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60 summer festivals and events to fill your schedule with 

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click to enlarge Busker Fest hits Halifax in August - SUBMITTED
  • Busker Fest hits Halifax in August
  • SUBMITTED

OUT OF TOWN
To June 24
PEI Mutual Festival of Small Halls
Since the best festivals act as both a sonic awakening to new music and a highlight of the location they're set in, the Festival of Small Halls is a goodie: A slew of small concerts held in churches, community centres and legion halls across Prince Edward Island, you'll not only discover a new favourite band or two (we recommend Adyn Townes and Rachel Beck), but see a snippet of the island you might otherwise miss.
Various locations, PEI, smallhalls.com

OUT OF TOWN
June 22-24
The Saint John
Contemporary Dance Festival
The other harbour city busts a move with contemporary dance shows held in atypical venues around town (think alleyways, parks and pubs).
Various locations, Saint John, NB, connectiondanceworks.com

OUT OF TOWN
June 22-24
Privateer Days
The iconic Liverpool festival returns to take you back in time with its historically rich depiction of life in the late 1700s. Witness a battle re-enactment, explore the historic encampment, check out the artisan market and more.
Liverpool, NS, privateerdays.ca

OUT OF TOWN
June 22-24
Full Circle Festival
"A newfangled stringband hootenanny," Full Circle gathers campers and music lovers to the Avon River Heritage Museum, near Windsor, NS. There, festival-goes will see acts like The Modern Grass, Beach Bait, Dana Sipos and Creature Speak, plus have the chance to partake in herb walks, yoga and kite making.
Newport Landing, NS, $63-103, fullcirclefestival.ca

OUT OF TOWN
June 22-24
Folly Fest
The sleepy, quaint village of Gagetown, New Brunswick is about to have one hell of a party on its hands: The neo-Woodstock-y Folly Fest—known for its outdoor camping, riverside yoga and barnyard shows that run the gamut from folk to hip hop—turns 10 this year. The lineup has up-levelled for the milestone anniversary occasion, with Plants & Animals, Olympic Symphonium and Old Man Luedecke all set to slay at the old farm where the fest is held. Time to start planning your rideshare to the picture province!
Gagetown, NB, $61-159,
follyfest.ca

June 26-July 2
Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo
With performances ranging from highland dancers to acrobats to military reenactments, the annual Tattoo is two and a half jam-packed hours of entertainment. A blend of Canadian and international acts that started in 1979, the festival combines traditional Maritime standbys (like bagpipes) with more eclectic, global offerings (like trapeze shows). This year's theme is "Heroes & Legends," celebrating such things as the First World War and the Tattoo's 40th birthday.
Scotiabank Centre, 5284 Duke Street, $32-107, nstattoo.ca

June 28-July 2
Bedford Days
The community celebration featuring lots of free, outdoor programming—and usually at least one fireworks show—returns.
Various locations, halifax.ca/bedforddays

OUT OF TOWN
June 28-30
PEI Jazz & Blues Festival
Charlottetown gets in the summer spirit with this a weekend full of east coast talent. We're marking our calendars for David Myles' show June 29 so we can see the bolo tie-wearing crooner shake a leg.
Charlottetown, PEI, $49, jazzandblues.ca

June 29-July 2
Halifax Ribfest
Meat-eaters, go hog wild: It's the annual celebration that brings touring barbecue chefs to town.
Halifax waterfront, ribfesthalifax.ca

July 1
Official Canada Day Fireworks
Alderney Landing and Ferry Terminal Park are super spots to peep this sparkler show marking 151 years of Canada's confederation.
Alderney Landing, 2 Ochterloney Street, Dartmouth, 10pm

OUT OF TOWN
July 1-August 5
Granville Green
A series of free Sunday night concerts brings all your favourite dudes—Lennie Gallant, Steven Page, Bruce Guthro, The Town Heroes, Rawlins Cross and Fred Penner—to this wee Cape Breton town on the weekly.
Port Hawkesbury, NS, granvillegreen.ca

