According to the Weather Network, the next few months will be hot ones, with above-average temperatures and extended stretches of decidedly dry conditions. That’s your cue to slather on the sunscreen as you head to the outdoor festivals, and drink plenty of water while getting hot and sweaty at the indoor ones. Some of the extravaganzas listed below are close enough to hit by bus or Main Street–style fixie. For others, you’ll have to jump on the SkyTrain or load up the car. Whatever shows you choose, they’re guaranteed to drive home what you probably already know: for reasons that have as much to do with the weather as they do sheer selection, there’s no greater time to be a music fan than summer.
Festival D’été Francophone De Vancouver
Founded in 1990, Vancouver’s celebration of everything French and francophone-related has proven to be one of the city’s enduring multicultural events, hosting over the years everyone from country renegades Fringants Cowboys to alternative chanteuse Coeur de Pirate. This year’s edition spotlights headliner Alpha Yaya Diallo, with a genre-spanning support cast that starts with Cassandra Dubuc, Agathe Riopel, and Gabriel Dubreuil & Early Spirit.
Important details: June 13 to 23 at various locations; see lecentreculturel.com/ for full details.
Fan profile: French-culture enthusiasts who’d be just as happy hanging out in a Montreal café with Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin as with Teenagers and Voivod.
Red Truck Beer’s Truck Stop Concert Series
Truth be told, we don’t really need an excuse to hang out at the Red Truck Brewery—if you’ve tried its world-beating Mexican Lager, you know why. That makes the brewery’s Truck Stop Concert Series a no-brainer destination, the headliners for 2019’s announced weekend shows consisting of Current Swell (June 15) and Devin Dawson (July 20).
Important details: June 15 and July 20, at Red Truck Brewery; visit truckstopconcertseries.com/ for the full schedule and ticket info.
Fan profile: Craft-beer-nation members whose good taste in suds is matched by their good taste in music. And if the Mexican Lager isn’t enough of a magnet, the Truck Stop Concert Series will also feature stalwarts like the Matinee, Dirty Radio, the Abrams, Old Soul Rebel, and JoJo Mason.
Squamish Wind Festival
If there’s an upside to an entire generation being frozen out of the Vancouver real-estate market, it’s that satellite communities have not only been revitalized, but in some cases taken off from an arts and culture perspective. The Squamish Wind Festival includes art installations and cinematic special events, but the big draw is a musical lineup that includes Victoria’s deservedly revered Jon and Roy, with the undercard including Old Soul Rebel, Norman Foote, and John Welsh & Los Valientes.
Important details: July 18 to 20 at Junction Park in Squamish; go to squamishwindfestival.com/ for the full schedule and ticket info.
Fan profile: Anyone—which is to say all of us—currently on the hunt for a place to live that matches the beauty of Vancouver, but with a considerably reduced price tag.
TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival
If you’ve seen the excellent and essential PBS miniseries Jazz by documentary ace Ken Burns, then you’re probably able to connect the dots between the past and the present. As much as the genre is associated with giants like Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis, it’s also deeply woven into the careers of hip-hop renegades like the Roots and the mighty Wu-Tang Clan. That’s another way of saying that jazz is pretty much whatever the forward-thinking artist of your choice chooses to make of it. As always, one of the city’s most iconic cultural events doesn’t lack for choice, spotlighting acts that swing from King Ayisoba and Mats Gustafsson to our city’s own Snotty Nose Rez Kids and Ben Rogers. Add appearances by living legend Herbie Hancock, as well as the Roots and Wu-Tang Clan, and you’ve got every reason to feel sorry for those who say they don’t understand jazz.
Important details: June 22 to July 1 at various locations; visit coastaljazz.ca/ for the full schedule and ticket info.
Fan profile: Open-minded adventurers who are as at home at Frankie’s Jazz Club as they are at Fortune Sound Club. And, thanks to the more than 150 free shows that will be offered around the city, a small army of new jazz converts.
