lineup that is heavy on the bass, with such acts as Exclusion, Flux Pavilion, and Illenium, as well as theatre performers, thematic dancers, incredible stage productions, and VIP lounges to get classy. And if you’re looking for fun elsewhere, hit the waterpark, or play some games. It’s a dreamland—do what you want.
Single-day passes are $70 CAD. Getting ready to escape to paradise? Then hit the festival website here.
If festivals seek to honor a city or region’s past, then the San Francisco Free Folk Festival is a dedication to the Californian city’s counterculture of the 1960s and 70s. Put on annually since 1977 by the San Francisco Music Club, when it was held at the famous Hall of Flowers, the festival’s name says it all: an all-day folk festival that is free and open to everyone, featuring over 80 hours of performances by both veterans and newcomers to the genre. Aside from folk, patrons can visit music workshops, informal get-togethers, dance parties, a variety of crafts and vendors, and family-fun activities. Folk is in the blood of San Francisco, and fans are welcome to honor it!
The entrance to the festival is entirely free. For more details, check out the festival’s website here.
Don’t leave Charlottetown just yet, because Prince Edward Island makes room in early June for the PEI Mutual Festival of Small Halls—a two-week-long event that hosts singer-songwriters from PEI and beyond, as well as raucous storytellers and dancers, who get to perform in some of the island’s most appealing venues. The key here is intimacy: the productions are meant to be up close and personal, and feel as if you’re in your grandmother’s kitchen. Except you’re on the gorgeous PEI, so have fun.
Tickets cost between $25 and $34. To see who’s playing and where, check out the festival website here.
The Taste of Little Italy truly turns San Diego into a slice of the Mediterranean for a day, by carving a path throughout the city’s snug Italian enclave that takes ticket-holders to nearly 40 restaurants Foodies can sample delicacies from every region in Italy, and then mark their ‘Taste Passport’ to show off where they’ve eaten. And for variety, two routes are available on the passport—one south, one north, both delicious. Attendees are encouraged to do one thing: come hungry.
The ticket, which allows you to dine in at the restaurants, costs $40. To get your passport to culinary delight, check out the Taste of Little Italy website here.
Summer is one of the best times to be outside in L.A. and Orange County (better known as “The OC”)—you can feel the cool breeze off the Pacific, and soak in some true California rays. That’s where you’ll find Shakespeare by the Sea—across the L.A. and OC area, this free summer series of Shakespearean classics brings fans outside, with picnic baskets, beach chairs, and friends as must-have essentials. This year, the production company is putting on Merry Wives of Windsor and The Winter’s Tale—one comedy, and one drama. Both guaranteed to delight.
As mentioned, the event is entirely free—you just have to show up. For more details, check out the Shakespeare by the Sea website here.
When people think of Italian film, they often think of years past—movies made by directors like Fellini, De Sica, or Leone, from the 1950s or 1960s. But little do people know that the contemporary Italian film scene is just as enthralling, and exciting. Which is where the Italian Contemporary Film Festival comes in: outside of Italy, it’s one of the biggest Italian film festivals, taking place in eight cities across Canada over the course of a week. Be it Italian film or international, there’s something at this festival for everyone. So get comfortable!
Movies cost $12 to attend. To find out what’s playing where, check out the Italian Contemporary Film Festival website here.
Because what list of the best festivals would be complete without at least one for-dogs entry? Enter Corgi Con. That’s right—for an entire day in sunny San Francisco, Corgi owners and lovers come out in hordes to celebrate the dog breed that everyone loves. Consider it a fur-lebration: there’s a costume contest, corgi races, and even an event called Corgi Ninja Warriors. Which you’ll have to see to believe. If you love Corgis, then you won’t want to miss out on this one.
And the best part? It’s free. Get a glimpse of the furry friends here.
For as long as anyone can remember, the genres of sci-fi, fantasy, action, thrilled, and horror films were largely directed by men. But no longer. And if you don’t believe us, then pay a visit to the Etheria Film Festival, one of the most recognized competition showcase of new films in these genres directed solely by women. The all-day festival is designed to highlight the best films out there, and connect filmmakers with studios for greater distribution. Whether you work in the industry, plan to make a film yourself, or just straight up love the genre, then this festival is for you.
It costs $15 to get into the festival. To see what’s playing, check out the Etheria Film Festival’s website here.
If veganism or vegetarianism is a lifestyle, then California is its home. The West Coast state is, perhaps, the most friendly to the meatless, and nowhere is this more apparent than the South Bay VegFair, a one-day extravaganza to those dedicated to gastronomic sustainability. Vendors sell vegan and eco-friendly products, while attendees can peruse through “green” art. The idea is to offer lessons on living healthier, and respecting the earth through our diets. Oh, and there’s a ton of great food to eat, too.
