Writers At Woody Point Festival

Summer. It takes so long to get here that, when it finally does arrive, you have to take advantage of it. So beyond the fireworks, barbecues and lazy days at the lake, why not feast on Canada’s bounty of summertime arts and culture festivals? Here are five from across the country worth planning your travels around. 

Indian Summer Festival

Vancouver hosts a number of cultural festivals throughout the year, but the Indian Summer Festival is one of the best. A nod to both that late-season warmth and to South Asian culture, it brings prize-winning novelists, DJs, social entrepreneurs and Bollywood stars together into one great lineup. Held over 10 days in venues across downtown, events  this year range from a performance by Amjad Ali Khan, an Indian master of the lute-like sarod, to a talk by Jessica Jackley, founder of microloan organization Kiva.

July 9 to 19

Dawson City Music Festival

Musicians of all stripes—Inuk pop, Nova Scotian ukulele, Guinean world beat—make the trek to Dawson City for this little festival with ample ambiance and ambition. Entering its 37th year, the event is staged in intimate venues that include a wooden cathedral, the Palace Grand Theatre and under a red-and-white-striped tent. Alumni have included everyone from Barenaked Ladies to Elliott Brood, and this year promises to be worth the trip, too, with Corb Lund, Lisa LeBlanc and Colin Stetson in the lineup.

July 24 to 26

Halifax Seaport Beerfest

Craftbrew fests are flourishing across the country, but the Halifax Seaport Beerfest throws in harbour views, live music, locally sourced eats and a waterfront patio dotted with Adirondack chairs. Held in the Cunard Centre on Pier 23, Atlantic Canada’s largest beerfest presents 300 craft beers, imports and ciders from sources ranging from British Columbia’s Central City to Maritime brewmasters like hometown favourite Garrison Brewing Company. So, come prepared for your beer-related loyalties to be tested.

August 7 to 8

Writers at Woody Point

Is it the salt air, the ocean views or the kitchen party ambiance of Newfoundland that makes the village of Woody Point the perfect venue for a music and literary gathering? Whatever the combination, this festival within the confines of Gros Morne National Park removes the barriers of the stage. Canada’s top authors and musicians mingle with fans at the local legion and on hiking trails after events. The lineup is a who’s who of Canadian artists, including author Margaret Atwood and musician Bruce Cockburn.

August 11 to 16

Arboretum Festival

Many summer festivals are about bringing in the big acts. Ottawa’s Arboretum does that, but it starts at home—shining a light on homegrown musicians, artists and chefs from both the capital and adjacent Gatineau, Que. Held in unique historical venues throughout the area (the first was in the city’s original jail courtyard), the festival this year will also feature two days of concerts on Albert Island. Art installations, culinary events and an alfresco cocktail bar are all part of the experience.

August 19