July 5-8
Halifax Lebanese Festival
A four-day celebration of Lebanese food, music and dancing sees you noshing on A-grade baklava, witnessing the talents of a live band and seeing handcrafted work at the artisan gift shop. Pro tip? Come hungry as the full-plate portions are almost as legendary as their delicious content.
Olympic Community Hall, 2304 Hunter Street

OUT OF TOWN
July 6-9
Evolve
The hippy-feeling festival set outside Moncton returns for a weekend of peak summer vibes with Chuurch, J. Woora and Holly headlining the very deep bill. With 100-plus acts on deck, we'd like to take this time to remind any and all would-be party-bringers to pace yourselves and hydrate amongst the madness.
Moncton, NB, $189.50, evolvefestival.com

July 6-9
Maritime Fiddle Festival
For over 60 years, this Dartmouth celebration of jigs and reels has wowed fiddle-loving audiences from 'round the globe. A word to the wise from The Coast: Don't sleep on the fiddle competition, the longest-running old-time contest in all of Canada.
Various locations, Dartmouth, maritimefiddlefestival.ca

OUT OF TOWN
July 6-7
Maritime Metal & Hard Rock Festival
This two-day party claims to be the heaviest festival east of Montreal—something headbangers will love to confirm, we're sure. The face-melting lineup features acts like 7 Mile Stare, Spirit of The Wildfire and The Meat Sweats, to name a few.
Windsor, NS, $35.50, maritimemetalfest.com

OUT OF TOWN
July 6-7
Smokin' Blues Fest
Nova Scotia's beacon of east coast blues turns eight this year. To celebrate, the Windsor two-day fest is upping the ante with this year's lineup, featuring the Christine Campbell Band as top-of-bill.
Windsor Exhibition Grounds, 239 Wentworth Road, Windsor, NS, $20, smokinbluesfest.ca

OUT OF TOWN
July 6-8 and July 14-16
Peggy's Cove Area Festival of The Arts
It should never take convincing to spend a summer's day at our province's famous lighthouse, but the Peggy's Cove Area Festival of the Arts is the best excuse you don't need. Split over two weekends in July, the fest highlights the region's visual arts scene with open studio tours and a three-day plein art painting event that sees 35 artists capture the iconic rough rocks and colourful homes of Peggys Cove village.
Peggys Cove, NS, peggyscoveareafestivalofthearts.com

OUT OF TOWN
July 6-9
Cavendish Beach Music Festival
The PEI mega-fest returns with some of the biggest names in country—think Luke Bryan, Dallas Smith and Terri Clark. Pack your cowboy hat, but maybe don't wear it for the Shawn Mendes show.
Cavendish, PEI, $50-229.50, cavendishbeachmusic.com

click to enlarge JESSICA JUDGE
  • Jessica Judge

July 7
East Coast Kite Festival
A family-focused afternoon by Indian Festivals Club of Nova Scotia and Atlantic Kite Festivals, this event is all about seeing your kite soar above the city as you traipse across the Citadel, string in hand.
Garrison Grounds, 9am-6pm

July 7
Dragon Boat Festival
For the last 21 years, the Dragon Boat races have painted Lake Banook a nice shade of rainbow every summer in the name of the Nova Scotia Amateur Sport Fund. It's a local version of the boating that's been a Chinese tradition for over 2,000 years, and now takes place in countries across the world. The Dartmouth version of the race gathers teams of 22—you don't have to be an expert paddler—to put their best stroke forward in the name of charity. But it's not just about the race. Once you're done cheering, or paddling, there's a full day of activities to enjoy, from food to Chinese cultural entertainment, games, kids' stuff and vendors.
192 Prince Albert Road, Dartmouth, dragonboat.halifax.ns.ca

