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Summer 2016’s definitive festival guide 

Enough stuff to fill every second of every single summer weekend, and inspire some unforgettable roadtrips.

click to enlarge This is what Evolving looks like - CHR!S SM!TH
  • This is what Evolving looks like
  • Chr!s Sm!th

OUT OF TOWN
June 12-18
Seaside Lobsterfest
Imagine chowing down on fresh Atlantic lobster as the salty spray of the ocean it came from tickles your face. The inaugural St. Peter's Lobster Festival fuses land and sea with seven days of feasting and a cavalcade of festivities like lobster relay races (intriguing?), pony rides and musical entertainment.
St Peter's, L'Ardroise, River Bourgeois and Potletek, Cape Breton, $10-$50, seasidelobsterfest.com


OUT OF TOWN
June 12-25
Festival of Small Halls
The rolling red roads, Anne of Green Gables and potatoes shouldn't be the only things pulling you to visit PEI. This festival boasts a charming experience of song, dance and folklore storytelling within more than 40 small halls across the island. Aw, cute.
$10-$30, smallhalls.com


June 16-19
OUTEast Film Festival
Shining a necessary spotlight on local, national and international queer cinema, this four-day festival encourages everyone to come OUT. Whether to watch, support or listen, OUTeast promises a collective ethos of both education and celebration. Screenings include Major!, a doc on a 73-year-old activist and trans woman; Strike a Pose, a check-in with Madonna's six gay dancers; and lesbian love story Summertime.
various locations, $10-$15, all access pass for $70, outeastfilm.com


OUT OF TOWN
June 17-19
Full Circle Festival
Ever wonder what it's like to leave a festival with a sunny feeling that plucks on your (folk) heart strings? Well, that's Full Circle. This three-day solstice celebration mingles music, food, friends, children and dogs under the warm summer air. But we hope you snagged your tickets early this year, cause this hootenanny is sold out.
Avon River Heritage Museum, Newport Landing, $19-$85, fillcirclefestival.ca


click to enlarge festivals-4.jpg

OUT OF TOWN
June 24-26
Folly Fest
This is where the committed festi-goers co-mingle. The unofficial offspring of Evolve, this fest cherry picks bands across the musical map. Expect to not only get swept away by philosophical pondering and the intoxicating atmosphere, but the swirl of mud beneath your boots. Do yoga outside. Drink craft beer. Camp in the rolling fields of the old farm that houses Folly—these are the experiences that keep people coming back year after year. This year's lineup includes east coast pop-rock icons Grand Theft Bus and Slowcoaster. Dance music more your scene? Check out a silent disco, featuring Arsoniste.
The Village of Gagetown, NB, $145 (festival pass), follyfest.ca


OUT OF TOWN
June 24-26
Privateer Days
Take a trip to Liverpool, Queens County and a trip back in time with this festival! With historic pirates and privateers (a legal form of pirate from Canada's infancy) roaming the town's quaint streets, there's lots to see. There's lots to hear, too, with performances for the town's multicultural fair and local live acts like the husband-wife folk duo The Lewinskies.
Privateer Park, Liverpool, privateerdays.ca


July 2-August 13
AFF Outdoor Film Experience
The forever-in-our-hearts alFresco Filmfesto presents its summer 2016 theme—Animated City—showing a series of Saturday night features in various open-air locations around town. Sullivan's Pond, Tall Ships Quay, the Central Library and Dartmouth Crossing are among the venues that'll gather the whole fam for flicks like The Lego Movie, Fantastic Mr. Fox and a Frozen singalong.
atlanticfilm.com


OUT OF TOWN
July 21-24
Nova Scotia Bluegrass & Oldtime Music Festival
Lovers of old-timey twang will pluck this one from the bunch. The 45th (!) festival brings together Zink and Company, Slocan Ramblers, Sidekicks and many more to celebrate the preservation and promotion of traditional bluegrass music. Workshops, concerts and toe-tapping good times are what this weekend's all about.
Bible Hill, $65 (festival pass), nsbluegrass.com


click to enlarge The Flying Saxons at the Tattoo - LANCE LEE
  • The Flying Saxons at the Tattoo
  • Lance Lee