Ticket prices for the South Bay VegFair cost $10 to $15. To see what’s on the menu this year, click the link here.
No, not that Manhattan—a different Manhattan. This one’s in Kansas, where, each year, thousands of people from all over the world gather for this Mecca-like celebration of country music. It starts off as a stampede to the stage, and morphs into a three-day concert experience that nobody forgets. This year will see dozens of performances in three separate locations, featuring both local and national talent. If you’re a country music fan, then these are your people. But just be ready to run.
A single-day pass costs $89 to Country Stampede. To see who’s playing this year, browse through the line-up on the festival website here.
The Groove Gathering is exactly that: groovy. The weekend yoga festival takes place on a 13-acre farm just outside of Kingston, ON, and is open to folks of all ages, and experience levels. But be ready to breathe: whether it’s music, creative play, or namaste, the festival sees world-famous yoga teachers and musicians, who come to teach the audience new yoga styles and movements. Meditation is abound, as is partying to live music, and DJs. R&R, sure, but The Groove Gathering is about grooving, too.
Tickets cost up to $92, and can be purchased on the Groove Gathering website here.
Good vibes are aplenty at the Bud Light Dreams Music Festival, a two-day boutique event that goes down at RBC Echo Beach in downtown Toronto, right off of the glistening Lake Ontario. It’s an ideal setting for electronic music, DJs, outdoor partying, dancing, and everything else that equates a good time. You just have to be 19 years, or older, to enjoy this celebration of Toronto’s vibrant music scene.
Single day passes to the Bud Light Dreams Music Festival costs CAD $79.50. To see who’s throwing down beats, head to the website here.
And if you’re in Toronto that weekend, and need a change of scenery, then make your way over to the Franco-Fête de Toronto. As organizers say, the free two-day festival is held each year to give “the Francophones, Francophiles and Anglophones” a place to come together, and celebrate Toronto’s French pride. So expect food, live music, and other French-focused activities that get to the heart of what makes this culture so rich, and diverse. Bon voyage!
As mentioned, the festival is entirely free. For details on what’s going down, check out the festival website here.
And don’t end your weekend in Toronto just yet, because that Sunday night is the first installment of the Christie Pits Film Festival, a curated film programme that focuses on a different, unique theme each year. What is it in 2018? “Cinematic Cities,” which will screen short and feature films that look at Toronto and other global cities, and what makes them truly tick. So that’ll include films like Hairspray (Baltimore), In the Mood for Love (Hong Kong), and Before Sunrise (Vienna). We know we’re excited.
Oh, and here’s another tidbit: it’s free. To see the full roster of flicks, check out the details here.
The Middle of the Map Fest is one of North America’s best festivals for a number of reasons. The first being the name: Kansas City, Missouri, is quite literally in the middle of a map of America, smack dab in the center, making it easily accessible to anyone interested in attending. Another is Kansas City itself: the Midwestern city is entirely unique, with a restaurant scene and nightlife that is rapidly growing, and becoming more interesting by the day. And then, finally, the festival: two days of live music, food, and art, all in one place. Need we say more?
Entrance to the event goes for $45 a ticket. Check out what’s happening this year on the Middle of the Map Fest website here.
There’s nothing like eating for a good cause. Especially ribs. Naperville’s Ribfest, which starts annually on the 4th of July just outside of Chicago, welcomes tens of thousands of patrons to this three-day fundraiser, where all proceeds go to the prevention of child and domestic abuse. You can do your part by enjoying the music of famous artists (this year, that includes Steven Tyler and Pitbull), participating in the host of family activities, and, of course, eating at the line-up of award-winning rib vendors that arrive from across America to serve up their goods. Oh, and it’s the 4th, so expect fireworks. Don’t threaten us with a good time.
Tickets go for $30 and up. To snag yours, check out the Naperville’s Ribfest website here.
Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, is a famed American landmark, symbolic for welcoming pioneers and frontiersmen to the West all those years again. So it seems like an appropriate place to throw a three-day birthday party for the country, with famous musicians like Jason Derulo and Martina McBride, family-friendly attractions, fireworks, and a performance by the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. That’s what the Fair Saint Louis serves up this year, in an event that is sure to attract countless visitors to the National Park under Gateway Arch, in what is called America’s “biggest birthday party.”
And guess what? It’s free! For more information on Fair Saint Louis and what it offers, check out their website here.