July 7-8
Cat Fest
The Museum of Natural History is promising that year four of the annual fest celebrating all things feline will be the biggest yet. There will be cat charities, vendors, hands-on activities and live cats taking over multiple areas in the museum. If you need us, we'll be at Lily Pad Cat Lounge's on-site cat cafe for the full weekend, k thanks bye.
Museum of Natural History, 1747 Summer Street, 10am-4pm

click to enlarge Daniel Caesar plays Jazz Fest - SUBMITTED
  • Daniel Caesar plays Jazz Fest
  • SUBMITTED

July 10-15
Halifax Jazz Festival
One of the waterfront's biggest parties, the Halifax Jazz Festival is always reliable for an epic lineup—and this year proves no exception with the likes of Chaka Khan, Daniel Caesar and The War On Drugs sitting atop the bill. Passes are sold out (with good reason) but individual tickets are still yours for the buying.
Jazz Fest Tent, Lower Water and Salter Streets, halifaxjazzfestival.ca

OUT OF TOWN
July 11-15
Seafest
Every July, Yarmouth pulls out all the stops as Seafest celebrates small town livin' on the edge of the Atlantic. Signature events like a chowder cook off, a rum-running race (where you legit do a cardio session while carrying a barrel of rum) and a fishing boat parade capped with fireworks keep fans coming back for more swell times.
Yarmouth, NS, seafest.ca

July 14-August 12
Halifax Summer Opera Festival
If you won't be caught dead missing a show at the biggest opera fest in Eastern Canada, spring for the season pass (it's a cool $160) and get your daily dose of duets and arias. More of a casual listener? You'll have multiple chances to catch Mozart's Don Giovanni, Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream and Monteverdi's L'Incoronazione di Poppea before summer's done.
Various locations, halifaxsummeroperafestival.com

click to enlarge SUBMITTED
  • Submitted

July 19-29
Halifax Pride
Time to dig out those rainbow brights as the most colourful celebration of the year returns to Halifax! After all, is it even summer in the city without Pride? For this year's LGBTQ+ extravaganza, the theme is "Because of you," which is a clever (and true!) response to the 2016 and '17 Pride theme of "This is why." Watch for panels, parties and, of course, the giant and ever-popular parade on Saturday, July 21.
Various locations, halifaxpride.com

July 20-22
Africa Festival of Arts and Culture
Experience a slew of diverse cultures as the annual festival showcases dance, food, music and art from Nigeria, Ghana, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Gambia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Togo, Uganda, Somalia, Burkina Faso, Congo, Ivory Coast, the Caribbean and the African Nova Scotian Community.
Halifax waterfront

OUT OF TOWN
July 21
Hantsport Music Festival
Regulars of The Lower Deck have surely already snapped up tickets for this one-day live music bonanza featuring party-bringing band Signal Hill, which made a name—and diehard fanbase—for itself on the pub's stage. The rest of you should grab tickets so you don't miss (arguably) Halifax's most popular cover band do its thing an hour outside the city, with Heather Rankin, The Brooklyn Blackmore Band and Ced, Marty & Dave rounding out the bill.
Hantsport, NS, $25-30, hhmf.ca

OUT OF TOWN
July 26-29
Stan Rogers Folk Festival
The iconic Canso, Cape Breton celebration of singer-songwriters (named after Cape Breton balladeer Stanley Allison "Stan" Rogers) returns with a stacked lineup including Joel and Bill Plaskett, Matt Andersen and Bruce Guthro. Camp out for the weekend for the full StanFest experience.
Canso, NS, $140, stanfest.com

OUT OF TOWN
July 26-29
Nova Scotia Bluegrass & Old-time Music Festival
The Bible Hill music festival throws it way back with this vintage-y-feeling lineup that's heavy on banjos and certainly not going electric anytime soon. Big names include The Bluegrass Brothers, Matt Lunn & Echo Mountain and Ray Legere's Acoustic Horizon.
Bible Hill, NS, $75, downeastgrass.com

