The top 10 music festivals in Toronto for spring 2016
Spring is here and so to is music festival season in Toronto. A few changes to the usual lineup should keep things interesting: Luminato is going big for their 10th anniversary, Bestival has traded Toronto Island for the Beaches, and long-running staple NXNE is a giant question mark. From k-pop to contemporary, there's a music festival for everyone (unless you're a country fan... alas).
Here are my picks for the top 10 music festivals in Toronto this spring.
Soundtrack Of The City (March 31-Apr 3)
Spring festival season kicks off at the end of March with the local-focused Soundtrack Of The City. 60-plus bands play over four days at several clubs on Queen St., all within walking distance of one another. It's a great way to discover new bands you may not have heard of: $25 gets you a wristband covering every show in the festival, or it's only $10 per concert.
CMW, May 2-8 (Various)
With NXNE's change in direction, CMW is the biggest club-hopping festival you'll see in Toronto this year. 400+ bands over six days (Tegan and Sara, Skepta, X Ambassadors, The Black Lips, Collective Soul top the list), plus comedy, film, and industry events will keep you as busy as you want to be.
Kpop Con, May 20-22 (Metro Convention Centre)
More than just a convention, KPop Con is a three-day concert with some big name Korean pop acts making the trip to Toronto. Gfriend, Day6, Vixx and GOT7 will all perform at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, along with fan events to put you closer to your favourites.
Electric Island, May 23, July 1, Aug. 1, Sept. 4-5 (Toronto Island)
The ongoing dance party known as Electric Island kicks off in the spring and runs all the way to Labour Day, hitting every long weekend in between. No lineup has been announced yet, but getting a season's pass (good for all events) will guarantee your spot for one of the few music events left on Toronto Island.
21C, May 25-29 (Royal Conservatory of Music)
If you're looking for something outside the usual indie rock/DJ festival scene, The Royal Conservatory of Music brings you 21C. With seven concerts spanning five days, you can see new work from Kronos Quartet w/Tanya Tagaq, Brad Mehldau, Brian Current and more, taking place mainly at Koerner Hall and the Conservatory Theatre.
CBC Music Festival, May 28 (Echo Beach)
As always, CBC Music Festival sticks to its mandate of supporting Canadian music with another year of homegrown talent. Hey Rosetta, The New Pornographers, Alvvays, Tokyo Police Club, Whitehorse, Maestro and more will be taking the main stage, while a flea market, kids' zone and food trucks will entertain those looking for distractions from the CanCon.
Field Trip, June 4-5 (Fort York)
Two days of fun in the sun for the whole family! Not an ad for a water park - Field Trip festival is back with another lineup of great bands and entertainment. The National, Robyn, July Talk, Of Montreal, Santigold, Charles Bradley and many more perform on the main stages, while a kids area, comedy shows, VR demos, photo gallery, and food trucks will keep you busy between sets.
Luminato, June 10-26 (Various)
Running over two weeks, Luminato will be making full use of the Port Lands' Hearn Generating Station they christened last year. The experimental Unsound installation returns, along with a dance performance soundtracked by Godspeed You! Black Emperor, an epic theatre trilogy about three Scottish kings, Rufus Wainright covers Judy Garland, and more.
Bestival, June 11-12 (Woodbine Park)
After a successful first round outside the UK, Bestival is coming back to Toronto, this time with 100% less ferry travel. 2016 sees the festival coming ashore at Woodbine Park, bringing The Cure, Tame Impala, Odesza, Grimes, Jamie XX and more to the Beaches neighbourhood. Their signature extras will be intact as well, with a costume party, inflatable church, circus troupes and more.
NXNE, June 15-19 (Various)
This entry could just be a question mark, but there are dates allotted for it. What we know is the club-hopping wristband experience is out, there will be some kind of stage in the Port Lands, and video games are taking over Yonge-Dundas Square. And no one knows who and where anyone is playing.
What festival are you most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments.
Writing and photo by Matt Forsythe.
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