Whether it’s to Metro Vancouver or on Vancouver Island, festival goers love having destinations in mind to help with B.C. exploring during the summer. Here are some of July and August’s biggest and brightest festivals and what they have to offer.
VANCOUVER ISLAND FESTIVALS
June 30 to July 2
Laketown Ranch, Cowichan Valley
Laketown Shakedown is a three-day festival with camping and concerts held across three stages. Headlining the weekend are iconic ’90s rockers Third Eye Blind, Grammy-winners Portugal. The Man, and Reggae superstar Shaggy.
VANCOUVER ISLAND MUSIC FESTIVAL
Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds
Following the model of a traditional Western Canadian Folk Festival, Vancouver Island Music Festival has concerts, workshops, jam sessions, and song circles.
Their big headliner this year is Sarah McLachlan, along with other performers like Rickie Lee Jones, Galactic, Daniel Lapp, and Bros Landreth. Weekend passes are $240 (plus fees) or day passes start at $129 (plus fees). On-site camping is available via purchasable passes.
SALT SPRING PRIDE FESTIVAL 2023
Salt Spring Farmer’s Institute, Salt Spring Island
Salt Spring’s four-day Pride Festival is housed at one festival site which includes a dance hall, outdoor stage, pop-up open mic, kid zone, covered booths, camping and shaded rest area. The weekend is all about celebrating love in its many forms.
SUNFEST COUNTRY MUSIC FESTIVAL
Country lovers rejoice! B.C.’s top country music festival returns with a lineup that lives up to its hype, with stars like Blake Shelton, Lainey Wilson, Lindsay Ell, Lonestar, and Jade Eagleson. All will take place at the expansive 275-acre Laketown Ranch.
NANAIMO BLUES FESTIVAL
Maffeo Sutton Park, Nanaimo
From R&B, boogie-woogie, blues-rock, to Chicago blues, jump blues, soul & gospel and so much more, Nanaimo Blues Festival covers it all.
Taking place in Nanaimo’s scenic Inner Harbour, this year’s line-up includes The Legendary Downchild Blues Band, Sue Foley, Thornetta Davis Lady A – Blues Diva, Blue Moon Marquee, Tom Lavin & the Legendary Power Blues, Rick Estrin & The Nightcats, Miss Emily and Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne. Tickets are $170.
MID ISLAND CO-OP ROCK THE PARK
Parksville Community Park, Parksville
This three-day music festival celebrates old-time rock and roll, classic rock and more. Featured cover bands are playing the music of ABBA, Bob Seger, David Bowie, Eagles, Elvis, Fleetwood Mac, Joe Cocker, John Fogerty/CCR, Neil Diamond, Santana and other favourites. Cost is $40 for a single-day adult pass or $75 for a three-day pass.
ARTS ON THE AVENUE
First Avenue, Ladysmith
A free festival now in its 25th year, Arts on the Avenue celebrates art via an evening Art Jam and the Arts on the Avenue Market. Interactive activities abound at Art Jam with a live paint competition, live music, a kid’s area and art stations. For those looking to shop, the market will be a chance to see all that local artists have to offer.
In the words of Ivy Lab’s Gove Kidao, Bass Coast is “a place where people get silly to quite serious music.” This festival is all about electronic music and art, with art installations, live art, performers, and workshops, all built on community and freedom of artistic expression. Attendees and performers are asked to keep in mind this year’s theme, which is “Avant Garden”.
VANCOUVER FOLK MUSIC FESTIVAL
Jericho Beach Park, Vancouver
This folk festival is one of the city’s most popular summer events, drawing in more than 40,000 attendees annually. Some of the bigger names performing this year are Juno Award Winners Jim Byrnes and Steve Dawson, Jill Barber, and rising local stars like Krystle dos Santos and Samantha Parton. It’s also a place to discover folk music from around the globe.
As Canada’s premiere electronic music festival – sometimes referred to as “Canada’s Burning Man” – Shambhala stages over 200 artists, including some seriously big names this year like Griz, RL Grime, Zeds Dead, Liquid Stranger, John Summit, and Gigantic x NGHTMRE. Attendees can expect jaw-dropping stage design, dancing and lots of creative expression from both attendees and performers.
BURNABY BLUES AND ROOTS FESTIVAL
Deer Lake Park
A large draw to this year’s festival is that it’s free, with an attractive lineup of Buffy Sainte-Marie, Allison Russell, The Dip, Boy Golden, and The Trade-Offs. Tickets are not required for admission, but organizers note that the event site has capacity for 9,000 attendees.
EARLY MUSIC VANCOUVER
July 27 – Aug. 5
Celebrating women composers, librettists, and performers of the past and present, this year’s festival theme is WOMENinSIGHT. It was inspired by revolutionary writer Christine de Pizan who questioned the centuries-old treatment of women. There will be more than 60 artists from around the globe to check out, with the festival’s focus on “early music”, including concerts dedicated to JS Bach, operas, and other styles from earlier eras of music creation.