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

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

The Halifax Jazz Festival and Ottawa BluesFest are returning to actual live events after two years of producing virtual events.

“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, Executive and Artistic Director of RBC Ottawa BluesFest.

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

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

Although the Halifax Jazz Festival plans to hold an in-person gathering this year, Jackson maintains that it will be some time before things fully return to pre-pandemic normalcy.

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

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

Shambhala Music Festival

Or: Kootenay, BC
When: July 22-25

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

sākihiwē festival

Or: 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 families can enjoy Aboriginal music. The lineup is expected to be announced later this spring, with tickets going on sale thereafter.

Rogersville Country and Bluegrass Festivals

Or: Rogersville, N.B.
When: June 24-25, August 26-28

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

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Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival

Or: St. John’s
When: July 8-10

the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival returns in person after its virtual event last year. Performers and ticket prices have yet to be announced, but the Newfoundland & Labrador Folk Arts Society encourages fans to join them on Monday nights for their direct until there.

Halifax Jazz Festival

Or: Halifax
When: July 12-17

Formerly known as the Atlantic Jazz Festival, the Halifax Jazz Festival is one of the oldest and largest jazz festivals in Canada, featuring hundreds of musicians each year. 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 Quebec Summer Festival in Quebec City. (Ollie Millington/Redferns)

Quebec Summer Festival (FEQ)

Or: Quebec City
When: July 7-17

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

music sound festival

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

the music sound festival is back this year with artists such as Wide Mouth Mason, High Valley and Emily Reid. Check the festival’s social media pages to see a new artist announcement every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

RBC Ottawa Bluesfest

Or: Ottawa
When: July 7-17

This outdoor festival is back, bringing together the best and brightest of 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.

Field Music Festival

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 perform at the Cavendish Beach Music Festival this summer, is seen performing at the 2019 CMT Music Awards in Nashville, Tennessee. (Mark Humphrey/Associated Press)

Cavendish Beach Music Festival

Or: Cavendish, PEI
When: July 7-9

This country music festival is known for bringing together the best artists from Canada and the United States. This year it will feature Darius Rucker, Luke Combs and Maddie & Tae. Tickets start at $95.

Thunder Country Music Festival

Or: Calgary and Craven, Sask.
When: July 14-17, August 19-21

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

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

Osheaga Festival

Or: Montreal
When: July 29-31

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

Boots and Hearts Music Festival

Or: Oro-Medonte, Ont.
When: August 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 decide

While many festivals have announced their return, the status of others is still unclear. A number of festivals, such as Calgary’s Chasing Summer dance music event, have yet to release any artist, ticket or festival information. Meanwhile, representatives from the Iron Mic Festival (hip hop) told CBC News they are monitoring 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 the live music will be in person, while their speaker series will be online.