If you’re coming to Canada, there’s a music festival for you. That’s a given. The only question is, which one? An added perk: you’re sure to make some new Canadian friends in the crowd. Here are the top seven big music festivals on offer.
1. Celtic Colours International Festival, Nova Scotia
9 days and 300 events focused on Celtic celebration and ceilidh, hosted on the ruggedly gorgeous Cape Breton Island (North America’s only living Celtic culture). Concerts are set in many unique venues, including a beautifully reconstructed French chapel. Bonus tip: Why not learn Gaelic while you're there?
2. Montréal International Jazz Festival, Quebec
The Montréal Jazz Festival is the largest jazz festival on the planet, with 1,000 concerts and 3,000 artists from over 30 countries. The event spans over 11 days and attracts around two million attendees. But it’s not just about the music, it's about practicing your French while you linger over five-course tasting menus, shop in chic boutiques and snack on pain au chocolat at an outdoor café. For music lovers, both intimate concerts and open air crowd-pleasers are on the line-up.
3. Sourdough Rendezvous Festival, Yukon
The name is about as wacky as the event. In addition to mad fiddling, here are a few things to expect at this beloved Northern celebration that happens over the course of three days in February: can-can dancers, axe throwing, chainsaw chucking and competitions like dog howling and wife carrying. Don't forget the 16 hours of darkeness that provides the perfect opportunity to view the Aurora Borealis.
4. Winnipeg Folk Festival, Manitoba
The Winnipeg Folk Festival takes place over five days and includes seven performance stages and many headlining artists. This signature summer event mixes it up with traditional folk, alt country, roots, gospel, blues, Celtic, French-Canadian and world music. Looking to learn to do it yourself? Try a song writing workshops or instrument lesson. Looking for a place to rest your head? Camping is the way to go, since the action takes place outside at Birds Hill Provincial Park.
5. Osheaga Festival Musique et Arts, Quebec
Also hosted in Montréal, Osheaga is a mulit-day festival that spotlights local and national emerging talent, know for inviting newbies to play alongside international stars like Coldplay, Arcade Fire, Eminem, Beck and The Cure. Numerous outdoor stages are arranged at Parc Jean-Drapeau on the city’s Saint Helen Island, attracting over 135,000 music lovers to hear 100 different bands.
6. Craven Country Jamboree, Saskatchewan
Going since 1983, this is “one of the granddaddies of music festivals.” It’s an annual country music shindig that takes place over four days every July in the Qu’Appelle Valley near Craven; here you'll find bull riding, hypnotists, saloon dance party and song-writer circles, too. Greats like Garth Brooks, Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton and John Denver have played Craven. On the jamboree’s very first stage, Ray Orbison performed. Need we say more?