10 Best Canadian Summer Festivals

’Tis the season for summer festivals! While there are too many to mention, we’ve narrowed down the list to a handful of our favourites on this side of the border. (Hint: These all make fantastic date ideas. So buy two tickets.)

Here are (some of) the best Canadian summer festivals:

1. Dawson City Music Festival, Yukon

This July, catch the 37th annual Dawson City Music Festival in Dawson City, Yukon. Known as the nation’s “tiny, perfect festival” for its “grassroots spirit” and for showcasing a diverse selection of artists from the Yukon, Canada, and the rest of the world, this year’s festival will feature Corb Lund and the Hurtin’ Albertans, Lisa LeBlanc, The Pack A.D., among others.

A new addition to the festival in 2015: Yukon Girls Rock Camp, a weeklong camp open to 25 Yukon girls ages 8 to 16, in which campers will learn the basics of an instrument — and start their long, rocky journey to rock ’n’ roll fame.

Bonus: Unlike other festivals on the list, this one has the added benefit of the midnight sun: 22 hours of daylight.

For tickets and more info: http://www.dcmf.com/

2. Pemberton Music Festival, British Columbia

Not far from towering Mount Currie, this four-day music festival offers 30,000 festival-goers both gorgeous views and a schedule packed with hit artists.

This year’s lineup includes Kendrick Lamar, The Black Keys, J. Cole, Tiësto, Hozier, Kid Cudi, Missy Elliot, Weezer. (Nick Offerman, Tim & Eric, Reggie Watts and other comedians will also make appearances.)

Stay in nearby Whistler, or opt for a camping pass and pitch a tent on the festival grounds.

For tickets and more info: http://pembertonmusicfestival.com/

3. Edmonton International Fringe Festival, Alberta

Held in mid-August, the Edmonton International Fringe Festival is the largest and longest-running fringe theatre festival in the world, featuring over 200 shows every year and attracting more than 600,000 festival-goers. This year’s “silly” theme: SupercaliFRINGEilistic.

Honourable mention: Earlier in the month, Edmonton is home to the Edmonton Folk Festival, one of the world’s leading folk festivals.

For tickets and more info: https://www.fringetheatre.ca/festival_2015.php

4. Calgary Stempede, Alberta

Grab a hat and oversized belt buckle and embrace your inner cowboy (or girl). The 10-day Calgary Stampede is one party you don’t want to miss. There are events for kids, agriculture showcases, a midway, big-name musical acts like Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert, and, most importantly, with more than $2 million available in prize money, the world’s richest tournament-style rodeo.

For tickets and more info: http://www.calgarystampede.com/

5. Hillside Festival, Guelph, Ontario

On the last weekend in July, music lovers gather at Guelph Lake Conservation Area for a three-day event featuring a variety of styles and influences at what is known worldwide as “one of Canada’s most progressive, environmentally conscious, completely non-corporate community festivals,” complete with a diverse musical lineup and impressive selection of food and craft vendors.

This year’s artists include the Constantines, Great Lake Swimmers, Mo Kenney, Sultans of String, and everyone’s favourite childhood entertainer, Fred Penner.

Coming from out of town? You’re in luck — if you act fast. A limited number of campsites are available to festival-goers. Make the festival a weekend getaway.

For tickets and more info: http://hillsidefestival.ca/

6. Toronto International Film Festival, Ontario

As summer comes to an end, film lovers and the who’s who of Canadian, Hollywood and International cinema all flock to Toronto for the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Get an inside look at award season — Oscar winners tend to debut here — at what’s considered to be the second most important film festival in the world. (Top spot goes to Cannes.)

For tickets and more info: http://tiff.net/festivals/thefestival

7. Le Festival d’été de Québec, Quebec City, Quebec

In mid-July, one of Canada’s biggest music festivals takes place over 11 days in historic downtown Québec City. This year, the eclectic lineup includes big names like The Rolling Stones, Foo Fighters, Nickelback and Keith Urban alongside top emerging artists of all genres, and features 300 shows spread out among 10 venues.

Unlike pricier festivals, an all-inclusive transferable pass cost just $78, making this a go-to block party — including street performers, activities for the kids, and after-hours shows — that won’t break the bank.

For tickets and more info: http://www.infofestival.com/

8. Festival International de Jazz de Montreal, Quebec

For jazz fans, the world’s biggest jazz festival — it has the Guinness World Record to prove it — is not to be missed. Three thousand musicians from 30 countries attract more than 2 million festival-goers each July. (Bonus: about two-thirds of the 1,000 performances are free outdoor concerts.)

2015’s event, which wrapped up in early July, featured a long impressive lineup of artists, including Doyle Bramhall II, Chris Botti, Erykah Badu, Joss Stone, Molly Johnson, Jamie Callum, Huey Lewis and the News, and the Barr Brothers.

Honourable mention: Also in July, Montreal is home to the Just for Laughs Festival. Some of this year’s featured funny folks include Norm MacDonald, Ellie Kemper, Neil Patrick Harris, Trevor Noah and Sir Patrick Stewart.

For tickets and more info: http://www.montrealjazzfest.com/

9. RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest, Ottawa, Ontario

Billboard Magazine named Bluesfest one of the top 10 music festivals in the world. Since its debut in 1994, the festival has grown into a two-week-long music showcase attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors and featuring some of the best (and most diverse) musical talent in the world. Among this year’s artists: Weird Al Yankovic, Blue Rodeo, Kanye West, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Marianas Trench, Randy Bachman and The Tragically Hip.

For tickets and more info: http://www.ottawabluesfest.ca/

10. Cavendish Beach Music Festival, PEI

In mid-July, more than 70,000 visitors descend on Cavendish Beach to see some of the biggest names in country music at what has become Atlantic Canada’s largest multi-day outdoor music festival. This year’s lineup includes Keith Urban, Eric Church and Brantley Gilbert.

For tickets and more info: http://cavendishbeachmusic.com/

What’s your favourite summer festival?

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