June 30-July 7
Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo
If Cirque du Soleil, the military and a kilt had a baby, the Tattoo would somehow appear in all its glory. The Tattoo fuses traditional features like pipes, drums and military routines, with modern acts like acrobatics, trampoline routines and dance.
Scotiabank Centre, 5284 Duke Street, $27.50-$98.50, ticketatlantic.com


June 30-July 3
Ribfest Halifax
Smell that smokey steam heat wafting along the waterfront? We guarantee you will. RibFest snags seven ribbers (AKA barbecuing chefs) from across North America this year serving up your favourites—smoked ribs, chicken, sassy beans and blooming onions. Bring ya bibs and pile up on wet naps, it's bound to be a saucy soiree. Pro tip: Ideal for first dates! JK. Unless you're into that, we won't judge.
Halifax Waterfront, 11am-11pm (June 30-July 2) and 11am-7pm (July 3), ribfesthalifax.ca


OUT OF TOWN
July 1-3
Stan Rogers Folk Festival
After a summer off, the 20-year-old festival is back, granting the stage to both nostalgic and newfound favourites that honour the legacy of Stan Rogers. StanFest proudly brings a mixed-age crowd back to roots with band ballads and Bruce Guthro's eclectic songwriters circles. Headlining this year are Arlo Guthrie, Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leary. Sure, you'll be drinking boxed wine or whiskey while tenting next to someone's Aunt Linda but sharing is caring, and all ages happily mingle at StanFest.
Canso, NS, $55-$130, (tenting sites $65, RV sites $80), stanfest.com


click to enlarge See Wintersleep at Gridlock July 8 - SHERVIN LAINEZ
  • See Wintersleep at Gridlock July 8
  • Shervin Lainez

July 8-10
Gridlock Festival
New festival alert! And it's gonna be hip as hell. An eclectic mix of indie, psychedelic rock, pop and smooth electronic from across North America are just some of the delicious sounds you'll hear radiating at Gridlock. Featured acts include Wolf Parade, BATHS, Vogue Dots, Wintersleep and Waxahatchee. The day-glo party hounds AKA teens are also invited for all-ages shows in the afternoon, and can get tickets for free (see next page).
Spatz Theatre/Citadel High School grounds, 1855 Trollope Street, $90-$120, gridlockfestival.com


OUT OF TOWN
July 3-August 7
Granville Green
Here's the thing about free outdoor concerts: it's where the small town teens come to play. But given Granville Green's usually stacked lineup of talent, it's where the adults are bound to stay, and return to every Sunday. This year, Granville Green boasts Wintersleep, Heather Rankin and Gordie Sampson, amongst other talent.
Granville Street, Port Hawkesbury, Sundays, 7pm, free, granvillegreen.ca


click to enlarge PHOODOGRAPHS
  • Phoodographs

July 7-10
Lebanese Festival
This cultural festival proves to be a true sensory experience. Taste authentic Lebanese favourites like falafel, hummus and tabouli, listen to traditional music and even learn to play Lebanese drums. See examples of rich traditions, like religious artwork and architecture. Leave with a full belly, thought-filled mind and greater understanding of this dynamic region and its people.
2304 Hunter Street, free, lebanesefestival.ca


OUT OF TOWN
July 7-17
Peggys Cove Area Festival of the Arts
A celebration of art inspired by the beauty of Peggys Cove, this festival features painting, sculpture, wood working and more from local artists spread over 36 locations. You're invited to experience Nova Scotia through the eyes of an artist.
peggyscoveareafestivalofthearts.com


