When it comes to music, Toronto has a rich history that people often overlook. The city is star-studded when it comes to alumni, with the likes of Justin Bieber, Drake, The Weeknd and Neil Young all proudly waving the flag for their city.
It's not all about individual talent. The city also boasts an eclectic range of genre-hubs that they've preserved over time. They’ve paved the way for an array of different subcultures over the years, through jazz and blues, alternative rock and being at the front of the mainstream with pop and R'n'B.
With great music heritage, food and culture come great festivals. It's fair to say that Toronto is a perfect example of that. To help you prioritise your festival experience, we've rounded up some of the best in Toronto music festivals and some key details around them.
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The Top Toronto Music Festivals
Whatever type of musical festival you're interested in, Toronto will have something for you, from country music to electronic dance music and everything in between. Here are our top picks of music festivals you won't want to miss in T.O.
1. Veld Music Festival
Every year, the city opens its arms to Veld, one of the area's largest and most popular electronic dance music festivals. If it's tantalising instrumentals, dancing and light shows you're looking for this summer, you're in the right place. In recent years, Veld has broadened its horizons too, making space for popular rap and hip-hop acts alongside its core genre.
Taking place in the stunning Downsview Park over the span of a weekend, this outdoor music festival has hosted some huge names over the years since its conception in 2012, with genre icons like Calvin Harris and Deadmau5 gracing the Park's main stages.
With up to 100,000 people attending the festival, Veld Music Festival brings a magnetic, energetic and truly unique EDM experience, with acts old and new taking to the stages to make lasting memories.
Where: Downsview Park
When: August 4 - August 6, 2023
Headliners include: Loud Luxury, Tiesto, Aitch, Above and Beyond, Central Cee, Zedd
2. Boots and Hearts Music Festival
Taking it back to the old school, Boots and Hearts Festival is dedicated to keeping Toronto's love of country music alive. To fully immerse festival-goers in the sweet tones of country music, outdoor camping is available. Staying true to the genre, there's nothing like the privilege of looking up at the night sky before you go to sleep, after a day of listening to some of the best country music on the planet.
On average, Boots and Hearts see around 40,000 people attending each year, making way for some spellbinding acts over the past decade. Big artists include the likes of Alabama, Lionel Richie and Kid Rock to name a few.
This year, Canada's largest camping and country festival is going to be a big one, so here's all you music lovers need to know about Boots and Hearts.
Where: Burl's Creek Event Grounds, Oro-Medonte
When: August 10 - August 13, 2023
Headliners include: Keith Urban, Nickelback, Tim McGraw, Tim Hicks
3. North by Northeast
When it comes to a complete festival experience, it doesn't get much more well-rounded than North by Northeast. For nearly 30 years, NXNE has been on a mission to broaden the horizons of the musical world, giving a stage to thousands of newcomers, moments before they make it big.
The festival is about as inclusive as it gets, with tickets costing as little as $25 apiece. It's all about the live music, coming together to celebrate different musical styles and emerging artists.
If you're looking to come back from a festival with a broader musical palette, to the envy of all of your friends, here's where to find North by Northeast in 2024.
Where: 468 Queen Street West
When: TBA 2024.
Headliners include: TBA 2024.
4. Toronto Summer Music Festival
Bringing together some of the greats in the world of classical music, Toronto Summer Music is a chance for music lovers to experience the ethereal sounds of strings, french horns and woodwind in a sophisticated and wholesome environment.
Unlike its other colleagues on the roster, TSM takes place over the course of a few weeks across a selection of amazing live music venues across the city, making for a more relaxed, cultural experience as your enjoyment is spread over a month-long celebration.
Fans of the genre can expect to come away from the festival with the pleasure of hearing familiar masterpieces in person, alongside some brand-new favourites.
Where: Multiple stages across Toronto
When: July 6 - July 29, 2023
Headliners include: Aaron Schwebel, Adrian Fung, Adrian Steele, Alice Hong, Alexina Louie
5. Beaches International Jazz Festival
Saxophones, mesmerising drums and smooth melodies all night long. There's nothing quite like Jazz music. Beaches International Jazz Festival is one of the best around, hosting artists from around the world and offering both ticketed and free attending options.
