The five best music fests coming to Toronto this summer
The season's best fests aren't just sweaty singalongs—they feature gourmet food trucks, artisanal cocktails, inflatable churches and so much more
June 4 and 5, Fort York and Garrison Common
The headliners: Infectious Swedish pop star Robyn, lush country rockers the National, ethereal autoharpist Basia Bulat.
The crowd: Weekend hipsters and their plaid-shirted progeny—there’s family-friendly interactive art and a special performance area for kids.
The extras: Chef Ivy Knight will be teaching cooking classes, and the fabulous food truck roster features Buster’s Sea Cove, the Food Dudes, and Rose and Sons.
June 11 and 12, Woodbine Park
The headliners: Enduring English new wavers the Cure, psychedelic Aussie band Tame Impala, experimental art-rocker Grimes.
The crowd: Freewheeling revellers who come for the trippy carnival shenanigans (marching bands, flash mobs, circus troupes, and a costume parade and party) as much as for the music itself.
The extras: There’s a Bollywood tent filled with Indian daybeds and DJs, a Day of the Dead–themed bus with special performances and artisanal cocktails, and the signature inflatable church (like a bouncy castle) for cabaret performances and non–legally binding weddings.
North by Northeast
June 13 to 19, The Port Lands (June 17 and 18), plus various other venues
The headliners: Wu-Tang alumnus Ghostface Killah, earnest folk crooner Father John Misty, spectral soul singer Cold Specks.
The crowd: Indie hip hop fans and hard-core music geeks who appreciate the obscure lineup.
The extras: This year, the fest expands beyond the zoo at Yonge-Dundas Square to the Port Lands, allowing for a bonanza of new food trucks, beer gardens and intimate sets on smaller stages.
Boots and Hearts
August 4 to 7, Burl’s Creek Event Grounds, Oro-Medonte
The headliners: Legendary twanger Tim McGraw, reality TV drawler and Gwen Stefani squeeze Blake Shelton, bluegrass deity Dierks Bentley.
The crowd: Stetson-hatted honky-tonkers, country bros, aspiring superstars hoping Shelton will stop by the open-mike tent.
The extras: In keeping with the down-home theme, there are campgrounds for tents and RVs, and midnight concerts for late-night line dancing, plus bull riding, beer tents, food vendors and a craft market.
August 19 to 21, Artscape Gibraltar Point, Toronto Islands
The headliners: Cleveland buzz band Cloud Nothings, dreamy synth-pop outfit Young Galaxy, local noise rockers Odonis Odonis.
The crowd: Nostalgia-crazed Queen Westers seeking the adult camping experience—festival-goers and performers pitch tents on the beach at Gibraltar Point and sing around the sanctioned bonfire.
The extras: Past iterations have featured capture the flag games, morning jogs with the musicians and wacky art installations.