ontario musical festivals 2015

The top 10 music festivals in Ontario for 2015

The top music festivals in Ontario for 2015 all give compelling reasons to get out of the city. Maybe you've had the annual rite-of-passage of seeing a band in a small club where the A/C is out...during a heatwave. Maybe you're looking for an escape from Pan Am-mania. Maybe you're "over" all the giant festivals in the city. Whatever your reason for leaving, and whichever direction you choose, there's a music festival waiting for you.

Our list of Toronto music festivals is coming soon, so until then, start planning your road trip.

Sound Of Music
Location: Burlington
Dates: June 13-21, 2015
Venue: Various
Drive time: ~45 min.
Type of music: Various
Sound Of Music's kick-off concert is a blast from the not-so-distant past, with Weezer, Our Lady Peace, Collective Soul, Finger Eleven and more. A mix of free and ticketed shows continue all over town for a week - there's even a parade! Aaron Pritchett, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Hollerado, Loverboy, Shad, The Tea Party, and many more are on the bill.

Mariposa Folk Festival
Location: Orillia
Dates: July 3-5, 2015
Venue: Tudhope Park
Drive time: ~1.5hrs
Type of music: Folk
55 years is a long run for any festival, but Mariposa is keeping the folk flame burning bright. Their legacy includes performances by Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Emmylou Harris, so you know they get it. 2015 will see Lucinda Williams, Adam Cohen, and Mary Chapin Carpenter take the stage, alongside many more. Camping is a significant part of the experience, so considering pitching a tent for a few days.

RBC Bluesfest
Location: Ottawa
Dates: July 8-19, 2015
Venue: Lebreton Flats Park
Drive time: ~4.5 hrs
Type of music: Various
Don't get hung up on the "Bluesfest" title - Kanye West, Keith Urban, The Tragically Hip, Hedley, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Iggy Azalea, Blue Rodeo and Jason Aldean are headlining the eleven days of music. Add in a stop from the Full Flex Express (Skrillex, Diplo, Zeds Dead and more), and it's about as far removed from the blues as you can get.

Location: Guelph
Dates: July 24-26, 2015
Venue: Guelph Lake Island
Drive time: ~1 hr
Type of music: Various
Hillside may share dates with WayHome this year, but sticking true to what they do best will set them apart. Good food, a relaxed vibe, an environmentally-conscious angle to everything, and no VIP anything are at the heart of the festival. Michael Franti & Spearhead, Constantines, Daniel Lanois, Badbadnotgood, Frazey Ford, Alanna Gurr & The Greatest State are at the top of the bill.

Location: Oro-Medonte
Dates: July 24-26, 2015
Venue: Burl's Creek Event Grounds
Drive time: ~1.5 hr
Type of music: Various
How does a festival that hasn't happened yet make the list? Have the founder of US super-festival Bonnaroo bring their success north of the border, booking a three-day music, arts and camping festival, the likes of which we've never seen in Ontario. Neil Young, Sam Smith and Kendrick Lamar top the bill of over 70 acts spread over three days. Camping is included with every ticket, so bring a tent and settle in.

Electric Eclectics
Location: Meaford
Dates: July 31- Aug 2, 2015
Venue: Farm outside Meaford
Drive time: ~2.5 hrs
Type of music: Electronic
International electronic acts and their fans flock to a small town north of Collingwood each summer, not for apple season, but because Electric Eclectics has gained a reputation for being a festival that caters to what they love. Mykke Blanco, Nihilist Spasm Band (50th Anniversary), Danielle de Picciotto, The Moth, Soupcans, Doomsquad + Not the Wind, Not the Flag are among the acts you can catch this year.

Boots and Hearts
Location: Oro-Medonte
Dates: August 6-9, 2015
Venue: Burl's Creek Event Grounds
Drive time: ~1.5 hrs
Type of music: Country
The big news for Boots and Hearts this year is the new location. 2015 sees them uprooting themselves from Mosport Park and joining their new multi-day festival cousins (WayHome) in Oro-Medonte. Brad Paisley, Eric Church, Florida Georgia Line, Justin Moore and Little Big Town will all be waiting for you, most likely with cowboy hats and cold beers at the ready.

Wolfe Island Music Festival
Location: Wolfe Island (Kingston)
Dates: August 7-8, 2015
Venue: Marysville
Drive time: ~3 hrs
Type of music: Canadian Indie Rock
Wolfe Island is a free 20-minute ferry ride from Kingston and home to a small but respectable music festival that is a perfect alternative to any place that offers "glamping". The festival spans a night of small shows, a day of bands on the festival main stage and a dash of camping in between. The Constantines are headlining in one of their few shows this year, along with Operators, Hayden, Elliot Brood, Limblifter, Daniel Romano and more.

Havelock Country Jamboree
Location: Havelock
Dates: August 13-16, 2015
Venue: Havelock
Drive time: ~2 hrs
Type of music: Country
The Havelock Country Jamboree brings the soul of Nashville (and nearly 100,000 people) to the small town of Havelock every year. This year's lineup of veteran and up-and-coming artists will be headlined by Clint Black, Big & Rich, Gord Bamford, Tanya Tucker, Brett Kissel, Joe Diffie, Corb Lund, Rhonda Vincent and more. Camping isn't required, but it's a big part of the experience.

Location: Hamilton
Dates: September 11-13, 2015
Venue: James Street North
Drive time: ~1 hr
Type of music: Various
Supercrawl's lineup has yet to be announced, but their website claims "you ain't seen nothin' yet". BTO or not, Hamilton's favourite music festival is known for incredible line-ups at the best possible price: free. Last year's performers included Arkells, Teenage Head, Charles Bradley, Kevin Drew, and more.

Writing and lead photo by Matt Forsythe

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