OUT OF TOWN
July 26-28
Lamèque International Baroque Music Festival
It's a bit of a drive to get there, but this northern New Brunswick music festival goes for baroque every year with an epic lineup of sopranos, flutists and harp players from all over. The fact that you'll be chilling to the greatest hits from 1600 to 1800 in a host of tiny chapels that look like pastel jewellery boxes on an island in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence makes it worth the gas, no?
Lamèque, NB, festivalbaroque.com/en

July 27
Atlantic DRAG STAR featuring Shangela
Fill the time until the next season of Drag Race drops on Netflix in the most epic way possible: By seeing Rupaul's Drag Race All Stars 3 finalist Shangela in her element as she hosts the biggest and most diverse drag competition to ever hit the east coast.
Spatz Theatre, 1855 Trollope Street, 7:30pm, $30, tickethalifax.com

OUT OF TOWN
July 27-30
Future Forest Festival
Appreciate nature as much as you do electronic music? Here's a gift! The New Brunswick fest celebrates both, inviting festival-goers to camp out and jam out to psytech, trance, trap, bass and dubstep, bringing in artists like Misstress Barbara, Joe Nice, Alex Delano, Zeke Beats and many others.
Fredericton, NB, $189, futureforest.ca

OUT OF TOWN
July 28
Harmony Bazaar FESTIVAL of Women and song
On the south shore of Nova Scotia, Lockeport hosts "Atlantic Canada's only women's music festival," to satisfy your Lilith Fair dreams. See the likes of Rachel Beck, Port Cities and the Kendra Gale Band bring it in a slew of styles.
Lockeport, NS, $40, harmonybazaar.com

July 28
Nova MulTifest
With the aim of organizing the province's "rich cultural tapestry" this fest gathers performers, vendors, food-makers and artists on the Dartmouth waterfront.
Alderney Landing Parkade, 2 Ochterloney Street, Dartmouth, 10am-8pm, multifestns.ca

click to enlarge Busker Fest hits Halifax in August - SUBMITTED
  • Busker Fest hits Halifax in August
  • SUBMITTED

August 1-6
Halifax Busker Festival
It's peak tourist time as the buskers descend upon the waterfront with their sword-swallowing, fire-breathing, strong-person ways. Keep your buddies close as you navigate the wall of bodies, and don't forget small bills and coins to pay the buskers for wowing you with their quirky skill sets.
Halifax waterfront, buskers.ca

OUT OF TOWN
August 2-5
Island Fringe Festival
PEI's site-specific summer fest that's all about independent art and alternative theatre takes over Charlottetown for five days this August. See pieces like a play about a farmer's daughter who's also an Alice Cooper Stan to a concert pianist's take on stand-up comedy.
Charlottetown, PEI, islandfringe.com

August 3-6
Natal Day Festival
Halifax celebrates another cycle through the zodiac with lots of long-weekend fun, including a triple hit of fireworks: See a showing of sky sparklers from Halifax Harbour August 4 (Alderney Landing will be a prime viewing spot), the Halifax Common August 5 and at Lake Banook August 6.
Various locations, natalday.org

click to enlarge Witch Prophet - BRIANNA ROYE
  • Witch Prophet
  • Brianna Roye

OUT OF TOWN
August 3-5
SappyFest
Sappy Records' annual celebration of what's good sees music lovers in the know descending on Sackville, NB, to jam out to all sorts of edgy awesomeness, like Jeremy Dutcher, Bonjay, Witch Prophet, U.S. Girls and more.
Sackville, NB, $90.45, sappyfest.com

OUT OF TOWN
August 3-5
The Riverfront Jubilee
The long-weekend festival is heavy on the White Guy Rock (sorry Matthew Good and Jimmy Rankin) but the always-stellar July Talk as co-headliner, combined with the up-and-coming awesomeness of shoegaze Sorrey and a chance to see Reeny Smith slay with her long-awaited album in tow, make the drive to New Glasgow completely worth it.
New Glasgow, NS, $25-75, newglasgowjubilee.ca

