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10 noteworthy North American summer music festivals

Published June 2nd, 2014

Any hipster worth their Spotify playlist knows all about Lollapalooza – the mack daddy of music festivals, the celeb-populated Coachella and the buzzworthy SXSW, but what about the other major events that entice music fans across North America during the summer? Whatever genre you’re into, from EDM to punk and hard metal to hip-hop, you could do a roadtrip of music festivals across Canada and the USA.  So, pack your band tee and cut-offs, load up the RV, get your indie playlist downloaded and make tracks to see these 10 noteworthy North American summer music festivals. Note: the drinking age in Canada is 18; however the legal age in the US is 21.

 

 

The Governors Ball Music Festival

An epic three-day weekender where the food options may just rival the big-name acts across the four stages. Take a ferry or bus to Randall’s Island Park along the East River, stake out your best vantage point, and get down at the Gov Ball. If 11 hours of music a day just ain’t enough for you, maybe don some headphones at the silent disco or get into the lawn games.  Giant jenga, anyone? Noshing is next level this year with some serious food truck offerings.

Where: Randall’s Island, New York City, New York
When: June 6 – 8, 2014
Headliners: Outkast, The Strokes, Vampire Weekend

 

Bonnaroo

Bonnaroo music and arts festival is one of the must-attends on the summer fest calendar. Centeroo is where it all goes down at Which Stage, This Tent, That Tent, The Other Tent, the Cinema and the Comedy Theatre, plus there’s satellite stages and What Stage, the main venue. Expect to swelter in the searing Tennessee sun on the farm site where camping options range from tents to RVs. Look out for a group of big names taking to the stage at the legendary Bonnaroo SuperJams.

Where: Manchester, Tennessee
When: June 12 – 15, 2014
Headliners: Elton John, Kanye West, Phoenix

 

NXNE

Austin has SXSW; Toronto has North by Northeast Festivals and Conference, a hub for emerging creatives and visionaries across comedy, music, film, art and interactive media, plus the odd headlining artiste. Now in its 20th year, the 10-day celebrates the cutting edge and on-the-cusp creatives, but pace yourself – there’s over 400 music acts alone spread across venues all over the city. Don’t miss the VICELAND section taking over downtown Toronto.

Where: Toronto, Ontario
When: June 13 - 22, 2014
Headliners: Sleigh Bells, St. Vincent, Krazy Drayz

 

 

Firefly Music Festival

Taking place within woodland grounds, this four-day musical extravaganza is a newbie to the festival scene with just two summer festival seasons under its bumbag (fanny pack). The start-up brings the big guns with an awesome lineup of past and present indie faves, RV camping and glamping options, and a slew of forest-themed hipster attractions like a hammock hangout, a silent disco in The Thicket and The Hub farmers markets and yoga sessions.

Where: Dover, Delaware
When: June 19-22, 2014
Headliners: Foo Fighters, Jack Johnson, Beck

 

Ottawa Bluesfest

One of the heavy hitters when it comes to outdoor music festivals, Ottawa Bluesfest has been packing ‘em in for 20 years with 250,000 revellers alone last year. And it ain’t just about the blues, the Bluesfest has one of the most eclectic lineups where country crooners, pop tarts and indie rockers share top billing. The now 10-day extravaganza happens across multiple stages at LeBreton Flats Park in Canada’s capital city.

Where: Ottawa, Ontario
When: July 3 – 13, 2014
Headliners: Lady Gaga, Queens of the Stone Age, Snoop Dogg (Lion)

 

Osheaga Festival Musique et Arts

Does everything sound better in French? Well, how does Parc Jean Drapeau on Ile Ste-Hélène in Montreal sound as a venue? Pretty schmancy, right? Luckily the bangin’ lineup keeps the three-day Osheaga Music and Arts Festival from being too refined with a great mix of established and emerging musical acts from around the globe on five stages, a Block Party event plus an array of cuisines from the city’s renowned food trucks.
Where: Montreal, Quebec
When: August 1 – 3, 2014
Headliners: Jack White, Arctic Monkeys, Skrillex

 

 

Veld Music Festival

If you’re not at Osheaga, maybe join the crowd at Canada’s largest electronic music festival on the same weekend. Yep, get ready to cut some shapes and freestyle in your fluoro at the Veld Music Festival in Toronto’s Downsview Park. A must for EDM devotees, don’t miss the after parties, epic light shows, outdoor stages and hands-in-the-air party tents. FYI: glow sticks are not allowed at the venue (insert sad face).

Where: Toronto, Ontario
When: August 2 – 3, 2014
Headliners: Armin Van Buuren, Calvin Harris, Knife Party

 

Squamish Valley Music Festival

Ski fields by winter, raging mosh pit come summer, Squamish is 30 minutes from Whistler and easy to get to by car or bike. Now in its fifth year, Squamish Valley Music Festival (SVMF) is a three-day mix of chart-topping idols and indie darlings. There’ll be four camping areas, four stages and a bigger venue (Centennial Fields) to welcome over 35,000 music fans per day. The backdrop of evergreen forests and mountains is breathtaking.

Where: Squamish, British Columbia
When: August 8 -10, 2014
Headliners: Eminem, Bruno Mars, Arcade Fire

 

TomorrowWorld

Things may be starting to cool down weather-wise in the US of A, but TomorrowWorld keeps the beat hot with a who’s who of dance music divas and doyens. Worth going to for the venue name alone, TomorrowWorld takes revellers on a global journey into sound. Camp in DreamVille. Attend The Gathering welcome event. Seek the mystical or just a massage at the MarketPlace. Yep, join the people of tomorrow on their quest for dance beats and eats.

Where: Chattahoochee Hills, Atlanta, Georgia
When: September 26 -28, 2014
Headliners: Avicii, David Guetta, Diplo

 

Austin City Limits

So, the summer festival season may be officially done and dusted but we couldn’t resist squeezing in this one. Austin City Limits (ACL) at Zilker Park may see a lot of the usual festival suspects (ahem Outkast, Skrillex and Calvin Harris) but what makes this event different is the cooler temps and laidback vibe across two weekends. When you’re not checking out the 130-plus musos on the lineup, amble over to Austin Eats and the art market.

Where: Austin, Texas
When: October 3 - 5, 10 – 12, 2014
Headliners: Pearl Jam, Lana Del Rey, Lorde

 

 

Cassandra Laffey

Consumed with unrequited wanderlust, I get my fix in 24/7 cities and hippie retreats. I'm still looking for the ultimate combo of secluded beach and major metropolis, and my happy place is a 5-star hotel room all to myself - sigh.