5 Festivals You Need to Know About

Five music festivals you should attend this year: Coachella, Pop Montreal, Frostbite Music Festival, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and Bumbershoot


Yesterday I came across the Coachella lineup and, with names like Kanye West, Arcade Fire and Ms. Lauryn Hill showing up, I am dying to go! Music festivals are the perfect reason to plan a three or four day weekend getaway in some of the coolest places. So, without further ado, here are our top five music festivals for 2011.

Coachella: A Hipster Scene

Ok, I’m biased. Well, at least for this year, I’m ranking the Coachella Arts and Music Festival as the one festival you need to attend. This three-day festival located in Indio, California started back in 1993 with Pearl Jam at the Empire Polo Club. Since then, Coachella has pulled in some huge names in both mainstream and alternative music, from Madonna and Paul McCartney to the Pixies and Manu Chao.

There are hotel packages available but, a less expensive option is the on-site camping ($75/ spot), which includes pretty decent amenities: showers, cell-phone charging station, shuttles to the city, free wifi and a farmer’s market.

When: April 15 17, 2011
Where: Indio, CA
Cost: The three day pass is $280 plus shipping fees
Don’t forget to pack: Sunglasses. All the cool kids will be weaing them.

Pop Montreal: Fresh and Artsy

This five-day festival features more than 400 performers and you never know who will “pop” up. Dedicated to showcasing a variety of music, not only from today’s biggest acts but also forgotten legends, unknown artists and future headliners Pop Montreal appeals to music-lovers of all ages. Acts that performed in 2010 include Edmonton’s own Cadence Weapon (whom I saw at High Performance Rodeo), the raspy-voiced Macy Gray and Library Voices.

Mini-festivals take place under the umbrella of Pop Montreal like Kids Pop, which has a slew of activities for the little guys, Puces Pop, where hip entreprenuers show off their products and Film Pop which highlights the best in undergound cinema. If you are looking for a chance to check out new acts and attend discussions, visual art exhibitions, fashion shows, film screenings and a few all-night parties this festival is for you.

When: Sept 21 25, 2011
Where: Montreal, QC
Cost: Depends on the performance and venue
Don’t forget to pack:  A French phrase book

Frostbite Music Festival: Canadiana Cool (literally)

As someone who already hates being cold, the idea of heading to Whitehorse in winter is less than appealing, however I think that the Frostbite Music Festival could entice me to wander further into Canada’s north. It all started back in 1979 when someone had the wild notion to bring musicians to the Yukon smack in the middle of winter, they must have been ok with the cold because, 32 years later, this festival is still drawing performers and audiences to the chilly town of Whitehorse.

This two day festival features both nationally acclaimed musicians as well as local talent. This year’s lineup includes Bahamas, Eekwol (touted as Canada’s first Aboriginal hip hop artist) and Joaquim Diaz who brings some Latin heat to the north with his twist on merengue.

When: Feb 18 20, 2011
Where: Whitehorse, YK
Cost: For weekend pass: Adult $90, Student $75, Youth $60, 12 and under free
Don’t forget to pack:  Your heaviest parka!

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival: The Festival of All Music Festivals

Photo courtesy of nojazzfest.com

If you’re looking for jazz why would you go anywhere else? This music festival is an event dedicated to preserving and celebrating both the history and the music created in “the birthplace of jazz”. With 12 stages featuring jazz, gospel, Cajun, zydeco, blues, R&B, rock, funk, African, Latin, Caribbean, folk, and much more this is definitely the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is the festival for everyone. If you can’t find something you like here, you probably won’t find it anywhere else.

This year’s lineup is a veritable feast for music lovers…rock out to Bon Jovi, enjoy the soul of John Legend, time warp back to the 80s with Cyndi Lauper and be awed by Willie Nelson. For the complete list of performers click here.

When: Apr 29 May 8, 2011
Where: New Orleans, LA
Cost: Vary depending on package, starting $45
Don’t forget to pack:  A strong stomach – you need to try all of Louisiana’s deliciacies….fried chicken livers, anyone?

Bumbershoot: Family Friendly

Bumbershoot started off as the Mayor’s Arts Festival in 1971, since then it has grown into North America’s largest urban arts festival. This three day festival features international and local performers, art exhibitions, film screenings and dance performances. Previous musicians to play at Bumbershoot include James Brown, The Eurythmics and Tina Turner.

This year’s lineup includes Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley, Plants and Animals and the legendary Bob Dylan. Youngershoot adds in a family friendly element to this festival with kid-specific and family-friendly activities. Crafts, movies and a discovery museum keep the kids occupied and the parents relaxed.

When: Sept 4 Sept 6, 2011
Where: Seattle, WA
Cost: Day passes start at $30
Don’t forget to pack:  Thanks to Seattle’s changeable weather make sure to bring both a raincoat and sunscreen

Photos by El Diano, frostbitefest.ca, nojazzfest.com, Jackie Kingsbury


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