OUT OF TOWN
August 4-5
Area 506 Festival
Saint John's bid for your August long weekend sees the Arkells, July Talk and The New Pornographers headlining an outdoor fest on the docks, surrounded by string lights and shipping containers. If the acoustics are anywhere as great as the aesthetics, it's gonna be golden.
Saint John, NB, $70-119, area506.ca

OUT OF TOWN
August 5
Nova Scotia Folk Art Festival
The annual hat-tip to folk art in all mediums turns 30 this year, so there's no better time to drive to Lunenburg to browse the 1,000-plus artworks on offer.
Lunenburg War Memorial Arena, 9 Green Street, Lunenburg, NS, 12-4 pm

OUT OF TOWN
August 5-10
The Miramichi Folksong Festival
For over 60 years, the tiny New Brunswick city has held the county's longest-standing folksong festival, seeing noon luncheons, a musical river cruise, plus concerts galore filling the festival calendar. The Barra MacNeils and Scott Woods Band headline year 61.
Miramichi, NB, $15-47, miramichifolksongfestival.com

August 5-12
Eastern Passage Cow Bay Summer Carnival
Summer is a feeling, and you can catch the mood at this eight-day fair filled with wholesome vibes: An on-site midway, free laser tag, food trucks on McCormacks Beach followed by fireworks and a sand sculpture contest are all part of the plans.
Eastern Passage, epcbsummercarnival.ca

August 6
Natal Day Parade
Starting on Gottingen Steet before taking the Macdonald Bridge and snaking along Wyse Road in Dartmouth, the 123rd annual Natal Day parade kicks off your long weekend Monday with a bang.
10am, natalday.org

OUT OF TOWN
August 8-12
The Larlee Creek Hullabaloo
Perth-Andover, NB, comes alive as this five-day fest descends on a handful of scenic, outdoor spots around the teeny town. We're already arranging the car rental to catch festival headliner Lisa Leblanc, the Acadian trash-folk queen who blends Bob Dylan and Dolly Parton into the sonic tonic you didn't know you needed.
Perth-Andover, NB, $25-42, larleecreekmusic.ca

OUT OF TOWN
August 9-12
Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival
Just when you thought quaint and picturesque Lunenburg—one of Canada's eight UNESCO World Heritage cultural sites—couldn't be any more of a summer destination, it drops this folk-focused fest that features Martha Wainwright, Madison Violet, The Outside Track, Fred Eaglesmith and more, playing stages that range from the town's opera house to church halls to an outdoor stage.
Lunenburg, NS, $175 (festival pass), folkharbour.com

click to enlarge Seaport Beer Festival - CHR!S SM!TH
  • Seaport Beer Festival
  • Chr!s Sm!th

August 10-11
Halifax Seaport Beerfest
For over a decade, this summer staple has been upping Haligonians' beer knowledge, offering craft-brewed suds and unique casks from across the country and the globe. Raise a stein and get in on the good times!
Cunard Event Centre, 961 Marginal Road, $49.50-$78.50, seaportbeerfest.com

OUT OF TOWN
August 10-11
Riverfest
Featuring everything from bluesy-rock (Bear Le Friends) to '90s tribute acts (Love Hate Love), Riverfest lets you get a dose of live music and vitamin D near the south shore centre of Bridgewater. On-site camping rounds out the experience.
Pine Grove, NS, $65,
rockthebush.com

August 10-12
India Fest
It's more than just eating—though you should come armed with your appetite. Besides plenty of food, this annual celebration of Indian culture features henna, fashion shows, cooking demos and more.
Indian Festivals Club of Nova Scotia, 16 Rosedale Avenue

OUT OF TOWN
August 10-12
Peace East 420 Festival
The "med-u-cation celebration" sees cannabis lovers gather to share some tunes (and maybe a joint or two) in the summer sun. At press time the festival lineup was still TBA.
Upper Stewiacke, NS, thcclub.ca