Back in 1972, a small one-day festival called the Northern Lights Folk Festival was held in Sudbury‘s Bell Park, in northern Ontario. There was just one stage, and visitors came from all over for the free event. Since then, the Northern Lights Festival Boréal has turned into a national spectacle—now it’s three days, and features a variety of modern Canadian music from the diverse artistic community in the area. Sure, acts come from all over the country and world to perform, but the festival does its part to recognize emerging Indigenous and Francophone artists, in an effort to include everyone. A lot has changed since ’72.
Ticket prices go for $25. The entire line-up for this year can be found on the Northern Lights Festival Boréal website here.
The streets flood onto Gazebo Park in Edmonton, Alberta, this year for the Edmonton International Street Performers Festival, which is now in its 34th year of existence. The six-day event invites the world’s best street performers to the Canadian city—that includes daring jugglers, mystifying magicians, eccentric circus performers, laugh-out-loud-funny comedians, expressive dancers, and outrageous hula hoopers, all to the southside of Edmonton. The festival is open to visitors of all ages, and all are welcome. Just don’t be surprised if you’re asked to come on stage for a trick.
Entrance to the festival is free, but donations are certainly welcome. For more information on who’s performing, check out the festival website here.
This one goes out to the folks who love country music, and the country itself. It’s time for the quote-unquote “Party of the Summer” in the beautiful Craven Valley when Country Thunder Saskatchewan revs up for the summer in early June. Country music fans should be ready to jam out to a stellar line-up, camp underneath the stars with friends and loved ones, and eat from a selection of gourmet vendors. If that sounds like too much fun, then this isn’t the festival for you.
The event is affordably priced at $100 CAD. Tickets can be purchased through the Country Thunder Saskatchewan website here.
We really don’t think there’s another festival like BRAVE in the world. Tagged as “The Festival of Risk and Failure,” this is an event solely dedicated to standing up against the Man, and not backing down. But, also, accepting defeat in the creative process not only as a necessity, but also, something that should be celebrated, and used to push even further. That said, the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto welcomes to the stage a line-up of intellectuals, artists, writers, and musicians who have faced great risk in what they do. And they’re here to share their stories.
Think you’re up for the challenge? If so, tickets go for $20, but there are also free events that anyone can attend. To plan your visit, check out the BRAVE website here.
Okay, yeah, let’s start with the basics for this one. So you might know of the renowned Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain, right? Well, imagine that, but in New Orleans. And instead of actual bulls, replace those with “RollerBulls,” which are roller derby skaters wearing horned helmets and carrying plastic bats to “gore” and run down runners. Got that? Then welcome to San Fermin in Nueva Orleans, a recreation (and slight tweaking) of the Spanish spectacle, but with more modern food, live music, DJs, burlesque performances, and events for charity. One thing that doesn’t change? The availability of Sangria.
Hopefully the Windy City isn’t too windy for the Windy City Smokeout in mid-July, an annual gathering of the city’s best BBQ, beer, and country music. Now in its 6th year, the line-up this year will see major acts like Brothers Osborne and Brett Young, as well as emerging artists in the genre. But we know what you really want to hear about: the BBQ. Well, then “feast” your eyes on these names: 17th Street, Rodney Scott, The Salt Lick, and Home Team. If you’re not familiar with these renowned pitmasters, don’t fret—you’ll leave with a few recommendations for your friends on where to eat good BBQ in the Windy City.
Ticket prices vary between $40 and $55. To prepare yourself for the music and food, then check out a few photos on the Windy City Smokeout website here.
Westminster, Maryland, sits at a crossroads of sorts for music. It sees creativity from Southern Appalachian; more worldly sounds from West Africa and Ireland with its immigrant population, and roots; and finds blues, bluegrass, and rock from its past. Then add hip-hop and dance into the mix, and you have yourself the Common Ground on the Hill Roots Music & Arts Festival, an all-day music blowout that sees a “common ground” of continuous performances from all of these backgrounds happening across four stages. Held at the charming Carroll County Farm Museum, attendees can brush shoulders with the stars themselves, and peruse a wine and beer garden, food options, crafts, and a children’s area open to the entire family.
Tickets start at $30, and can be purchases through the Common Ground website here.
The Finger Lakes are one of New York‘s greatest attractions—a set of narrow bodies of water that occupy the northwest region of the state, along which a number of communities are nestled. It’s a background that dazzles for the Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance, held in one of those communities, Trumansburg, over the course of four days, and four stages. The festival opens itself up to new and emerging artists on a national and world stage, but fans should expect to hear all new music for hours on end. And each year, veteran bands return to play this festival again, and again.
Depending on the days, which can go long, ticket prices vary between $49 and $69. To see the line-ups for each day, check out their website here.