FVDED In The Park
Somewhere along the way, some bright visionary realized that it makes more sense to bring a major multiday music festival to the people than to expect people to road-trip to far-flung locales like Pemberton or the Gorge. Now one of the province’s premier festivals, FVDED in the Park straddles EDM and hip-hop with a lineup that includes R&B revisionist Khalid, house giant Zedd, Great White North upstart Tory Lanez, and hip-hop traditionalist French Montana.
Important details: July 5 and 6 at Holland Park in Surrey; visit fvdedinthepark.com/ for ticket prices and full lineup.
Fan profile: Urban music is now king in pop culture, with EDM riding shotgun. That’s another way of saying that FVDED in the Park’s target audience understands that two turntables and a microphone, not to mention an Apple laptop, trump a guitar every time.
Richmond World Festival
The Richmond World Festival has never lacked a cool factor, with past adventurous headliners including alt-pop mixologist Lights, Asian rap revolutionary Verbal Jint, and Brooklyn DIY sensations Matt and Kim. Add alumni like Dear Rouge and Walk Off the Earth, as well as a global-village area, artisan marketplace, food trucks, and a cavalcade of local talent. Watch for an official announcement of this year’s headliners later this June.
Important details: Labour Day weekend at Minoru Park in Richmond; watch richmondworldfestival.com/ for the dates and full lineup.
Fan profile: Bargain hunters with an appetite for the kind of artists you normally have to shell out a day’s barista wages to catch. Yes, the Richmond World Festival is free, which—assuming you don’t live in the city—makes the trip across the bridge for this year’s program of over 150 scheduled acts doubly worthwhile.
West 4th Avenue Khatsahlano Street Party
Once upon a time, Vancouver’s independent music scene was something that incubated in all-ages halls and on-the-fringe clubs like the Hungry Eye and the Smilin’ Buddha. Today, local music is one of the main draws of the wildly successful West 4th Avenue Khatsahlano Street Party, where seemingly half of Vancouver shows up not only for performances on multiple stages, but also for art installations, beer gardens, kids’ areas, yoga classes, and cooking demonstrations. Nearly 40 acts play this year’s edition, with headlining duties held down by indie-rock progressives Hey Ocean!, world-music masters the Boom Booms, and dream-pop upstarts Harlequin Gold.
Important details: July 6 on West 4th Avenue; go to khatsahlano.com/ for the full schedule.
Fan profile: A marquee summer event that has featured everyone from the Evaporators and Pointed Sticks to the Poppy Family and Slow, Khatsahlano draws more than 160,000 folks to West 4th Avenue for its blocks-spanning free party. That means pretty much everyone not only is invited, but shows up.
Vancouver Folk Music Festival
One of the most fascinating things about pop music is that it’s constantly in a state of reinvention. Folk music isn’t immune, thanks to such renegades and visionaries as Bob Dylan, Billy Bragg, and Fleet Foxes. In recent years, one of the biggest strengths of the Vancouver Folk Music Festival has been the way it’s been open to artists that don’t necessarily sound like the coffeehouses of Greenwich Village circa 1962. To that end, while P.E.I.’s Irish Mythen and Vancouver’s mighty John Reischman and the Jaybirds might fall under the umbrella of traditionalists, this year’s headliners also include Canuck alt-pop hitmakers the Sam Roberts Band, alt-country outlaw Corb Lund, and chamber-pop chanteuse Basia Bulat.
Important details: July 19 to 21 at Jericho Beach Park; visit thefestival.bc.ca/ for the full schedule and ticket info.
Fan profile: Folks of the opinion that few things in this world will ever match the game-changing brilliance of Bob Dylan’s Newport Folk Festival appearance in 1965.
