Winter Music Festivals Toronto

5 winter music festivals in Toronto for 2013

Winter music festivals worth checking out in Toronto this year

Summer music festivals are so 2012 (as are heat waves, beachwear, and, thankfully, sweat stains). Rather than bemoan our seasonal state, it's high time to embrace winter. Those Fucked Up folks have already caught on, and a few others are helping out with programming to round out the underrated winter music festival experience in this city. So here are 5 upcoming festivals to help us survive the winter of our discontent.

Fucked Up's Long Winter Parts 3 & 4 / January 11th & February 8th / The Great Hall / PWYC
Yeah, yeah, we've already written about the series, but there's still two left to go as we enter the dead of winter. The first was great (as was the second — even though I didn't write about it, it still happened), and the third has a killer lineup to look forward to. Buck 65, Moon King, Light Fires and Maloo are some of the musical acts who will rub up against art installations by Katie Stelmanis (Austra) and Jonah Falco of Fucked Up and Scott Cudmore (of the greatest music videos) doing something called "Ricercar." That's the best thing about Long Winter — you never really know what you're going to get. In that vein, I have no idea what the final February date will bring, but I know it'll be worth checking out too.

Brrrrr! / February 1 & 2 / Echo Beach / $40-99
Some like to "appreciate" winter by being warm and cosy inside and others like to stand outside for two days at Echo Beach! This is the first year of Brrrrr! (that's 5 "r's" to be clear), a two day, outdoor electronic music festival that's set to land at Ontario Place (or what's left of it, anyway). Moby and Dubfire will headline, with about dozen others on the card as well. There will be some heated areas, but only for those who purchase a "VIP bottle service" package. Fuck me, I'd rather freeze (who am I kidding? — I could never afford the ticket, anyway).

Wavelength 13 / February 14-17 / Various Venues / Price TBA
13th birthdays can be a bit of an awkward bummer as the realization that your body's going through some changes really sets in — what are these strange sensations that I feel all the time? — but, thankfully, music festivals aren't like blossoming teen humans. In honour of Wavelength's arrival at teenagehood, we'll be treated to four nights of music from some of Canada's best indie acts. Spread between The Shop, The Great Hall and The Garrison, festival headliners include Doldrums, Do Make Say Think, Evening Hymns, Cadence Weapon and Cookie Duster (Brendan Canning's new/old band). Tickets will be available online and in record stores as of January 14th.

Winterfolk / February 14-17 / Delta Chelsea Hotel / FREE
Ok, the venue sucks and it's the same weekend as Wavelength, but if you're into folk and roots music, neither of those things should deter you from heading to the Delta Chelsea for Winterfolk. Going strong since 2003, this year the festival features one of its most diverse lineups yet. And while the energy level might be questionable (just take a listen to the song that plays when you visit the website), there's something rather heartwarming about a bunch of old white people getting together and playing the "blues." The Annual Folk Alliance Conference will take place directly after the festival, so here's your chance to discuss the state of folk music in 2013.

CMW / March 19-24 / 60 venues / $50
This counts because it starts a day before spring! Over 1000 artists hit stages at over 60 venues across the city. Although it's still a ways off, the first batch of performers has been announced, which include Rihanna (with A$AP Rocky opening), Nick Cave and the Badseeds, Stars, and my favourite jerk Mac DeMarco. CMW started way back in 1981, and has gotten bigger and better each year since, so think of this one as a reward for suffering through a couple months of lighter live music offerings in Toronto.


Here are two more recently announced winter music festivals that should be on your radar.

Big Smoke Music Festival / January 24-26 / Tallboys / $5
Great local beer, food and bands in an intimate space — what more could you want? Friday night boasts an amazing lineup with DIANA, Moon King and Kira May all making appearances. Thursday night has a more folk bent to it and Saturday leans towards "alt rock." You can grab tickets at Tallboys or pay at the door.

Afrofest / February 1, 8, 15 & 22 / Gladstone Hotel (Melody Bar) / FREE!
While Afrofest isn't celebrating it's 25th year until July 6 & 7 at Woodbine Park, they're hosting a series of free Friday night shows in celebration of Black History Month. Each night features African artists residing in Toronto. Highlights include Njacko Backo's CD release party on the 22nd, Donné Roberts and Ruth Mathiang and Waleed Abdulhamid. And as a bonus — it's free!

Also worth knowing about...

Photo by Sarah Rix

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