We’re back in Edmonton, Alberta, again, this time later in July for the Interstellar Rodeo, a three-day festival that pairs the inseparable couple of great music and great wines. Local experts choose the drinks at this one, as you rock out to the music of headliners like Alabama Shakes, Steve Earle, Beck, and Father John Misty. Beyond that, you can bare witness to new talents while sipping on unique wines from the region. And outside of the festival, why not enjoy everything Edmonton has to offer? We’re up for making a trip out of it.
Single day tickets go for $88, but full passes go for $200. To pick one up for the 2018 edition, hit the Interstellar Rodeo website here.
We realize now that we’ve gotten deep into this list without giving a shout-out to book festivals. But that ends today. The Payson Book Festival is in the spotlight: a family-friendly event that takes place at the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino Hwy 89 in the mountain town of Payson, Arizona. It is totally free, and for book lovers and readers of all shapes, and sizes. In just one day, fans can meet over 80 Arizona authors, watch presentations on classic writers, and snack on some delectables throughout it all. As for children, they’re in luck with a Story Time that goes on all day. So grab a book, and get comfortable.
As mentioned, there is no ticket price for this one—it’s free! Now head to the website to see what’s on the shelves this year.
Craft beer is all the rage now, but the Oregon Brewers Festival in Portland has been getting people to sip on the hoppy suds for years now. The self-proclaimed “Beervana” sees over 70,000 fans visit annually from across the country, as it has very much become a Mecca piligrmage for craft beer connoisseurs. There are 80 independent craft beers on tap for folks to drink along the Willamette River, in the heart of Portland. And that includes all types: Saisons, Sours, Pilsners, and a bunch of others. All you have to do is be there.
The entrance to the festival itself is free, but the mug onsite is $7 and tokens are $1. (Most beers cost four tokens, and tastes are just one token.) To start getting thirsty now, check out the Oregon Brewers Festival website now.
The summer is where it’s at in Ottawa, and that starts with the Ottawa Chamberfest’s summer festival, which launches the 25th anniversary of Chamberfest’s celebrations. So you know it’s going to be a big one. This year, some of the most recognized chamber musicians worldwide will descend on Canada’s capital city, including Roby Lakatos, Danel, Ariel, Rolston string quartets, and other well-known ensembles from Canada, and elsewhere. For those new to the genre, there’s a ton of free programming available, in addition to daytime shows and an event at night called ‘Chamberfringe.’
As mentioned, some events are free, but Chamberfringe itself is $25 CAD to enter. Ticket prices generally vary. To find out more, check out the Ottawa Chamberfest’s summer festival website here.
The historic downtown of St. John’s is already a place worth visiting, let alone George Street, which is often called “the biggest little street in North America,” with over thirty different bars occupying the cobblestone. But for seven days straight in July, George Street comes alive even more with the George Street Festival. You’ll see renowned Irish and Celtic performers, an inauguration party for ‘honorary Newfoundlanders,’ a selection of raved-about outdoor concerts at night, and a line-up that is both diverse, and unique. In the past, that has meant Barenaked Ladies, Dropkick Murphys, and Kenny Rogers, all on the same stage. Now, 34 years in, the GSF knows how to throw a good one.
Ticket prices vary between $20 and $30. To see who’s playing this year, hit the St. John’s website here.
Where to start with the Doe Bay Fest? This festival in early August goes down just north of Seattle, on a remote, rural island that was chosen for its known beauty. And it celebrates that waterfront, with a five-day lineup that invites attendees to jam out and camp out. Who’s playing, however, is not made public beforehand, in order to raise the specter of surprise. But the food is—and this year, the organizers guarantee it’ll be good. The ‘Summer Camp of Musicians’ hosts artists and fans in the same setting, to foster a more intimate, creative environment. And it’s a mystery as to who’s playing the Midnight Show. So embrace the unknown, and bring the whole family—the event is family-friendly, with plenty of activities.
The fee for the entire festival is $195. But to find out more about ticket prices, come check out the Doe Bay Fest website.
We’re happy to say that the vast majority of the festivals on this list are cultural institutions—festivals long in the making, that have garnered a following over all of those years. And that includes the Blueberry Bluegrass Festival in Stony Plain, now entering its 33rd lap around the sun. As per usual, the festival is serving up bluegrass on three stages to thousands of fans, with headliners Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder returning again this year for another go. There’s a big emphasis placed on jamming here: hosted circles amongst players, new and old, are welcome, as are tents specifically made for jamming, which run 24 hours a day. And if the family is coming, you’ll have your pick of activities, food, and other craft vendors.