OUT OF TOWN
July 8-10
Cavendish Beach Music Festival
Just like every country song ever written, this festival is also all about boots, beer and sunshine. As the largest multi-day festival in Atlantic Canada, the Cavendish Beach Music Festival has earned its bragging rights and brings y'all the best in today's country music. This year, there will be performances by Gwen Stefani's boo Blake Shelton, Kenny Chesney and Dean Brody. Since you won't be able to hold onto your cowboy hats, let's just hope you can hold your beer.
8813 Cavendish Road, Green Gables, $69.50-$1,000, cavendishbeachmusic.com


OUT OF TOWN
July 8-10
Evolve Festival
Whether you're a festival veteran or a newcomer, all who attend Evolve leave on a hedonist high. Though it's departing from its beloved rolling hill outside Antigonish, finding its new location this year means you don't have to lug your bedazzled and furry festival gear up that damn hill. Evolve will carry on with its reputation for being party central with headliners like Danny Brown, Dub FX and Keys n Krates. With music sun up to sun down, please carry that 4L jug of water everywhere you frolic.
274 Girvan Road, Beersville, NB, $165-195, evolvefestival.com


July 8-11
Maritime Fiddle Festival
If you haven't jumped into a square set and left drenched in the sweat of others, you're truly missing out. The 67th annual Maritime Fiddle Festival wants to keep the art of fiddle playing alive. If you're new to the jig or song, they offer fiddle and step-dance workshops or stick around for the competitions.
East Dartmouth Community Centre, 50 Caledonia Road (and other locations), $5-20, maritimefiddlefestival.ca


OUT OF TOWN
July 8-10
Lobster Bash
A festival celebrating the local lobster industry, Lobster Bash features walking tours of Digby, live music, a Lobster King and Queen crowning and, naturally, the chance to eat lots of the well-loved crustacean. Bring your appetite for seafood and fun!
Digby, lobsterbash.ca


OUT OF TOWN
July 8-10
Pictou Lobster Carnival
Ah, Nova Scotia's coveted delicacy. Who doesn't like dunking lobster claws into salty garlic butter? Is there anyone out there? Show yourselves! Either way you can still rock to your Maritime favourite bands—The Stanfields and The Town Heroes—at this ocean-inspired weekend.
71 Front Street, Pictou, $10/$20, pictoulobstercarnival.ca


click to enlarge Thundercat plays Jazz Fest July 16
  • Thundercat plays Jazz Fest July 16

July 12-17
Halifax Jazz Festival
Lucky you if you already snagged festival passes because the much-anticipated Ms. Lauryn Hill is sold out (duh). The Halifax Jazz Festival is turning 30 this year and to celebrate you'll hear a mish-mash of soul, rock, funk and Latin jazz. Beat the blues, and grab those individual tickets before it's too late. Acts like Thundercat, City and Colour, Metric, Nile Rogers and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band will blow you away.
Jazz Fest Main Stage, Lower Water and Salter Streets (other shows at various locations), free-$68, halifaxjazzfestival.ca


OUT OF TOWN
July 13-17
Seafest
With events ranging from free museum tours to a seafood chowder cook-off, the sea-themed festival offers something for everyone. Get to know picturesque Yarmouth with one of the many free walking tours and enjoy the unspoiled shoreline views!
Yarmouth, seafest.ca


OUT OF TOWN
July 14-17
Acoustic Maritime Music Festival
Picture this: You're on a boat fishing striped bass onlooking an 800-foot beach and you hear David Myles belting smooth ballads in the distance. Idyllic dream, isn't it? Well, the 12th annual Acoustic Maritime Music Festival wants to make that happen for you. Taking it back to when it was just the singer and their guitar, this festival boasts a fun-filled weekend getaway for the whole family.
Kempt Shore Oceanview Campground, 5701 Highway 215, Kempt Shore, $30-$90, kemptshorefestivals.com


click to enlarge DYLAN WHITE
  • Dylan White

July 14-24
Halifax Pride Festival
It's the most colourful time of the year! The annual Halifax Pride Festival is back with its 11 days of events, dedicated to celebrating LGBTQ+ and their allies. As always, there will be a roster of fun—and a parade—so get out there and paint the town rainbow!
various locations, halifaxpride.com


