The best way to think of festivals is as a smorgasbord—no one is going to judge you for getting your money’s worth. So sign up for one—or all—of the following festivals and then gorge yourself to the max this summer season.
Festival d’été Francophone de Vancouver
This year’s celebration of all things French includes everyone from Middle East–flavoured Ayrad to award-winning singer-songwriter Patrice Michaud to veteran hitmaker Daniel Bélanger.
Important details: June 14 to 23 at various locations. See Le Centre Culturel (lecentreculturel.com/) for full details.
Fan profile: Those who dream of one day moving to Montreal, or Quebec City, and not just for the authentic poutine.
Red Truck Beer Truck Stop Concert Series
The days of music fans aligning themselves with artists from a single section of the record store are long over. It makes sense, then, that the Truck Stop Concert Series features headliners that fall under the categories of thinking man’s pop (Coleman Hell), retro blues (Allen Stone), and cowboy-hat country (Michael Ray).
Important details: June 16, July 14, and August 11 at Red Truck Brewery; visit www.truckstopconcertseries.com/ for the full schedule and ticket info.
Fan profile: Craft-beer-loving Spotify subscribers whose most-played artists include, but aren’t limited to, Nick Waterhouse, Wes Mack, Pickwick, Jesse Roper, Rollin’ Trainwreck, and the Elwins. All of whom, coincidentally, will also be appearing at this year’s Truck Stop Concert Series.
TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival
At this point in the game, it might be time to consider changing up the name of one of the city’s most enduring cultural events. How about “the TD Vancouver International Jazz Institution”? Actually, scrap that idea, for no other reason than it sounds too formal, especially for a long-running fest that’s all about inclusion. As with past editions, expect high-wattage ticketed events (Macy Gray, Robert Plant, Dirty Projectors, Kamasi Washington), artists pushing the definition of jazz (Cherry Glazerr, Deerhoof), and free outdoor concerts for those convinced that the best things in life are sometimes things you don’t pay for (such as shows by artists including the David Blake Quartet, Dawn Pemberton, and Ilhan Saferali Combo).
Important details: June 22 to July 1 at various locations; visit www.coastaljazz.ca/ for the full schedule and ticket info.
Fan profile: What’s the common thread between those with an undying love for Minneapolis soul unit St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Manchester mashup maestros GoGo Penguin, and Grammy-winning supergroup Ghost-Note? Chances are all three disparate fan bases are going to the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival. They’ll have plenty of open-minded company.
FVDED in the Park
In rolling out the lineup of this year’s edition of the annual Surrey spectacle, promoter Blueprint promised a blowout “better than ever with increased capacity for bigger crowds”. Last year’s two-day show saw over 40,000 EDM and urban-music fans descend on Holland Park. This year’s FVDED is looking to top that with a bill that includes Atlanta rapper Future, Norwegian star producer Kygo, and Chicago house giant Kaskade.
Important details: July 6 and 7 at Holland Park in Surrey; visit fvdedinthepark.com/ for ticket prices and full lineup.
Fan profile: Remember when discerning music fans used to make the pilgrimage to Vancouver for megashows? Those days are long over, with FVDED one of the biggest, most reliable, and most consistently forward-thinking draws on the summer music schedule.
West 4th Avenue Khatsahlano Street Party
Stop and think, for a second, how lucky Vancouver is to have a mega-event like Khatsahlano Street Party. Spanning block upon block, and featuring everything from art installations to cooking demonstrations to yoga classes, the mammoth party is like Christmas in July for the city’s music fans. This year’s headliners include certified local legends Bif Naked, Frazey Ford, and Slow, as well as noted up-and-comers Actors, Sam Tudor, and Haley Blais.
Important details: July 7 on West 4th Avenue; free. khatsahlano.com/
Fan profile: With crowds that have topped 160,000 in past years, it’s fair to say that Khatsahlano pretty much looks like Vancouver: diverse and progressive. Respect to organizers of this year’s festival for making gender parity a major goal for the lineup.
Vancouver Folk Music Festival
Fans of art at its most uncompromising are justifiably thrilled at the headliners of this year’s Vancouver Folk Music Festival, with genuine originals Neko Case, Ry Cooder, and Rodney Crowell topping the bill. As for the undercard, expect the usual brilliantly eclectic mix of world-music imports (Argentina’s Melingo, Mozambique’s Wazimbo & Banda Kakana) and homegrown Canadian heroes (Kacy & Clayton, Alex Cuba, and Petunia and the Vipers).
Important details: July 13 to 15 at Jericho Beach Park; visit thefestival.bc.ca/ for the full schedule and ticket info.
Fan profile: Open-minded, tolerant, and lucky to possess a genuine curiosity when it comes to music.
Richmond World Festival
As if the 50-plus food trucks, global-village area, and artisan marketplace weren’t enough of a draw, the Richmond World Festival also features a cavalcade of artists spread across multiple stages. Past headliners have included Asian rap superstar Verbal Jint and Brooklyn DIY darlings Matt and Kim. Watch for the fest—which remains free, as always—to release its lineup in July. If you need a free Richmond-related musical primer, head to the city’s free Canada Day celebration in Steveston, featuring Big Sugar and Terra Lightfoot.
Important details: August 31 to September 1 at Minoru Park in Richmond; see richmondworldfestival.com/ for the full lineup.
Fan profile: Folks who’ve figured out that there’s more happening over the bridge than the Richmond Night Market—which, while we’re on the subject, has us crossing our fingers that the Squid Co. will be one of the food trucks on-site at the Richmond World Festival. If you haven’t had a tub of pan-fried satay squid, you haven’t lived.
For the headliners alone in its inaugural year, SKOOKUM Festival has jumped to the front of the line of major musical events not just in the city, but in the country. Clearly not of the mind that you start small and work up to something big, organizers have come out blazing with a lineup topped by Arkells, the Killers, and Florence + the Machine. Add an undercard including critical darlings St. Vincent, Father John Misty, the War on Drugs, and X-Ambassadors, and you’ve got the best reason to visit Stanley Park this side of the seawall and miniature train.
Important details: September 7 to 9 at Stanley Park’s Brockton Field; visit skookumfestival.com/ for the full schedule and ticket info.
Fan profile: Megafestival fans who’ve been wearing black armbands ever since the Squamish Valley Music Festival and Pemberton Music Festival closed up shop. The big bonus is you don’t even need to leave the downtown core for one of the big-ticket celebrations of the year.
Westward Music Festival
If the folks at Westward Music Festival have figured something out, it’s that few things compare to the thrill of seeing great music in an intimate club. The second edition sees a genre-spanning lineup ranging from soul-pop upstart Kali Uchis to R&B queen Kelela to melancholy indie chanteuse Angel Olsen. Add a support cast including Metz, Mudhoney, Odds, and A$AP Twelvyy, and then thank the ghost of Bill Graham that shows will take place in some of the city’s most revered venues, including the Vogue, Biltmore, Fox Cabaret, and Fortune Sound Club.
Important details: September 13 to 16 at various venues; go to westwardfest.com/ for the full schedule and ticket info.
Fan profile: Hard-core music disciples who love being able to say ‘I saw them when…”