Nothing dull about the music scene in the Vancouver area this summer with festivals covering almost every kind of music between June and September
Pick a music genre and you are likely to find a summer music festival in Vancouver, or at least within a short drive or boat ride. Folk, jazz, roots and blues, top 40, classical, and ska, the Lower Mainland has it all. Even the City of Vancouver is getting into the action with a 3-day music festival in Stanley Park to celebrate Vancouver’s 125thanniversary.
With venues ranging from the streets of Gastown, to the open-air concert bowl at Deer Lake in Burnaby, to the urban parkland of Stanley Park and the rugged mountain-lined valley of Squamish, the festival settings are almost as attractive as the events themselves.
Bask in summer sun at the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival held at venues around the city from June 24 to July 3. (Image: Velkr0)
Summer music festivals around Vancouver
British Columbia’s largest music festival, the International Jazz Festival lasts 10 days with 400 concerts in 40 venues across Vancouver. Celebrating its 26thyear, this festival is bringing another stellar line-up to town, made up of legendary, world-renowned jazz artists and up-and-coming stars. This year’s list includes Wynton Marsalis, Paco de Lucia, Colin James, Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, and Blue King Brown. With some free events and ticketed events ranging anywhere from $15 right up to $125 for a Hopper Pass (sampler package), everyone can get in on the jazz experience.
The city of Vancouver has boarded the festival bandwagon with this first ever three-day Summer Live event—a celebration of Vancouver's existence. The free multi-stage arts celebration will be held in Stanley Park, with performances by top Vancouver and international artists including The New Pornographers, Neko Case, Mother Mother, Daniel Wesley, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra conducted by Bramwell Tovey, Dan Mangan, Spirit of the West, Barney Bentall and the Legendary Hearts and more.
This three-day folk festival is held on grassy fields next to the beautiful Jericho Beach in Vancouver’s Point Grey neighbourhood, with a view of the ocean, coastal mountains and downtown Vancouver. In its 34thyear, the Vancouver Folk Festival has a history of attracting top folk artists. This year’s line-up includes Gillian Welch, Solas, Tim Robbins and the Rogues Gallery Band, Rosanne Cash, Josh Ritter and the Royal City Band, Jim Bryson with the Weakerthans Band and C.R. Avery. Gates open on the Friday from 4-9:30 p.m. and Saturday & Sunday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Weekend passes start at $150.
Every year, for 10 days in August, the city plays host to some of the world’s most talented classical, jazz and world music artists. MusicFest Vancouver presents over 40 concerts and events this year including Morning Chamber Music Concerts, Jazz at The Cellar, Accordion Day, Early Music Concerts, Music in the Garden and the Industrial Alliance Pacific Inside the Music Series.
The 12th annual Burnaby Blues and Roots Festival returns to Deer Lake Park for an outdoor show that includes k.d. lang, John Mayall, Imelda May and Matt Anderson. Early bird tickets are available until June 30th for $55. They go to $65 for the rest of the summer.
Venture down the Sea to Sky Highway for a camping and music combo at Live at Squamish. (Image: Brenda H Lee)
Summer music festivals – a short drive from Vancouver
The second annual Squamish Live festival is a hot ticket event this summer, with on-site camping spots already sold out. Taking place on the Logger Sports Grounds and Hendrickson Fields in the quaint Squamish Valley, this year’s line-up includes Metric, John Butler Trio, Girl Talk, Kyprios, and Weezer. Saturday-only, Sunday-only and two-day weekend passes are available.
Summer music festivals – a boat ride from Vancouver
Victoria’s 12thAnnual Ska Festival runs from Wednesday, July 6, to Saturday, July 9, at various venues around downtown Victoria. A celebration of ska and reggae music, the festival includes a free all-ages concert on the 6th featuring Colombia’s The Klaxons and ticketed events with Mama Pulpa, Ken Boothe and Ky-Mani Marley. Single event tickets range from $10 to $33 or $105 for a five-event package.
This brand spanking new festival takes place at the Coombs Rodeo Ground (near the famous goats on the roof) 30 minutes north of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. Nicknamed the “Folk Festival with an Edge”, The Kulth hopes to bring people together through music under the notion of mutual respect for each other and for the environment. On-site camping is available, but festival-goers are advised to book early to guarantee a spot. The line-up includes the Stars, Ron Sexsmith, Aidan Knight and Current Swell.
In its third year, Rifflandia is held in the province’s capital, beautiful Victoria on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. This year’s location is set for Royal Athletic Park. With two stages, food and drink areas and a tented cinema of sorts, this year’s event sounds promising, although so far no artists have been announced. Last year’s line-up included Tegan and Sara, The Pack A.D., Mother Mother, and Sex with Strangers.