OUT OF TOWN
July 15-17
Neely G Festival of Music
A weekend of roots, celtic and blues, this rural festival is about as off-the-grid and atypical as you can get. Get back to nature with their rustic campground and enjoy the sounds of The Divorcees, fiddler Katherine Moller, Tomato/Tomato and more. Don't forget the bug spray!
R10 Venue in Long Creek, near Sussex, NB, $82-125, neelyg.com


July 21-August 14
Halifax Summer Opera Festival
Back for its third season, the Halifax Summer Opera Festival features the best in Maritime opera talent. This year's festival features performances of Handel's "Rodelinda," Mozart's "Cosi fan tutte" and Puccini's "Gianni Schicchi." For the serious opera lover, you can be there for every cadenza by purchasing a season pass.
Dalhousie Arts Centre, 6101 University Avenue, tickethalifax.com


July 22-24
Africa Festival of Arts and Culture
Showcasing and celebrating the food, music and art of Africa, this festival returns for its sixth year. Bringing their culture to the waterfront, expect to be wowed by all handmade fancies from African artisans, with traditional dishes and workshops offered.
Halifax waterfront, afacs.org


OUT OF TOWN
July 22-23
Maritime Metal & Hard Rock Festival
Veterans of the Pavilion unite, it's now your time to shine (your Docs and leather). The Maritime Metal & Hard Rock Festival is gearing up for its fourth year at the Hants County Exhibition Grounds, and the line-up is sure to leave your ears ringing for weeks. Featuring performances by Black Moor, Chaos Theory, Dark Shrine and mystery bands, this year's festival promises to kick your ass.
Hants County Exhibition Grounds, 10 Wentworth Street, Windsor, NS, $40-$60, maritimemetalfest.com


OUT OF TOWN
July 22-24
Harmony Bazaar Festival of Women and Song
When it comes to female performers on festival lineups, this one rules them all. For an 11-year run, Harmony Bazaar has been dedicated to showcasing only women in song. Headlining this year are Heather Rankin and Ria Mae. Play on, queens!
Seacaps Memorial Park, 57 Hall Street, Lockeport, $10-$95, harmonybazaar.com


OUT OF TOWN
July 22-25
Future Forest Festival
Ever wondered what it's like to be a woodland creature frolicking through the forest? If the answer is yes, then Future Forest is your new home. An interactive celebration between nature and the varied world of electronic music, this festival blankets you with both its trees and camaraderie. Grab your paint, kids.
Wark's Point Road, Bright, NB, $159-$199, futurefest.ca


OUT OF TOWN
July 23
Hantsport Music Festival
You better get ready to wail and stomp at this day-long outdoor music fest. Featuring the musical stylings of Matt Minglewood, Terry Whalen Band and No Name Blues Band, you should pack your spoons.
Foundry Field, Hantsport, $25-$30 (camping available for $10), hhmf.ca


OUT OF TOWN
July 24-27
Saint John Contemporary Dance Festival
Venture to the southern New Brunswick city of Saint John for the fourth annual Contemporary Dance Festival, and be wowed by just how graceful the human body can be. Highlights include performances, workshops, parties and more!
connectiondanceworks.com


click to enlarge festivals-2.jpg

July 27-August 1
Halifax International Busker Fest
The Halifax summer staple is the biggest festival of its kind in Canada and it's turning 30. With performers from across the country and around the world making downtown their canvas at the five event stages, the cast of fire-eaters, sword jugglers, acrobats and many more of the weird and wonderful are sure to bring their A-game and expect your donations. (Don't be a dick, throw cash in that hat.) If you're looking for a reason to brave the chockablock waterfront in the summertime—this is it. Pro tip: Keep your buds close or they'll easily get swept away in the sea of tourists.
Halifax waterfront, free


