Music festivals evoke a certain feeling that you just can’t get anywhere else. There's a giddy, carefree happiness that only comes from being surrounded by people you don’t know, coming together to enjoy incredible music, delicious food and drink, and exciting events.
Canadian music festivals are known for being some of the best in the world, attracting artists from just about every genre to venues in spectacular locations.
With events being held in every territory throughout the summer season, knowing which ones to attend can be tricky. To help, we've rounded up a list of the top music festivals in Canada that you should go to if you want to be guaranteed good times!
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The Best Music Festivals in Canada
Countless music festivals take place across Canada each year, which means there's something for every music taste. Whether you'd rather listen to some smooth jazz under the night sky or be beckoned to the dancefloor by big electronic beats, here are 6 of the most exciting 2023 Canadian music festivals that are great for both newbies and concert junkies alike.
1. Montreal International Jazz Festival, Quebec
If you're a jazz lover, you can't do much better than the largest jazz festival on the planet. That's why we're kicking off our list with the world-renowned Montreal International Jazz Festival. There are an astounding 1,000 concerts performed by 3,000 artists from over 30 countries, uniting concertgoers with sophisticated harmonies and unique melodies over 11 days.
Don't just show up for the music. You can practice your bonjours and au revoirs over tasting menus, shop in chic boutiques, and snack on pastries and patisserie at an outdoor café to get the full French Canadian experience.
Where: Quartier des Spectacles, downtown Montreal
When: June 29 - July 8, 2023
Headliners include: Orville Peck, BADBADNOTGOOD, Thundercat, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Diana Krall, and Rodrigo y Gabriela.
2. Celtic Colours International Festival, Nova Scotia
Experience a truly unique 9 days & nights at the Celtic Colours International Festival. Taking place on the breathtaking Cape Breton Island and set against its rugged coastline is a vibrant festival, which will host 300 events focused on Celtic celebration and ceilidh (a Gaelic party!).
At any one of the many concerts, you’ll find some of the world’s finest musicians sharing the stage with Cape Breton’s best singers, dancers, players, and storytellers in venues ranging from schools and theatres to a reconstructed French chapel.
As the evening concerts are closing, the late-night festival club opens, running each night from 11 pm-3 am and offering artists a chance to perform in a more informal setting and giving you the chance to meet new friends from Nova Scotia and beyond.
Where: Cape Breton Island
When: October 6-14, 2023
Headliners include: Full schedule and lineup to be announced June 26.
3. Shambhala Music Festival, British Columbia
Tucked between the mountains and the Salmo River on a 500-acre farm, you’ll find Shambhala, Canada’s premiere electronic music festival. The festival lasts 4 days and 3 nights, offering cutting-edge sound, musical talent, lights, and art in the stunning nature of British Columbia.
There are 6 uniquely themed stages to enjoy, including the funky, spaceship-like Fractal Forest. Beyond the stages, you can find art installations and painted murals, yoga platforms and meditation nooks, craft workshops, and ethical and fair trade vendors. There’s even an organic garden in the middle of the grounds. This is an EDM festival for those who want to get back to nature.
When: July 21-24, 2023
Where: Salmo River Ranch, British Columbia
Headliners include: Black Tiger Sex Machine, Chase & Status, Excision, Gigantic NGHTMRE, Goldie, GriZ, and Hieroglyphics.
4. Osheaga Music and Arts Festival, Quebec
Since 2006, the Osheaga Music and Arts Festival has established itself as one of the most sought-after festivals in Canada. With six stages located at Parc Jean-Drapeau on Montreal’s Saint Helen’s Island, Osheaga attracts 135,000 music lovers from around the world.
You'll be able to discover local and national emerging talent, as Osheaga offers them the opportunity to play alongside some of the biggest international artists in the business. Experience a Montreal summer in the city listening to incredible and diverse artists and discovering fringe events and exhibitions around Montreal in the lead-up to the main event.
Where: Parc Jean-Drapeau, Montreal
When: August 4-6, 2023
Headliners include: Kendrick Lamar, Billie Eilish, and Rüfüs Du Sol.
5. Winnipeg Folk Festival, Manitoba
Now over 40 years old, Winnipeg Folk Festival has been a fan favourite for generations. Don't let the name fool you - this signature summer event mixes it up with not only traditional folk but alt-country, roots, gospel, blues, Celtic, French-Canadian, and world music.
Every July, audiences gather at Bird’s Hill Park to celebrate and enjoy exceptional music with family and friends, old and new. The organizers work hard to make sure it's more than just a festival. It's a community, a place full of inclusivity, kindness, and compassion where you and everyone around you can be unapologetically yourselves.
Where: Birds Hill Provincial Park
When: July 6-9, 2023
Headliners include: Vance Joy, The War on Drugs, Emmylou Harris, Fleet Foxes, Orville Peck, KT Tunstall, Rufus Wainwright, Charley Crockett, Sierra Ferrell, Faye Webster, and William Prince.
6. Boots and Hearts Music Festival, Ontario
At the annual Boots and Hearts Music Festival, you can camp under the stars at Burl’s Creek Event Grounds in stunning Oro-Medonte and listen to your favourite country stars. It's the largest camping and country music festival of its kind.
A 4-day celebration of country music, where you can band together with thousands of other country music fans and experience a once-in-a-lifetime event that you'll never forget. There's an eclectic mix of country music styles with 35+ artists performing on stage.
Where: Burl's Creek Event Grounds, Oro-Medonte
When: August 10-13, 2023
Headliners include: Nickelback, Keith Urban, and Tim McGraw.
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There you have it: whether your dream festival involves dancing in the soft grass to the sound of dreamy folk music or singing along at the top of your lungs with the world's biggest artists, Canada is the place to be.
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Are you curious to know more about what Canada has to offer? Why not Ask Genie to learn more? Or take a look at our recommendations below:
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FAQs on Canadian Music Festivals
What's the Biggest Country Music Festival in Canada?
Boots & Hearts Music Festival is the biggest and most popular camping country music festival in Canada and the second largest music festival in North America, behind only the CMA Music Festival.
What's the Biggest Music City in Canada?
Toronto is the largest centre for music in Canada. It's home to major and independent record labels, music festivals, event promoters, hundreds of recording studios and live music venues, and a wealth of performers across multiple genres.
What Are Typical Festivals in Canada?
Canada is the second biggest country in the world and it's influenced by a mix of British, French, and American cultures. This means you'll find a wealth of incredible cultural, religious, and musical festivals of varying genres, sizes, and locations.
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