Whether it's traditional, contemporary or Latin that takes your fancy, the organisers do a great job every year to ensure a vibrant and varied experience over the course of the festival. In recent years, genres have been split into different days, so that you know exactly what you're in for from day to day.
Situated in the Beaches Neighbourhood in Toronto, the locals make space for the festival, filling the street festival with food vendors, artisan markets and street performances. It's a unique, carnival atmosphere with a real balance and a tangible sense of community.
It's one of Canada's largest festivals and for good reason. Here are some of the key details about the proceedings.
Where: The Beaches Neighbourhood, Toronto
When: July 6 - July 30, 2023
Headliners include: Steele, Jay Douglas, Zach Zoya
6. Electric Island
If you're looking for extravagant, energetic, electrical fun, look no further. Electric Island is a techno-focussed festival with a lot of personality and is guaranteed to make your time in Toronto as memorable as possible.
True to its roots, the festival offers non-stop partying, with DJs and dance lovers coming together from across the globe to make a match made in heaven. Known for its scenic outdoor atmosphere, it's one of the best music festivals for its genre in the world.
It's not all about the party atmosphere, Electric Island also strives to be champions of sustainability, incorporating biodegradable materials, encouraging recycling and urging attendees to use public transport wherever possible.
The festival takes place four times over the course of the year, making it a great option for people who are always on the go.
Where: RBC Echo Beach, Toronto
When: July 1 - 2, August 11 - 12, September 2 - 3, 2023
Headliners include: John Summit, BOCO, Chris Lake, Greg Gow, TK Smoothe
Toronto and Caribbean music have some great history together, which is what makes it a perfect spot for what has become one of the most anticipated events on the city's calendar.
Caribana, also known as Toronto Caribbean Festival, is a celebration of Caribbean heritage in extravagant and amazing style. Usually taking place in the warm Toronto summers, the event features a series of events, including parades, concerts, parties, visual art exhibitions, and even culinary showcases. One of the main highlights of the Toronto Caribbean Carnival is the Grand Parade, which attracts massive crowds and features colourful floats, elaborate costumes, food trucks and infectious Caribbean music.
Caribbean music lovers far and wide can come together, dancing to the movingly joyful sounds of the steel drum to celebrate both their similarities and their differences. Here's some key info about the festival.
Where: 12 Cranfield Rd. Suite 210, Toronto, Ontario
When: August 3 - August 7, 2023
Headliners include: Rick Ross, Polo G, Lola Brook, DJ ENVY
8. Field Trip Music and Arts Festival
Founded by the famous independent record label, Field Trip Music and Arts is the place to be if you like to keep your ear close to the ground with the latest rising stars. The festival takes place over two days and features a varied lineup of musical acts, from local and international artists across genres. There really is something for everyone here. In the hubbub of the event, you can expect to see acts playing indie rock, alternative, folk, pop, and electronic music.
Being all about independence, the festival aims to showcase both established and emerging talent, providing a great platform for artists to connect with a wider audience.
Official dates for 2023 have not yet been released, but keep an eye on their website over the next month or so to find out who is playing and when.
Where: Fort York & Garrison Common
Headliners include: TBA
Try Something New With Help From Spin Genie
There you have it: whether your idea of the perfect Toronto festival involves dancing in the sunshine to the sound of dreamy folk music or taking in the ambient tones of some of the best classical music around, the city has it all.
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FAQs About Toronto Festivals
What age is Boots and Hearts for?
Boots and Hearts encourages fans and music lovers of all ages to attend, though it's worth adding that kids 12 and under can receive a free General Admission pass ONLY. They must be accompanied by someone who has purchased an event pass.
Where is Veld 2023?
Taking place at Downsview Park, the worlds of electronic and hip-hop music fuse together in downtown Toronto for this 2-day Canadian festival.
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