Listening to live music and being out in nature are already two deeply satisfying activities on their own, but summer is the best time to combine them both together for the ultimate good time. Here are some of the biggest backcountry music festivals happening across Canada this summer.
Dauphin’s Countryfest – Dauphin, Manitoba
Attracting more than 14,000 fans, Canada’s longest-running country music festival takes place June 25-28 with chart-topping country stars like Miranda Lambert, Jake Owen, and Brantley Gilbert headlining the main stage this year. Located on the edge of Riding Mountain National Park at the Selo Ukraina site in Dauphin, Manitoba, this four-day fest offers a wide range of camping spots (but be warned that the Back 40 section has been known to get rowdy).
Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival – Salmon Arm, British Columbia
The Salmon Arm Fair Grounds by Shuswap Lake, with Mount Ida and the Fly Hills in the background, is the picturesque setting for this three-day music fest, being held August 14-16 this year. From Blues to Bluegrass, Celtic to Cuban and Americana to Afro-beat, high-profile acts tend to headline here, and Canned Heat and John Oates (of Hall & Oates fame) are part of the lineup this time around.
Tall Tree Music Festival – Port Renfrew, British Columbia
With an ideal setting atop Browns Mountain (campers are rewarded with spectacular views in the morning), this non-profit, boutique festival places an emphasis on environmental sustainability—it’s a “leave no trace” event—and has supported the Ancient Forest Alliance in the past. This year’s incarnation takes place June 26-28 and features acts like Alex Cuba and Yukon Blonde.
Mariposa Folk Festival – Orillia, Ontario
Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez have all performed at this well-known folk festival that’s been around for more than 55 years. Adam Cohen, Lucinda Williams, and Mary Chapin Carpenter are on the folk festival’s bill this year, which runs from July 3-5 in Orillia’s Tudhope Park. In addition to music, there are Community and Artisans’ Villages to explore and camping is offered on the Pete Seeger Memorial Campground.
Northern Lights Festival Boréal – Sudbury, Ontario
Taking place by Lake Ramsey in Bell Park from July 3-5, this bilingual, eclectic fest is Canada’s oldest, and features a variety of music genres from roots to world to indie. Headliners this year include Canadian darlings Dan Mangan + Blacksmith and Sarah Harmer.
Cavendish Beach Music Festival – Cavendish, Prince Edward Island
What was once a cow pasture now hosts the largest multi-day outdoor music festival in Atlantic Canada. More than 70,000 country music lovers come to camp and enjoy big-name acts like Keith Urban, Steve Earle + the Dukes, and Eric Gilbert, who are all headlining this year’s fest taking place from July 10-12.
Pemberton Music Festival – Pemberton, British Columbia
This behemoth of a music fest takes place near Mount Currie in Pemberton Valley. This year’s edition is July 16-19, and the lineup includes big-name bands like Jane’s Addiction, The Black Keys, and Sam Roberts Band as well as comedy acts like Cheech & Chong and Tim & Eric. Camping options range from basic to super VIP, and last year around 25,000 people attended.
Folk on the Rocks – Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
Deemed one of Canada’s top 10 music festivals by the CBC, Folk on the Rocks is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year from July 17-19. Held on the shores of Long Lake in the Northwest Territories, the fest features musicians from Northern Canada as well as artists from elsewhere. This year’s acts include Corb Lund, Tanya Tagaq, and Dan Mangan + Blacksmith.
Ness Creek Music Festival – Big River, Saskatchewan
Like Woodstock, except in Northern Saskatchewan, this family-friendly fest taking place this year between July 16 and 19 is set on 320 acres of boreal forest bordering the west side of Prince Albert National Park. While music is definitely a big part of the fest (Buck 65 headlines this year), there’s also a drum and dance circle, eco-village, community kitchen, and artisan market, among many other things to explore here.
Dawson City Music Festival – Dawson City, Yukon
Running since 1979, this annual music fest is the highlight of the Yukon summer. With a main stage tent in Minto Park and several other venues around the tiny town, this year’s fest runs from July 24-26 and will feature acts like The Slocan Ramblers and Corb Lund and the Hurtin’ Albertans.
WayHome – Oro-Medonte, Ontario
Neil Young headlines the first night of the inaugural edition of this music, arts, and camping festival at Burl’s Creek Event Grounds running July 24-26, and over 70 other acts are scheduled to perform over the course of three days. All WayHome tickets include camping, and options go from basic tent camping to deluxe VIP glamping.
Boots and Hearts – Oro-Medonte, Ontario
From August 6-9, this country music and camping festival takes over Burl’s Creek Event Grounds (the same venue as WayHome) in Oro-Medonte. Brad Paisley, Eric Church, Florida Georgia Line, Justin Moore, and Little Big Town are at the top of the bill this year, and cowboy hats will abound.
Turtle Music Festival – Parry Sound, Ontario
With more than 20 bands playing across two stages over 24 hours, this year’s Turtle Music Festival takes place August 1-2 in Kinsmen Park by Parry Sound. Acts include Great Lake Swimmers, I Mother Earth, and a big yet-to-be-announced headliner, with proceeds from the fest being donated to the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve.
Riverfest Elora – Elora, Ontario
Held August 14-16 along the banks of the Grand River in Elora’s Bissell Park, Riverfest has added an extra day to the fest this year due to last year’s sold-out success. With acts like Bruce Cockburn, Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea, Metric, and Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings on the bill, it’s sure to be a hot ticket this summer as well.
Havelock Country Jamboree – Havelock, Ontario
Bringing the soul of Nashville (and country music fans from all over) to the small town of Havelock from August 13-16, the Country Jamboree boats a lineup of musicians that includes Clint Black, Big & Rich, Gord Bamford, Tanya Tucker and Brent Kissel this year. Single-day passes don’t allow camping, but if you go for more than two days, the camping-included weekend pass is definitely the better deal.