After 2 years in limbo, summer music festivals are back to electrify concertgoers

As COVID-19 restrictions lift across the country, many summer music festivals are gearing up for the return of in-person performances.

Both the Halifax Jazz Festival and Ottawa’s BluesFest are returning to proper live events after two years of producing virtual ones. 

“It’s about … the physical experience of going to an event and sharing it with other people — your family, your friends [and] people you meet,” said Mark Monahan, the executive and artistic director of the RBC Ottawa BluesFest.

Andrew Jackson, artistic director of the Halifax Jazz Festival, expressed similar sentiments, noting that there was an overwhelming desire from the artistic community to do in-person events again.

“I think there’s [an] almost intangible feeling you get by being in a live environment,” said Jackson. “Having that physical response to the music hitting [you].”

Although the Halifax Jazz Festival plans to do an in-person gathering this year, Jackson maintains it will be a while before things are fully back to a pre-pandemic normal.

“It’s going to take a long time to rebuild those audiences and get people back,” Jackson said. “But I think they will return.”

Here’s a breakdown of the major music festivals across Canada returning with in-person performances this summer.


Shambhala Music Festival

Where: Kootenay, B.C.
When: July 22-25

This four-day music festival is known for its array of world-renowned electronic artists. This year’s lineup includes BTSM and Claptone. Early bird pricing is set at $495 and general admission tickets are $525.


sākihiwē festival

Where: Winnipeg
When: June 24-26

This is the festival that comes to you. The sākihiwē festival (formerly Aboriginal Music Week) travels to different communities in Winnipeg so that families can enjoy Indigenous music. The lineup is expected to be announced later this spring, with tickets going on sale after.


Rogersville Country and Bluegrass Festivals

Where: Rogersville, N.B.
When: June 24–25, Aug. 26-28

Rogersville Music Inc. puts on two festivals every year featuring country and bluegrass artists. This year’s headliners for the Rogersville Country Music Festival are Ben & Noel Haggard, while the headliner for the bluegrass festival is ​Rhonda Vincent & The Rage. Tickets range from $30 to $90.

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Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival 

Where: St. John’s
When: July 8-10

The Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival is returning in person after its virtual event last year. Artists and ticket prices have not yet been announced, but the Newfoundland & Labrador Folk Arts Society encourages fans to join them Monday nights for their livestream until then.


Halifax Jazz Festival 

Where: Halifax
When: July 12-17

Formerly known as the Atlantic Jazz Festival, the Halifax Jazz Festival is one of the oldest and largest jazz fests in Canada, featuring hundreds of musicians each year. The lineup and ticket announcements are expected to follow later this spring.


An inflatable alien is seen in the crowd as Blink-182 performs at the 2019 Festival D’été Quebec in Quebec City. (Ollie Millington/Redferns)

Festival d’été de Québec (FEQ)

Where: Quebec City
When: July 7-17

FEQ is back this year with Rage Against the Machine as its headliner. More artists will be announced over the coming weeks. Tickets go on sale later this spring.


Sound of Music Festival

Where: Burlington, Ont.
When: June 12-19

The Sound of Music Festival is back in full swing this year, featuring artists such as Wide Mouth Mason, High Valley and Emily Reid. Check out the festival’s social media pages to see a new artist announcement every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

RBC Ottawa Bluesfest

Where: Ottawa
When: July 7-17

This outdoor festival is back at it, bringing the best and brightest in the pop, hip hop and blues genres. Some of this year’s confirmed artists include Marshmello, Luke Bryan and Sarah McLachlan. Tickets are on sale now and range from $130 to $300.


VELD Music Festival

Where: Toronto
When: July 29-31

Known for an eclectic mix of dance, electronic and hip hop, the VELD Music Festival is back with artists like the Chainsmokers, Martin Garrix and Alesso. Tickets range from $155 to $460.


Luke Combs, who will be playing the Cavendish Beach Music Festival this summer, is seen performing at the 2019 CMT Music Awards in Nashville, Tenn. (Mark Humphrey/The Associated Press)

Cavendish Beach Music Festival

Where: Cavendish, P.E.I.
When: July 7-9

This country music festival is known for bringing top artists from across Canada and the U.S. This year, it will feature Darius Rucker, Luke Combs and Maddie & Tae. Tickets start at $95.


Country Thunder Music Festival

Where: Calgary and Craven, Sask.
When: July 14-17, Aug. 19-21

Both Alberta and Saskatchewan have a Country Thunder Music Festival every year. This time around, the Alberta festival features Florida Georgia Line, while the Saskatchewan event includes Blake Shelton and Chad Brownlee. Morgan Wallen and Lee Bryce will perform at both events.


Osheaga Music and Arts Festival is set to return in 2022 after the pandemic pushed its 15th edition back by two years. (Radio-Canada)

Osheaga Festival

Where: Montreal
When: July 29-31

Osheaga is back after a two-year hiatus and the lineup features the Foo Fighters, A$AP Rocky and Dua Lipa. Tickets start at $375


Boots and Hearts Music Festival

Where: Oro-Medonte, Ont.
When: Aug. 4-7

Boots and Hearts is another renowned country festival. It returns this year with Shania Twain, Florida Georgia Line, Sam Hunt and Walker Hayes headlining. Tickets range from approximately $350 to $750.


Other festivals still deciding 

While many festivals have announced their return, the status for others is still unclear. A number of festivals, such as Calgary’s Chasing Summer dance music event, have yet to release artist, ticket or festival information. Meanwhile, representatives from the Iron Mic Festival (hip hop) told CBC News that they are watching COVID-19 trends before making a final decision.

As for the Manitoba Electronic Music Festival (MEME), organizers are planning a hybrid event. Festival director Nathan Zahn told CBC News that live music will be in-person, while their speaker series will be online.

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