Festivals to hit up this summer

It’s summertime, and that means one thing as far as you’re concerned: festival season. It kicked off in April with Coachella, and you were either too broke or have too much respect for yourself to go to that. But hey! Western Canada is home to a BUNCH of music festivals, and here are some to hit up this summer, from right here in the Lower Mainland to Alberta.

Vancouver

Vancouver Folk Fest

Price: $125 student weekend pass until June 9

When: July 13–16

There’s nothing better, as far as I’m concerned, than a good folk fest. Truly, these should be called singer-songwriter festivals, as folk music only encompasses a bit of what you get to hear down at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. Early bird tickets are still on sale, which means it’s a bargain (especially for students) if you want to catch the Barenaked Ladies, Kathleen Edwards, Billy Bragg, and more.

 

Khatsahlano

Price: free

When: July 8

A lovely little festival that takes place down in — you guessed it — Kitsilano, this West 4th Avenue street party returns this July. Taking place all day from Burrard to MacDonald, Khatsahlano just announced its lineup, headlined by hometown heartthrobs the Zolas. It’s all about showcasing the best of Vancouver, and there are lots of food options and beer gardens!

 

FVDED In The Park

Price: current cost is $199.50 for weekend general admission

When: July 7–8

If you’re looking for something on the other side of the scale as Khatsahlano both musically and geographically, you can spend the weekend in Surrey getting FVDED In The Park. Hailed as “more than just a standard music festival” by The Peak before, FVDED In The Park returns for its third summer with potentially its strongest lineup yet. Not only do they have the Chainsmokers and Wiz Khalifa, but artists like BADBADNOTGOOD and the Funk Hunters really round out the lineup.

Adventures in your own backyard

You really want to tour British Columbia and find out what makes it so beautiful, but Squamish got squashed recently and Pemberton just collapsed under the weight of capitalism. Don’t sweat it! There are still a ton of festivals you can hit up in BC this summer, and here are four to get you started.

Monster Energy Center of Gravity

Price: $189.95 + service fees for weekend general admission

When: July 28–30

Where: Kelowna

The Monster Energy Center of Gravity festival has been the biggest summer party in the Okanagan for the past decade, and that was solidified when it absorbed the Keloha festival back in 2014 (RIP Keloha, you were my first big road trip festival. You were too pure for Kelowna). This year, they’re back at it again, boasting a lineup featuring Marshmello, Peking Duk, and Snoop Dogg, who is a treat live whether you’re a fan or not.  

 

Shambhala

Price: $315 for extra early bird tickets

When: August 11–14

Where: Salmo River Ranch

If you’ve ever done drugs, you’re likely familiar with Shambhala. The electronic music taking place at a 500-acre cattle ranch near Nelson has been going at it for over two decades, and have earned their reputation as one of Canada’s largest electronic music festivals. This year, they’re showcasing Datsik, Adventure Club, the hilariously named Black Tiger Sex Machine, and more.

 

Rifflandia

Price: $100 + service charges for early bird super pass

When: September 14–17

Where: Victoria

There are tons of reasons to put up with BC Ferries’ absurd prices and head over to Vancouver Island — and Rifflandia is definitely one of them. It’s a little later in the summer, so this is definitely your goodbye to festival season should you hit it up. While the lineup hasn’t been announced yet, you have to imagine that they are going all out for their 10th anniversary.

 

Roots and Blues

Price: $89 student price until May 31, $99 afterwards

When: August 17–20

Where: Salmon Arm

What’s unquestionably the best thing happening in Salmon Arm? If you guessed the Roots and Blues fest, you are absolutely correct. Ignoring how low of a bar that is, the Roots and Blues fest is a hidden gem of festivals, with some serious talents performing for very little money, like Frazey Ford, DJ Shub (formerly part of A Tribe Called Red), Five Alarm Funk, and Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne, among others.  

Alberta

British Columbia is beautiful, but you really want to hit the open road this summer and go travelling for your festival experience . . . except gas is expensive, you’re a student, midterms are always lurking around the corner, and you have to make this quick. Here are some of the best options you can find just a tad to the east.  

Sled Island

Price: $214 for their discovery pass until June 18

When: June 21–25

Where: Calgary

Sled Island is way more than just a music festival, as it is five days’ worth of music, film, comedy, art, and more. It’s essentially SXSW, except it’s in Calgary and way more affordable. The guest curator this year is Flying Lotus, and they have handpicked a whole bunch of great acts to play beside. Beyond those, there are over 250 bands playing in-city, as well as comedians such as Aparna Nancherla (who recently appeared in Master of None) and Brent Weinbach.  

 

Interstellar Rodeo — Edmonton

Price: $215 for weekend non-transferable pass

When: July 21–23

Where: Edmonton

I promised myself a cap of just two folk fests this year, so I won’t be highlighting the Edmonton Folk Fest (which you should go to on August 10–13). Instead, if you’re going to head to Edmonton and not just for its absurd mall, a great festival to hit up is the Interstellar Rodeo! At the gorgeous Heritage Amphitheatre in Hawrelak Park, this festival features some pretty big hitters, including Broken Social Scene promoting their first album in seven years. If that doesn’t call to you, maybe Aloe Blacc or Serena Ryder will. And if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, there is also a similar lineup at the Interstellar Rodeo in Winnipeg from August 18–20.

 

Calgary Folk Fest

Price: $130 for student weekend pass

When: July 27–30

Where: Calgary

This is perhaps the best festival on this list, and while I’m totally biased as I’m part of the staff at Calgary Folk Fest, there is a reason I’ve been a dedicated patron/volunteer/staff member throughout the years. Located in the middle of downtown Calgary and spread out on beautiful Prince’s Island Park across seven (!!!) stages, this festival is a true joy. Taking place in late July, it will feature City and Colour, Holy Fuck, Tanya Tagaq, Dawes, John K. Samson & The Winter Wheat, Couer de Pirate, Barney Bentall, and many of the other names I’ve already mentioned appearing at other festivals. It’s the most magical thing that will happen this year, and if you are only going to travel to Calgary once this year, here is your reason.

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