OUT OF TOWN
July 29-30
Smokin' Blues Fest
Escape to the Annapolis Valley for a weekend of freewheeling blues and outdoor fun. An all-Maritime lineup means the chance to get to know the local music scene better, while the campgrounds offer many amenities like RV hookups and drinking water taps. Catch the rollicking live energy of Roxy & The Underground Soul Sound and groove to fellow headliners Terry Edmunds and Midtown Blues Band.
Hants County Ex Grounds, Windsor, $60 (without camping), $70 (with camping), smokinbluesfest.ca


click to enlarge Cakes Da Killa
  • Cakes Da Killa

OUT OF TOWN
July 29-31
SappyFest
Another summer rolls around and it'll soon be time for Sackville, NB to fill to the brim with blissful throngs of musicians and music fans. SappyFest brings the sap and the indie blessings of an always-diverse array of acts. Little Scream, Dilly Dally, TUNS, Cakes Da Killa and Wooden Stars are heading up the fest this year. Bring yourself, your friends and a tent—this is the kind of fest where no one comes back without a story.
Sackville, NB, $100, sappyfest.com


OUT OF TOWN
July 29-31
The Riverfront Jubilee
Get rolling on the river at this annual New Glasgow music festival. Watch rising artists play alongside veterans of the music scene—this year's dude-heavy lineup brings local powerhouses Reeny Smith and Jessie Brown together with The Arkells, Coyote Glorious Sons, Burton Cummings.
Glasgow Square, 155 Glasgow Street, New Glasgow, $30-$150, jubilee.ns.ca


July 29-August 1
Natal Day Festival
The proper way to enjoy a long weekend is packing it with fun and festivities, and that's what this annual celebration of the city does. A parade, fireworks and a lots of live music (like The Mellotones and Asia & Nu Gruv) and events are on the books for the 121st Halifax-Dartmouth Natal Day. natalday.org


OUT OF TOWN
July 31-August 5
Miramichi Folksong Festival
For 58 years, folk and bluegrass lovers from northern New Brunswick have gathered in Miramichi to share songs and stories. Directed by Susan Butler, a local legend and recipient of the Order of Canada, this five-day fest is a chance to get away from the bustle of the city and get a taste of life at a slower speed.
Beaverbrook Kin Centre, 100 Newcastle Boulevard, Miramichi, NB, $15.75-$77.50, miramichifolksongfestival.com


click to enlarge festivals-1.jpg

August 5-6
Halifax Seaport Beerfest
Don't let the tiny steins fool you, this is a marathon not a sprint. Welcome the 10th anniversary of the summer favourite Seaport Beerfest by swigging back craft brews and ciders from over 100 producers, putting down a good base of tasty snacks and enjoying live music and the city's hottest DJs. Need we say more? Didn't think so.
Cunard Centre, 961 Marginal Road, $49-70 (per session) or $15 (designated drivers), seaportbeerfest.com


August 6
Cat Fest
Meow is the time to celebrate International Cat Day with the Museum of Natural History. Dress up in your feline best and enjoy events, crafts and more purrrrfectly planned kitty-themed festivities.
Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, 1747 Summer Street, 10am-4pm


August 14
Dartmouth Comic Arts Festival
DCAF is back for the fifth annual seasonal celebration of comics, cartooning and the talented artists making it happen. The all-ages friendly, free festival packs Alderney Landing with endless amounts of cool things you'll want to buy and cool people you'll want to meet, and gives a glimpse at the thriving local comics scene.
Alderney Landing, 2 Ochterloney Street, 11am-5pm, dcaf.strangeadventures.com

August 14
Clam Harbour Beach Sandcastle Competition
If you've ever dreamed of winning an award for that under-appreciated skill, your time is now. This competition recognizes sand architects and engineers who are bold enough to dream. Enter for your chance to win cash prizes, enjoy food vendors and groove to live music while spending your day under the sun. The beach temporarily transforms in a sandy Guggenheim, so amateurs take warning.
Clam Harbour Beach, 158 Beach Road, $10, halifax.ca/sandcastle