Ticket prices vary by the day. Friday is $40 CAD, and Saturday and Sunday jumps up to $60 CAD. To grab your tickets before it’s too late, go their website now.
This side of the Atlantic may be less aware of what exactly ‘Highland Games’ are, but let this festival in Ontario be a proper introduction. It’s everything you could ask for in the Scots and Celtic tradition: pipe band performance, competitions in highland dancing and heavies, a tug of war, a fiddling play, a kilt run, and whiskey tastings, to soak it all up. Some of the massed pipe bands include over 1,000 pipers and drummers, and they are set on making a lot of noise. It’s two days of this sort of partying, set with a ton of Scottish food and activities for kids. Ready to be quite literally blown away?
Entrance to the event goes for $25 CAD. Start swiping through photos on the Glengarry Highland Games website.
Didn’t we tell you there was an endless amount of things to do in Edmonton? After all the festivals it has in July, the Edmonton Heritage Festival is another one of them—this three-day outdoor free fair pays homage to over 85 cultures that call Edmonton, and Canada, home. The food, entertainment, and arts and crafts from these heritages are carefully spread out across 70 ethnic pavilions. Friends from the community are encouraged to come closer together in a conversation over customs, and traditions. And this one has been around for a while, too: 2018 will be its 43rd year in existence. There’s no alcohol at this event, as it’s catered to visitors of all ages, and food can be purchased with tickets.
As mentioned, the festival is entirely free—as every heritage festival should be. Find out the cultures being represented this year on the Edmonton Heritage Festival website.
Happening that same weekend in Alberta is the Canmore Folk Music Festival, the longest running festival of its kind in the region. Since 1978, this cultural event in Centennial Park has seen close to 21,000 fans travel from across Canada, the U.S., and beyond for a full weekend of folk, world, blues, and roots music. Luckily, it’s a long weekend with Heritage Day, so there’s a ton of time to see the 30+ acts or performers who will grace the stages here. There’s serious space for family members of all ages, with a children’s zone of puppets and activities, and a free concert is hosted downtown on Friday, to effectively launch the festival. Oh, and the Rocky Mountains are a better backdrop than ever for a festival like this. Correct us if we’re wrong!
Tickets go for $45, and can be purchased through the Canmore Folk Music Festival here.
Your eyes deceive you—this festival is in Edmonds, Washington, not Edmonton, Alberta, as a few of the past entries have been. What we have here is three stages of live music, and entertainment, for a weekend-long event that essentially serves the town of Edmonds on a silver platter. Over 35 food vendors, 100 arts and crafts suppliers, and a beer and wine garden that can fit 3,000 people. Kids can enjoy a large play space for free, while the parents go wild at the tournaments held here. ‘Taste’ everything Edmonds has to offer, in one fell swoop.
Ticket prices start at $3. More information on what’s being served this year can be found on the Taste Edmonds website here.
And you thought we’d only include one Highland Games on this list? Then you’re vastly mistaken. The show goes on in Fergus, and has been for 73 years now, attracting an annual audience of 20,000 people. And for good reason: this is the largest, longest Highland Games in Canada, and a stalwart amongst those honouring Scottish heritage in the country. The four pillars of the Games—highland dance, heavies competitions, pipes, and drums—are at the center of the three-day event, and over 50 clans come to compete. This year, the star of Outlander, Graham McTavish, will be the featured guest of honor. So save a ticket to Scotland, and head up north. The Games await you…
Ticket prices vary between $19 and $23. If you’re up to compete, then start at the website here.
But that isn’t the only festival happening in Ontario that weekend that celebrates that part of Europe—nearby in Goderich is the Goderich Celtic Roots Festival, a three-day event that celebrates the music, craft, and culture of the Celtic lands, whose residents have long called Huron County in Canada as home. The five stages vary in size and performances, but there’s something for everyone, with over 60 hours of live music, including both big blowouts and smaller acts. There’s also plenty of Celtic food from local sources, art demonstrations, a widely used beer garden, and a market in the evening. It’s time to explore your Irish side.
Ticket prices go up to $35. For more information on the Goderich Celtic Roots Festival, hit their website here.
And we end this list back, once again, in Edmonton, Alberta. But for a festival unlike the rest—this is Animethon, a three-day festival dedicated to the world-famous genres of anime, cosplay, and gaming. The event is entirely run by volunteers, and doesn’t collect any profit; a true fan-to-fan experience, one that strives for diversity and inclusivity in the community. So if you’re a lover of Dragonball or Cowboy Bebop or Twitch, or Fortnight—or all of the above, really—then this is the festival for you. Don’t miss it before summer’s end.
Tickets to Animethon go for $25. Here’s where you can find them.