Canada's best down-home music festivals

Six niche indie fests where you can dance your heart out under the starlit sky.


It’s a tough feat to find a music festival where you aren’t fighting through a crowd of 80,000 to catch a glimpse of the stage or missing the band completely because a trip to the loo takes the afternoon. Coast to coast, here’s where we will be catching our fave bands, hassle free.


Rock the Shores, Victoria, July 13-14

The setting: Inhale the fresh Pacific air and fist pump to a weekend-long set of rock ‘n’ roll on stunning Vancouver Island.

The scene: Break out your cut-off denim shorts and get lost in a roaring crowd of 10,000.

Top acts: City and Colour, Weezer and Matt Good.


Keloha, Kelowna, B.C., July 5-7

The setting: Held in Waterfront Park, located in the heart of downtown Kelowna. Wipe your flip-flops on the doorstep of this Hawaiian-themed paradise and say “aloha” to an exotic vacation in your country’s backyard.

The scene: Don your swim trunks and panama hat and strike a pose in this sun-kissed crowd of 15,000.

Top acts: MGMT, Arkells and Yukon Blonde.


Ness Creek Music Festival, Big River, Sask., July 18-21

The setting: Camp out at this four-day fam-friendly fest tucked away in the boreal forest. If you’re short on hot dogs or marshmallows, share some eats at the cool potluck-inspired community kitchen.

The scene: Impromptu drum and dance circles are common in this eco-savvy group of 3,000.

Top acts: The Wooden Sky, Amelia Curran and Elliott Brood.


Northern Lights Festival Boréal, Sudbury, Ont., July 5-7

The setting: Dance barefoot under the northern lights, work up a sweat, then take a dip in Lake Ramsey, which is just feet from the festival site.

The scene: Feel the breeze blow through your long, flowing skirt with 15,000 groovy people by your side.

Top acts: Serena Ryder, Buck 65 and the Good Family.


Hillside Festival, Guelph Lake Island, Ont., July 26-28

The setting: Take a break from cityscapes in a lawn chair by the lake while taking in a variety of musical genres and spoken word.

The scene: Get artsy at this eco-friendly festival and craft floral crowns for yourself and your 6,000 fun-loving friends.

Top acts: Diamond Rings, Hayden and Said the Whale.


Evolve Music and Awareness Festival, Antigonish County, N.S., July 19-21

The setting: Imagine Woodstock, but smaller, as you walk through a sea of tie-dyed T-shirts and camper vans in a privately owned field.

The scene: Snap a pic of yourself among a colourful crowd of 5,000.

Top acts: Xavier Rudd, Classified and Keys N Krates.