Festival fever: 50+ summer fests to soak up

You officially have no excuse to be bored this summer.

Buskers Fest - NATHAN GREEN
Nathan Green
Buskers Fest

June 9-September 17
The Indian River Festival
A historic, gothic church in rural PEI lights up all summer long as a slew of hot Maritime acts (think Matt Andersen, Tomato/Tomato and Port Cities) perform under its pitched ceilings.
Indian River, Prince Edward Island indianriverfestival.com

June 11-24
Festival of Small Halls
Petite churches and pocket-sized community centres open their doors during this songwriting and storytelling fest that's as much about celebrating the scenery of rural PEI as it is about the music. This year's lineup slates over 50 shows to be held in 40 halls around the little red island, with a highlight on up-and-coming local talent.
Various locations on PEI, $10-$30 smallhalls.com

June 15-18
OUTeast Film Festival
The four-day film fest that highlights and celebrates under-represented stories returns with its trademark pink popcorn. OUTeast's sixth annual lineup features the perfect blend of LGBTQ+-centred love stories (A Date for Mad Mary and Signature Move) and documentaries about activists whose names we should all already know (Tom of Finland and The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson).
various locations,outeastfilm.com

Aboriginal Day Live
Starting with a sunrise ceremony is this packed schedule of storytelling, demonstrations and a both emerging and big ticket performers—like Don Amero, Marianas Trench, Kathia Rock and Tribe of One. Fun, educational and endlessly interesting, this day caps off with a Candy Palmater-hosted concert that's webcast with other events across the country.
Halifax waterfront, Sands at Salter, 10am-10pm, free

June 21-24
PEI Jazz & Blues Festival
Boasting an all east coast lineup, this jazz and blues fest features the cool vocals of Halifax's Reeny Smith and indie-rockers Hillsburn as top of the bill.
Charlottetown, PEI, $73 festival pass, jazzandblues.ca

June 23-25
Privateer Days
This trip to Liverpool is also a trip back to 1780: Battle re-enactments, rum runs and a historic encampment offer a dose of all-ages fun while opening a window to the past. Roam the town's quaint streets before settling in for live music from the likes of The Lewinskies and Asia & NuGruv on Friday and Saturday. Sunday, meanwhile, sees the town's multicultural festival return with the Maritime Bhangra Group and the Maritime Centre for African Dance, among others.
Liverpool, $10, privateerdays.ca

June 23-25
Saint John Contemporary Dance Festival
Dance lovers looking to see new steps by regional choreographers should make the pilgrimage to New Brunswick for this three day bonanza of performances in atypical places—including parks, art galleries and more.
Saint John, New Brunswick connectiondanceworks.com

June 23-25
Folly Fest
Every summer, a sleepy collection of farmhouses—the village of Gagetown, NB—gets jolted awake as Folly Fest descends for three days of music, art and beer. Camp in rolling pastures. Make 100 new friends. Take in the likes of Ben Caplan and Five Alarm Funk. Check out local artists at an old barn-turned-crafters' market. Get down at Folly's trademark silent disco with a host of Maritime DJs. And, eventually, return to reality and let Gagetown go back to bed.
Gagetown, NB, $128, follyfest.ca

June 23-25
Full Circle Festival
Sun worshippers, make your pilgrimage to Avon River Heritage Museum in Newport for this three-day celebration of the summer solstice (the longest day of the year). Kiss the warm air as music, food and family-friendly fun mingle around you and forget what winter's frost feels like. Get lost in the folky vibes of Australia's The Mae Trio and local favourites Willie Stratton, The Big Country Ramblers and The Barrowdowns. Camping, yoga and community bond fires round out the experience and will make your summer lovin' last far into fall.
Newport, $76 weekend pass fullcirclefestival.ca

June 24
Festival Stella
A celebration of modern Acadian culture, this afternoon sees traditional crafts, food trucks and family events take over the Salle George-Cottreau for hours of fun.
Salle George-Cottreau 201 C Avenue du Portage, 1-6pm

June 24-25
Once Upon a Fairytale: Chapter 2
A celebration of all things fairy tale, from magical creatures to Harry Potter, awaits at this two-day dreamland: Explore a medieval village, have a fairytale tea with Cheshire cats and visit Nocturne Alley!
Halifax Forum, 2901 Windsor Street, 10am-6pm, $5