OUT OF TOWN
August 4-7
The Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival
Nova Scotia's longest-running folk fest shan't disappoint. With both traditional and contemporary acts, folks can delight in the musical stylings of Joel Plaskett, Dave Gunning and Fortunate Ones.
11 Blockhouse Hill Road (and various stages), Lunenburg, $72.50-$145, folkharbour.com


OUT OF TOWN
July 31
Nova Scotia Folk Art Festival
Since 1989, the annual Nova Scotia Folk Art Festival has been featuring eccentric folk pieces of art to fill your lawns, living rooms and cottages. This year there will be over 60 artisans to choose from.
Lunenburg War Memorial Arena, Green Street, Lunenburg, free, nsfolkartfestival.com


OUT OF TOWN
August 10-14
The Larlee Creek Hullabaloo
This Hullaballoo promises all the goods—music, friends and times. A tall order served but won't disappoint with the likes of Old Man Luedecke, Roxy & The Underground Soul Sound and Earthbound Trio. Just pack your tenting gear and bug spray, you're ready-set.
Baird's Memorial Campground, 12255 Route 105, Perth-Andover, NB, $58, larleecreekmusic.ca


August 12-14
India Fest
Celebrate Indian culture this weekend with many ways to learn and indulge—dance, music, food, jewellery and henna.
Halifax Forum Multipurpose Room, 2901 Windsor Street, 11am-8pm, $2


OUT OF TOWN
August 19-September 3
Wild Blueberry Harvest Festival
Enjoy the spoils of central Nova Scotia's wild blueberry harvest by sampling the sweet fruits in specially crafted dishes at this food festival.
various events in communities including Truro, Oxford and Tatamagouche, wildblueberryfest.com


click to enlarge Molly Johnson does Billie Holiday at PEI's Jazz & Blues fest
  • Molly Johnson does Billie Holiday at PEI's Jazz & Blues fest

OUT OF TOWN
August 25-27
PEI Jazz & Blues Festival
Kiss the end of summer goodbye with a trip to the Island. This year's Jazz & Blues Festival—which calls a big tent at Confederation Landing home—features Molly Johnson's tribute to Billie Holiday, John Gracie, Lighthouse and Port Cities.
Charlottetown, PEI, jazzandblues.ca


August 30-September 6
Halifax Urban Folk Festival
Watch the best live music venues in Halifax (like The Carleton and The Company House) fill to the rafters with urban folksters during this city-wide festival. Live performances and songwriters' circles round out the calendar of events, featuring acts like The Adam Baldwin Band, Norman Blake, Colleen Brown and more.
various venues, $6-15, halifaxurbanfolkfestival.com


September 3
Halifax Color Festival
Representing unity and diversity, the Halifax Color Festival is put on by the Indian Festivals Club of Nova Scotia and invites all ages and walks of life to enjoy live music, entertainment and various interactive games.
Dalhousie Quad, noon, $15-$40, ifcns.canada@gmail.com


September 21-25
Prismatic Arts Festival
This festival focuses on art in many mediums and prides itself on highlighting the works of many Indigenous and diverse artists. The 2016 festival's theme is celebrating the work of women of colour—this year's line-up of theatre, music, dance, spoken word and film hasn't been announced yet, but is sure to be spectacular.
various locations, Halifax, prismaticfestival.com


OUT OF TOWN
September 23-25
Deep Roots Music Festival
This festival is all about making connections, breaking down the barrier between music and musician. This year's weekend of concerts includes songwriters extraordinaire Classified and David Myles, Matthew and Jill Barber and Hillsburn.
Annapolis Valley, Wolfville, $79-$99, deeprootsmusic.ca

with files from Lewis Rendell, Shelby Bona, Danielle Cameron, Ashley Corbett, Mitch Mullen and Jeff Toth

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