music festivals toronto

The top 15 music festivals in Toronto for summer 2015

Summer music festivals in Toronto for 2015 usher in a period marked by new music festivals, old staples, and the elephant in the room: Panamania. There's also the much anticipated WayHome which takes place just beyond city limits. You're not going to find a three-day festival headlined by Neil Young, Sam Smith and Kendrick Lamar anywhere else.

Here are my picks for the top music festivals in Toronto this summer.

Digital Dreams
Dates: June 27-28
Cost: $99 - $279
Venue: Ontario Place
Type of music: Electronic
The "largest electronic music festival in Canada" that you can probably take an Uber home from is still going strong. The biggest outdoor dance party is bringing Armin Van Buuren, Zedd, Steve Angello, Martin Garrix and more to The Flats at Ontario place to keep you dancing for two days straight.

Electric Island
Dates: July 1, August 4, September 1
Cost: $99 - $127
Venue: Toronto Island
Type of music: Dance/Electronic
Three holidays left, three chances to dance on Toronto Island left. Each line-up is announced when the last one has passed, so July 1st brings Sasha, Marcel Dettmann, Less Foss, Dennis Ferrer and more to our escape in the harbour. Count on a good time.

Beaches International Jazz Festival
Dates: July 10-26
Cost: Free
Venues: Woodbine Park, Queen St. E. (the Beach)
Type of music: Various
The Beaches Jazz Festival continues to expand, this year encompassing three weekends at Woodbine Park, on top of the annual street festival, while still remaining free for everyone. Performances by the Melbourne Ska Orchestra, Lula All Stars, Chris Thomas King, Ogguere, God Made Me Funky, The Boom Booms, La Gran Colombia Orchestra and many more make this one of the most international options this summer.

Dates: July 10-26, Aug. 7-12
Cost: Free
Venues: Nathan Phillips Square, CIBC PanAm Park
Type of music: Various
It looks like the PanAm games have put the damper on music festivals in July, but they're making up for it in a big way. You'll be able to see acts like The Roots, Flaming Lips, Chromeo, Jann Arden, USS, Lights, Janelle Monae, Colin James, tons of world music artists and lots more, FOR FREE, at Nathan Phillips Square and the CIBC PanAm Park. Check the schedule and show up early.

Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival
Date: July 15
Cost: $35 - $269
Venue: Molson Canadian Amphitheatre
Type of music: Metal
Toronto doesn't get anything close to Heavy MontrĂŠal, so metal fans will take what they can get. We could do a lot worse than Slayer, King Diamond, Hellyeah, The Devil Wears Prada all one on bill, plus there's a second stage of up-and-coming acts so you can discover something new.

Vans Warped Tour
Date: July 17
Cost: $66.50
Venue: Ontario Place
Type of music: Punk/Rock
20 years later and the Warped Tour is still rolling. Pierce The Veil, We Came As Romans, The Wonder Years, Memphis May Fire, local favourites PUP and The Dirty Nil, and lots more are taking part this year. Things unique to Warped: if you're under 18, you can buy a ticket and bring one parent for free, and the first 100 people to donate blood on the day of the festival get a backstage wristband.

Dates: July 23rd, July 29th, August 15th
Cost: $55.50 - $135
Venue: Echo Beach
Type of music: Various
Edgefest is going with what works, sticking with their themed three-day structure from previous years. Day one is newcomers, headlined by Milky Chance and Elle King; Day two is blast-from-the-past, bringing back Incubus and Deftones; Day three are the "now" bands, topped by Mother Mother and Kongos. Each day features an 'emerging artist stage' so you can come away with a new favourite band.

Dates: August 1-2
Cost: $204 - $304
Venue: Downsview Park
Type of music: Electronic
Toronto's other EDM monolith returns to Downsview for another round, bringing hometown hero Deadmau5, Kaskade, Hardwell, Above & Beyond, Steve Aoki, A$AP Rocky, DVBBS and more along with it. Hop on the subway and dance all day and night.

OVO Fest
Dates: August 1-3
Cost: $135 - $370
Venue: ACC, Molson Amphitheatre
Type of music: Hip-hop (+comedy)
Drake's love for Toronto knows no bounds, proven this year by expanding his OVO Fest with a third day, featuring a Kevin Hart comedy set at the ACC. J.Cole ft. Big Sean and YG headline day one of the mystery line up, while the classic 'Drake + Special Guests' is on tap for day two.The mystery has already sold out day two, so do what you can to get your hands on weekend passes or start hitting refresh on Craigslist.

Fat Wrecked For 25 Years
Date: August 6
Cost: $56.50
Venue: Echo Beach
Type of music: Punk
California pop-punk label Fat Wreck Chords are celebrating 25 years, which means tapping Warped Tour and Riotfest regulars for their own festival. NoFX, Lagwagon, Strung Out, Swingin' Utters, The Flatliners and more will help you relieve your youth (or see them for the first time) at Echo Beach this summer.

TIME Festival
Date: August 15
Cost: $35 - $50
Venue: Fort York
Type of music: Various
TIME takes a slight turn away from the dance-y line up of last year, putting South African hip-hop duo Die Antwoord at the top of the bill, along with crazy crooner Mac Demarco, Ariel Pink, BADBADNOTGOOD, Yung Lean, Ryan Hemsworth, DIIV, and more, all at a very affordable price. As a bonus, there's no way it can rain as much as it did last year.

Camp Wavelength
Dates: August 28-30
Cost: $65 - $125
Venue: Gibraltar Point, Toronto Island
Type of music: Various
New kid on the island this year is Camp Wavelength. Dedicated to the ALL CAPS Festival which last took place in 2013, Wavelength is giving you a chance to spend two nights under the stars a short ferry ride from downtown, while taking in some great bands. The Wooden Sky, Do Make Say Think, The Weather Station, Doomsquad, Absolutely Free are among the first round of bands announced, with more on the way.

Mad Decent Block Party
Date: August 29
Cost: $46.50 - $76.50
Venue: Fort York
Type of music: Electronic
Diplo's annual block party is back for a third year, and this time he's performing as his cartoon dancehall alter ego, Major Lazer. Thugli, XXYYXX, CL, Jauz, TJR and What So Not are also on the bill, with at least two more mystery artists to be announced.

Dates: Sept. 18-20
Cost: $69.50 - $349.50
Venue: Fort York
Type of music: Various
Making a jump from June to September, TURF are going head-to-head with Riotfest, focusing on a slightly tamer indie rock lineup. Of Monsters and Men, Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros, one as-yet-unnamed headliner, The Avett Brothers, Wilco, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Neko Case, Cake, UB40, and more are their weapons of choice.

Dates: September 19-20
Cost: $99 - $199
Venue: Downsview Park
Type of music: Various
Riotfest's move to Downsview last year came with a big upgrade in their line-up, four times the stages and a second day, slowly edging closer to the monster size of their US counterparts. Thanks to this year's apparent "heavier + hip-hop" mandate, they've convinced Alexisonfire to reunite, bringing along however many of the Wu-Tang Clan can get across the border, Rancid, Motorhead, All Time Low, Tyler, The Creator and so many more.

What did I miss? Add more summer music festivals to the comments.

Writing by Matthew Forsythe / Lead photo of Digital Dreams by Jesse Milns.

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