June 29-July 6
Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo
Mix one part military tradition with one part Cirque du Soleil. Garnish with a twist of plaid kilt and what do you have? The fast-paced, two-and-a-half hour Nova Scotia Tattoo. Featuring drums, bands, gymnasts, dancers, acrobats, choirs, music, trampolines and the oh-so-Scotian bagpipes, the annual spectacle returns just in time for the Canada Day weekend. Scotiabank Centre 5284 Duke Street, nstattoo.ca

June 30-July 2
Stan Rogers Folk Festival
The little folk fest that could is turning 21 this year and boasts country titan Terri Clark as a headliner. Rounding out the bill? Toronto folkster Bahamas, alt-country crooner Doug Paisley and of course, Nova Scotia's own Old Man Luedecke. Join a crowd of old and young to bask in the intimate vibes of Bruce Guthro's songwriters' circles, a StanFest signature, and get to know your neighbours as you mill about the campsite.
Canso, $40, stanfest.com

June 30-August 12
AFF Outdoor Film Experience
Our love for watching films al fresco runs deep, so naturally we're pumped that the outdoor film fest is returning with a fun new twist: To celebrate Canada and the Public Garden's 150th birthdays, there will be free screenings of classic Canadian comedies throughout the summer in Spring Garden Road's fanciest patch of grass. If Strange Brew isn't for you, get in on the fun with family-focused flicks like Moana and the Lego Batman Movie at Dartmouth's Pondside Amphitheatre.
Public Gardens and Pondside Amphitheatre, Dartmouth Crossing free, atlanticfilm.com/aff-outdoor- film-festival

June 30-July 2
Lobster Bash
While the details of this year's Digby seafood celebration have yet to be finalized, you can expect to play fisher with events like lobster trap-hauling contests, banding competitions and other lobster-centric activities.
Digby, lobsterbash.blogspot.ca

June 30-July 3
Halifax Ribfest 2017
Ribfest is back this summer, serving up four days of saucy goodness, with one excited pig mascot helming the barbecue. Don't ask questions, just dig in—oh, and don't forget your bib.
Halifax waterfront, ribfesthalifax.ca

July 2-August 6
Granville Green
This year's lineup for the slew of free weekly shows in Port Hawkesbury, means the drive will be worth it: Ben Caplan, the Barra MacNeils and Good Lovelies have all snagged headlining slots. The sessions, which happen Sundays throughout July and August, would be the perfect cap to a scenic Sunday drive—bonus points if you bring a picnic to nosh on after.
Port Hawkesbury, granvillegreen.ca

July 5-9
Shediac Lobster Festival
Where better to feast on this treasure of the sea than the hometown of the world's largest lobster?
Shediac, New Brunswick shediaclobsterfestival.ca

July 7-9
Cavendish Beach Music Festival
PEI's three-day nod to cowboy boots, straw hats and yep, country music, draws big names in the world of honky-tonk. This year's lineup stars the Zac Brown Band, Little Big Town, and you know, Billy Ray Cyrus.
Cavendish, PEI, $170-$190, cavendishbeachmusic.com

July 7-9
Pictou Lobster Carnival
The Pictou Lobster Carnival is as varied as any carnival you can imagine, featuring races, parades and live music (like Rain Over St. Ambrose and Matt Minglewood). The star of the show, though, will always be meaty morsels of iconic Nova Scotia lobster, dunked in butter and plopped on your tongue. Mmm!
Pictou, pictoulobstercarnival.ca

July 7-10
Maritime Fiddle Festival
Learn the steps to a square set or add your name to Canada's longest-running fiddling competition at this annual celebration of jigs and reels that's been keeping beat since 1950.
East Dartmouth Community Centre 50 Caledonia Road, Dartmouth maritimefiddlefestival.ca


July 6-9
Halifax Lebanese Festival
Plates of saliva-inducing hummus, tabouli and za'atar prepared the traditional way by experienced hands make the Lebanese Festival turn every foodie's head. But don't think this three day celebration is only about the eats: Traditional Dabke dancing, documentaries about Lebanon and a sing-along game show round out the fun.
Olympic Community Hall 2304 Hunter Street