OUT OF TOWN
August 11
Atlantic Canada Harmonica Festival
It's a day of whistle-fuelled fun as harmonica players in a swath of styles—Mississippi Delta to Isle of Skye—teach how-to classes before an epic afternoon jamboree takes over Memory Lane Heritage Village. The cherry on top? An evening showcase that sees the masters show off some serious skills.
Memory Lane Heritage Village, 5435 Clam Harbour Road, Lake Charlotte, NS, $8-52

OUT OF TOWN
August 11
Canaan Mountain Music Festival
Blue Rodeo headlines this outdoor one-day fest in Kentville that's all about country tunes and sunshine-doused afternoons. Pack your cowboy boots.
Kentville, NS, $89.75, canaanmountainmusicfest.com

OUT OF TOWN
August 12
Clam Harbour Beach Sandcastle Competition
Over 10,000 people routinely flock to the Eastern Shore's celebration of sand-sculpting that sees storeys-high sandcastles be judged for things like creativity and architectural soundness. The horde will be even bigger this year, though, as the sand castle contest celebrates 40 years of building and bucket-dumping.
Clam Harbour Beach Provincial Park, Route #7, Lake Charlotte, NS, 9am-4pm

OUT OF TOWN
August 15-18
Chester Race Week
Halifax's Hamptons keep the luxe vibes going as its annual regatta—billed as the country's biggest for keelboats—sees sailboats racing by day and dockside concerts by night take over the town of Chester.
Chester, NS, chesterraceweek.com

August 15-18
The Halifax County Exhibition
It's not summer without the exhibition, as any east coast kid can attest. This year, the Halifax County Ex celebrates 134 years with a midway, parade and princess pageant—along with the agricultural demonstrations that these old-school fairs are famous for. (Think cleaning wool, butter churning and archery.)
190 Exhibition Grounds Road, Middle Musquodoboit, $6, halifaxcountyex.com

OUT OF TOWN
August 17-19
Dark Sky Weekend
Nova Scotia's only Dark Sky Preserve helps you wish upon a star with a spectacular showing of planets, galaxies and constellations, plus stories and discoveries for all ages. Plan to camp overnight or stay nearby so you don't miss a single falling comet.
Kejimkujik National Park, 3005 Kejimkujik Main Parkway, Maitland Bridge, NS

August 18
Mosaic Festival
This brand-new festival fills the void left by the multicultural fest's 2016 departure and then some: Live music, dance, vendors and a parade keep a wild party winding along the Halifax waterfront all day long.
Halifax waterfront, mosaicfestival.ca

OUT OF TOWN
August 24-26
Rock The Hub
The downtown Truro fest snagged some epic acts this year—Sloan, Matt Mays and Wintersleep all headline the bill—but it became obvious pretty quickly that something was missing from the lineup: Women. After an article from Coast arts editor Tara Thorne blasted the lack of gender parity of rural rock festivals and In Flight Safety removed itself from the event, the lineup received some needed tweaks: Jessie Brown, Like A Motorcycle and Christine Campbell are now all on deck, and the province's Hub City will be rocked all the harder for it. Civic Square, 740 Prince Street, Truro, NS, $49-125, rockthehub.ca

OUT OF TOWN
August 25-26
The White Rabbit Arts Festival
The annual festival of creativity and nature is celebrating ten trips through the zodiac this year, lighting up the Red Clay Forest with art, performance, music, and wonderment one August weekend. Explore the works made by artists during the White Rabbit Arts Residency while the Circus of the Normal does performance art on the main stage.
4715 Trunk 2, Upper Economy, NS, whiterabbitarts.ca

August 26-September 2
Halifax Urban Folk Festival
For the ninth year running, HUFF celebrates troubadours and songbirds with a series of shows at one of the city's best venues. At press time the lineup hadn't been announced, but check back for more on that.
The Carleton, 1685 Argyle Street, thecarleton.ca
—with files from Matt Dalton

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Vol 26, No 24
November 8, 2018

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