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Maybe it’s the long winters, maybe it’s the burgeoning, vibrant music scene, or maybe it’s a combination of the two – but when spring arrives, Toronto explodes with music festivals. You’d be hard-pressed to find a weekend during the warmer months when there ISN’T a festival going on in our city. The best part? From rock to hip hop, EDM to jazz, from festivals where you can camp all weekend to kid-friendly fests, there’s something for everyone!
Canadian Music Week
May 1 to May 10, 2015.
The official sign that winter is over and the music is back, Canadian Music Week (or, CMW) is part multi-venue music festival and part conference. As the industry folk gather for panel discussions, you can grab a wristband and take in hundreds of indie bands at clubs and venues all over Toronto all week long. For a little extra money, you can also get into their bigger headlining acts, like Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds or Billy Talent.
Perfect for: Finding that new unknown band.
More: Canadian Music Week
CBC Music Festival
May 23, 2015.
“CBC” and “beach party” may not be things you’d normally associate with each other, but this one day Canadian-focused music fest brings artists like Bahamas, Joel Plaskett and even Fred Penner out to Echo Beach. If you want laughs, you can catch a live edition of CBC Radio 1’s “The Debaters”!
Perfect for: Catching up on your Cancon.
More: CBC Music Festival
Field Trip Music & Arts
June 6 & 7, 2015.
Want the festival experience but don’t want to find a babysitter? Field Trip Music & Arts is putting a bigger focus than ever on being family-friendly this year: kids under 12 get in free, and there are lots of activities for the young ‘uns and performers including Sharon & Bram (of Elephant Show fame!). But there’s lots for the older crowd too, including headliners Alabama Shakes and My Morning Jacket. Held at the Historic Fort York, Field Trip was founded by Toronto indie label Arts & Crafts (Broken Social Scene), so expect LOTS of Toronto love.
Perfect for: The “Festival Experience” without leaving downtown!
More: Field Trip Music & Arts
June 12 & 13, 2015.
Who cares if it’s not “officially” summer yet? Bestival happens at Hanlan’s Point on the Toronto Island and it’s the very first time Bestival has happened outside of its original home on England’s Isle of Wight. Artists playing rock, pop, EDM, hip hop and more will come together on the beach for two wild days in the sun.
Perfect for: Getting a jumpstart on summer… and dancing in the sand.
North By Northeast
June 17 to 21, 2015.
You might have heard about NXNE’s slightly more famous older sister- Austin’s SXSW Festival – but NXNE is getting bigger and better every year. And it’s not just music, either. There’s art, film, comedy and technology to explore too. Get yourself a wristband and dive in to hundreds of shows at tons of local venues – or just enjoy the FREE headlining shows at Yonge Dundas Square.
Perfect for: Perfect for: Being part of a city-wide party!
More: North By Northeast
TD Toronto Jazz Festival
June 18 to 27, 2015.
The Jazz Festival shows up just in time to ease the NXNE party hangover with smooth sounds that take over the entire city. Over 27 years, the Toronto Jazz Festival has become of one of the most well-regarded jJazz fests on the continent. You can enjoy more than 1500 musicians over 10 days – and several of the events are free at the Mainstage Marquee at Nathan Phillips Square in the heart of the city.
Perfect for: Taking in some serious culture.
More: TD Toronto Jazz Festival
June 27 to 28, 2015.
No sooner than the jazz fest improvises its last solo – the beat drops over at The Flats at Ontario Place for Canada’s biggest electronic music festival, Digital Dreams. Two full days of DJs and dancing, culminating with Grammy-winning headliner Armin Van Buuren. Remember to wear something comfortable and to bring lots of water. No kids allowed.
Perfect for: Getting sweaty and losing your mind.
More: Digital Dreams
Wayhome Music & Arts Festival
July 24 to 26, 2015.
Though not technically within Toronto’s city-limits, we’d be remiss to leave out Wayhome in this list. A three-day camping and music festival taking place just outside of Barrie at Burl’s Creek Event Park, Wayhome is set to become the Ontario version of Bonnaroo – in fact, it’s produced in part by one of Bonnaroo’s co-founders! Headliners include Sam Smith, Kendrick Lamar, Hozier, Alt-J and Modest Mouse.
Perfect for: Totally immersing yourself in the magic. (Also, not showering.)
VELD Music Festival
August 1 & 2, 2015.
Another two days of electronic music, this time taking over Downsview Park on the August long weekend, VELD welcomes two massive headliners: dutch DJ Hardwell and Canadian megastar Deadmau5.
Perfect for: Practising your glowstick moves, getting really close to strangers
More: VELD Music Festival
August 2 & 3, 2015.
Drake loves his hometown and one way he shows it is by throwing his massive rap and hip hop blow-out OVO Fest every summer in Toronto. For two days at the Molson Amphitheatre you can catch acts like J.Cole, Big Sean and, of course, Drake himself. There are still special guests to be announced for this all-ages show, and with Drake’s connections, you can bet they’ll be impressive. It all takes place on Caribana weekend so the party doesn’t have to stop when the show’s over!
Perfect for: Experiencing that hometown pride.
More: OVO Fest
Toronto Urban Roots Festival
September 18 to 20, 2015.
A downtown rock and roots festival. No line-up announced yet, but last year’s lineup included Neutral Milk Hotel, Sam Roberts Band and Violent Femmes.
RIOTFest & Expo
September 19 & 20, 2015.
A rock festival at Downsview Park. Not many line-up details yet, but they’ve announced that beloved hardcore band Alexisonfire will be reuniting to play this year’s festival!
More: RIOTFest & Expo- See more at: http://www.seetorontonow.com/my-toronto/its-music-festival-time/#sthash.e9sntjvP.dpuf
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