July 8
Dragon Boat Festival
Watch teams of rowers race for a good cause at the 20th annual Dragon Boat Fest! All funds raised will benefit the Nova Scotia Amateur Sport Fund.
Lake Banook, 192 Prince Albert Road, Dartmouth dragonboat.halifax.ns.ca

July 8-10 & 14-16
Peggys Cove Area Festival of the Arts
If you've ever thought that the red-and-white lighthouse at Peggys Cove was picture-perfect, this fest goes to show you're not alone. Spread over two weekends and featuring 30-plus artists, this fest has a plain air painting session which will undoubtably see fresh twists on the iconic view. If you spot a work you love, head back for weekend two, when you can peek into the makers' creative process.
Peggys Cove, $170-$190 peggyscoveareafestivalofthearts.com

July 9-16
Seaside Lobsterfest
Cape Breton's ode to crustaceans gives you a chance to crack shells in a variety of settings, from some of St. Peter's finest restaurants to shoreside at the lobster and corn boil. Live Celtic music and a cook off challenge that could score you "the famous bronze cracker award" round out the fun.
St. Peter's Cape Breton seasidelobsterfest.com

July 8-9
Cat Fest
Back for its third year with an added day of feline fun, Cat Fest promises to be the purrfect escape for cat lovers this summer. While event details are TBA, organizers have announced a pop-up cat cafe that will surely be the star of the schedule! Dogs need not apply.
Museum of Natural History 1747 Summer Street, 10am-4pm

Anderson .Paak - SUBMITTED
Anderson .Paak

July 12-16
Halifax Jazz Festival
The waterfont's biggest party of the summer returns with lots of outdoor shows! Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals have nabbed headliner status on the early release card, while local favourites like Reeny Smith, The Mellotones and Gypsophilia round out the first lineup announcement.
Jazz Fest main stage, Salter and Lower Water Streets (plus various locations), $129 festival pass halifaxjazzfestival.ca

July 12-16
Yarmouth's celebration of life by the sea offers a range of events from the Seafest Pageant to free museum tours to a chowder cook-off. It's a totally twee, super-summery way to get to know the picturesque town and enjoy unspoiled shoreline views.
Yarmouth, seafest.ca

July 13-16
Annual Acoustic Maritime Music Festival
If our digital world makes you crave the chance to disconnect, this authentically acoustic festival is the spot you can unplug. There're no amps, only microphones, and everything from blues and folk to Texas-style swing is doled out by local artists to music-hungry crowds. If that's not enough of a Twitter vacation, camping on-site and roaming the nearby tree-lined Avon River could do the trick.
Kempt Shore Campground, Hants County, kemptshorefestivals.com

July 13-16
Close your eyes and lose yourself in the neon, neo-Woodstock vibes (and try to overlook any man-buns) at the woodland-set New Brunswick festival that bills itself as the most eco-friendly fest in the country. This year's lineup includes Aussie singer-songwriter Xavier Rudd, hip hop trailblazers Arrested Development, DJ Shub and Can-rock mainstay Sam Roberts.
Moncton, New Brunswick, $230 evolvefestival.com

July 13-15
Summerside Lobster Carnival
The old-time fair of your summer montage dreams, this retro weekend features cardboard boat races, carnival rides, harness racing and lobster eating, obviously.
Summerside, Prince Edward Island summersidelobstercarnival.website

July 20-August 13
Halifax Summer Opera Festival
The 13th annual festival returns with enough luxe offerings to make any fat lady feel like singing. In particular, we can't wait to see Cavalli's L'Egisto, considered one of the greatest operas of its day, and Carmen, the opera so revolutionary it caused a riot at its 1875 premiere (how punk rock!). Oh, and no Italian is also no problem as all this fest's foreign language offerings have English projections.
Sir James Dunn Theatre 6101 University Avenue tickethalifax.com

July 20-30
Halifax Pride Festival
It wouldn't be summer in Halifax without Pride touching down it's rainbow-dipped wings. From official events to smaller groups' activism efforts, the city will be filled with colourful events. Make sure to get out and around early on July 22 for the parade, the star in Pride's event lineup.

Lennox Young

July 21-23
Africa Festival of Arts and Culture
The annual festival of visual, performance and musical arts returns! While no lineup has been announced yet, organizers say performers will be arriving from Montreal, Toronto, Nigeria, Kenya, Cameroon, Ghana, the Caribbean and Italy.
Halifax waterfront, afacs.org

July 22
Hansport Music Festival
It's a full bill of live music giving you your recommended daily intake of east coast sound with roots, rock and country by Signal Hill, The Amanda Jackson Band, Willie Stratton and more.
Hantsport, hhmf.ca

July 27-30
Nova Scotia Bluegrass & Oldtime Music Festival
Canada's oldest bluegrass festival features music from the likes of Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice, Acoustic Heartstrings and Janet McGarry and Wildwood. Make the most of the experience with rustic camping in the rolling outskirts of Bible Hill.
Bible Hill, $75, nsbluegrass.com

July 27-29
Lamèque International Baroque Music Festival
Go for baroque at this New Brunswick festival that sees world-renown artists sing and soar inside petitie, candy-coloured churches on an island situated off the province's northernmost tip.
Lamèque, NB, $129 festival pass, festivalbaroque.com/en/

July 28-31
Future Forest Festival
The mother of all raves held in mother nature, Future Forest is where you can let your freak flag fly, swirling neon hula hoops and exploring the trippy forest of neon mushroom statues (set in the literal forest, natch). Oh, and the typical roster of 80-plus local and international DJs bumping beats night and day doesn't hurt, either! The Fredericton area event is the place to be for house music heads.
Fredericton, NB, $17 futureforest.ca

July 28-29
Smokin' Blues Fest
Blues hounds will want to shake a leg over to the Hants County Exhibition Grounds for this edition of Nova Scotia's longest-running blues fest. A celebration of local women in blues and an ode to '70s blues-rock have been mentioned in the lineup, featuring names like Christine Campbell, the Terry Edmunds Band and The Blue Lane.
Windsor, smokinbluesfest.ca

July 28-29
Maritime Metal & Hard Rock Festival
Loud times in the Maritimes are on offer as hardcore kids can head-bang to the likes of Tri City Villains, Sleepshaker and Black Moor at this Windsor fest. Get details on the biggest show of musical madness this side of Quebec online.
Windsor, $50 festival pass, maritimemetalfest.com

July 29-August 1
Tall Ships Regatta
They're baaaaack. Prepare for packed waterfront times when vessels from around the world visit our port and tie up on the Halifax and Dartmouth waterfronts. Get onboard ships from Chile, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, among many others—there'll be 30 of them—meet crew members and enjoy a free kick-off concert.
Halifax and Dartmouth waterfronts

July 29
Cure The World Fest
Music to save our souls from the likes of Chicago's Jump Smokers, DJ IV, L3Ds and more. Held in Jemseg, New Brunswick, how far will you go (drive?) for sonic salvation?
Jemseg, NB, curetheworldfest.ca

July 29
Harmony Bazaar Festival of Women & Song
As more and more big festivals continue to under-represent women in their lineups, boutique festival Harmony Bazaar pushes back and stands up, offering a women-only bill. So far this year those going to the Lockeport festival can expect to sway and sing along to Irish Mythen, Lacewood and Gabrielle Papillon.
Lockeport, $85 harmonybazaar.com

August 2-7
Halifax Busker Festival
Strong women, fire eaters, Elvis impersonators and more wild, wonderful delights light up the waterfront with wacky offerings. As the entertainers bring their A-games, bring change and small bills to throw in their hats while wandering through the massive, tourist-dense crowds.
Halifax waterfront, buskers.ca

August 4-6
Riverfront Music Jubilee
This riverfront festival's lineup features a hefty dose of Canadiana (and dudes) with Alan Doyle snagging headliner status, but the middle card pulls its weight, too: Matt Anderson, Wintersleep and Matt Mays will all be dishing up steaming rock 'n' roll hotter than the August sun. Pass the sunscreen and start the car!
New Glasglow, $85 festival pass jubilee.ns.ca

August 4-6
Black River Music Festival
This Heatherton music fest features the likes of Matt Minglewood, Working Class Band, Big Fish, Jordan Musycsyn, LeeBoy, Ray Mattie and Jason Price.
Heatherton, $165 festival pass blackrivermusicfestival.ca

August 4-6
SappyFest 12
This New Brunswick music and arts fest has been making waves for over a decade, and its 12th lineup doesn't disappoint, delivering a much-needed dose of diverse voices in the sometimes too-white/too-male world of fests. Attendees should be sure to check out acts like Colombian-born noisemaker Lido Pimienta, Weaves, The Courtneys, Kirsten Olivia, Notes Of A Feminist Killjoy author Erin Wunker and film screenings curated by music historian Kevin Howes.
Sackville, NB, $96, sappyfest.com

August 5-7
Natal Day Festival
Over 30 events work together to make up this action-packed birthday weekend—fireworks, zumba classes, concerts, parades and more fun stuff for the whole fam. Halifax is 122, but it sure doesn't party like it.
various locations, natalday.org

August 6-11
The Miramichi Folksong Festival
Canada's longest-standing folk festival, the Miramichi Folksong Festival turns 60 this year. To celebrate, the northern New Brunswick fest that features small songwriter circles and intimate shows boasts a bigger-than-usual headliner: Fiddling legend Natalie MacMaster.
Miramichi, NB, $104 festival pass miramichifolksongfestival.com

August 6
29th Annual Nova Scotia Folk Art Festival
A celebration of over 50 folk artists fills the Lunenburg War Memorial Arena with colourful, fanciful creations in a host of formats.
Lunenburg War Memorial Arena 19 Green Street

August 9-13
The Larlee Creek Hullabaloo
This cheery little fest in the sleepy village of Perth-Andover is turning the big, loud one-oh this year! To celebrate, the outdoor fest's lineup boasts names like Ria Mae, Pretty Archie and Erin Costelo.
Perth-Andover, NB, $65 festival pass, larleecreekmusic.ca

August 10-13
Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival
The UNESCO World Heritage town of Lunenburg lights up its quaint slice of shoreline with songs from the likes of David Myles, Heather Rankin and Amelia Curran at this folky, folksy fest.
Lunenburg, $145 festival pass folkharbour.com


August 11-12
Halifax Seaport Beerfest
Craft brews, big names, special casks and tasting nibbles are all on offer at this bustling two-day beer bonanza. Raise a tiny stein to Seaport Beerfest in its 11th year.
Cunard Centre, 961 Marginal Road seaportbeerfest.com

August 11-13
Peace East 420 Festival
Three days of blissed-out, munchie-fuelled camping, music and comedy await on Higgins Farm. It starts at 4:20pm on Friday.
Middle Musquodoboit, facebook.com/420.PEACE.EAST

August 11-12
India Fest Halifax
Come for the vindaloo, stay for the Bhangra! Experience Indian culture, food, dance and music at this year's India Fest.
Halifax Forum, 2901 Windsor Street, 11am-8pm

August 12
The Atlantic Canada Harmonica Festival
A celebration of the harmonica and all who play it, this one day fest sees a swath of styles, from Isle of Skye to Mississippi Delta.
Memory Lane Heritage Village 5435 Clam Harbour Road

August 15-19
Festival of Dance Annapolis Royal
FODAR, Nova Scotia's only contemporary dance festival, is celebrating its fourth season, kicking off with the dance doc Mr. Gagaand showcasing a wide variety stages with a variety of flamenco, Indigenous hoop dancing and modern dance
King's Theatre 209 St. George Street fodar.ca

August 18-19
Riverfest 2017
A multi-genre soirée that sees the south shore go all out, this year's Riverfest features music by Short Notice and the Tri City Villains.
Bridgewater, $55 festival pass rockthebush.com

August 19-20
White Rabbit Festival
The Red Clay Farm offers rolling coastal views and art for your eyes, with many local creatives debuting their summer-long residency projects for you to gorge on. Think of it as an especially artsy summer camp with a luxe twist.
Upper Economy, whiterabbitarts.ca

August 27-SepTEMBER 3
Halifax Urban Folk Festival
The eighth annual folk-centric fest kicks off at The Carleton with a show from unicorn Kim Harris, and features gigs from John K. Samson, Tift Merritt and Leif Vollebekk.The Carleton,1685 Argyle Street, halifaxurbanfolkfestival.com

About The Author

Morgan Mullin

Morgan is the Arts & Entertainment Editor at The Coast, where she writes about everything from what to see and do around Halifax to profiles of the city’s creative class to larger cultural pieces. She’s been with The Coast since 2016.

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