Mission Folk Music Festival
Now in its impressive 32nd year, the Mission Folk Music Festival continues to appeal to traditionalists while expanding the horizons of the open-minded. Those who remember when Greenwich Village was folk’s ground zero won’t want to miss the Yukon’s Diyet and the Love Soldiers, while world travellers will get a chance to lose themselves in the sounds of Cuban export Wil Campa y Su Orquestra. Headliner Geoff Berner promises plenty of righteous indignation tempered with biting humour, while Saskatchewan’s Zachary Lucky makes a perfect soundtrack for escaping the summer heat under a towering cedar tree.
Important details: July 26 to 28 at Fraser River Heritage Park in Mission; go to missionfolkmusicfestival.ca/ for the full lineup and ticket info.
Fan profile: Folk fans looking to trade the roar and congestion of the city for something a little more, well, folksy.
Squamish Constellation Festival
The Constellation Festival offers one of the most spectacular settings of the summer season, with the event taking place at Squamish’s Hendrickson Field in the shadow of the mighty Stawamus Chief. Dreamed up by a group that includes long-time Vancouver indie-music champion Tamara Stanners, the inaugural edition sees Bahamas, Serena Ryder, Wintersleep, Jesse Reyez, and A Tribe Called Red joined by A-list locals like Peach Pit, Dear Rouge, Art D’Ecco, and the Boom Booms. And then there’s that setting, which would be reason enough to show up even if you’d never heard of gold-standard undercard acts like Half Moon Run, Foxwarren, Fast Romantic, and Cosmo Sheldrake.
Important details: July 26 to 28 at Hendrickson Field in Squamish; visit constellationfest.ca/ for the full schedule and ticket info.
Fan profile: Roadtrippers who couldn’t be more thrilled about getting in on the ground floor of a festival with big plans not only for this year, but also for the future.
Vancouver International Guitar Festival
Who among us hasn’t dreamed of spending an afternoon hanging with Jack White, Jimmy Page, the Edge, and Keith Richards? To get an invite to that kind of party, you’ll have to master the guitar first, and the Vancouver International Guitar Festival is a great one-stop stepping stone to six-string immortality. In addition to artists including Don Ross, Paul Pigat, and Jamie Stillway, there are luthier workshops, a guitar exhibition, and instrument demos.
Important details: June 29 and 30 at the Creekside Community Centre; go to vancouverguitarfestival.com/ for the full schedule and ticket info.
Fan profile: Professional pickers who can play Van Halen’s “Eruption” blindfolded, amateurs determined to progress beyond “Louie Louie”, and everyone in between.
Summerset Music & Arts Festival
Given the setting—the pioneer-times landmark known as Fort Langley—it somehow makes sense that the musical component of Summerset includes the country gold of Paul Brandt and the HiWatt roots rock of Rival Sons. Cancon staples Kim Mitchell and April Wine will also be on hand, along with the Trews, the Matinee, and JP Maurice, as well as food trucks, and craft beer, cider, and wine vendors.
Important details: August 30 to September 1 at Fort Langley; go to tourism-langley.ca/ for full details.
Fan profile: British Columbia history buffs who have always, quite rightly, thought Fort Langley would be a pretty great place for a music festival.
Westward Music Festival
Thanks to the Westward Music Festival, gone are the days when Vancouver music fans had to look longingly at out-of-town extravaganzas like Toronto’s Canadian Music Week and Austin’s South by Southwest. Now in its third year, Westward will have some of the city’s most beloved venues (the Vogue, Rickshaw Theatre, the Fox Cabaret, and the Biltmore) hosting a killer lineup that starts with multiple-threat Japanese rapper and heartthrob Joji, Aussie new folkies the Paper Kites, Brooklyn’s MC Leikeli47, and locally spawned titans Black Mountain.
Important details: September 12 to 15 at various venues; go to westwardfest.com/ for the full schedule and ticket info.
Fan profile: Proud West Coasters who’ve realized that sometimes you don’t have to leave home for a multiday blowout.
Kaleidoscope Arts Festival
Billing itself as an urban street festival—and located steps away from beautiful Lafarge Lake in Coquitlam—Kaleidoscope will include headliners indie-pop vets Current Swell, Winnipeg’s genre-jumping Royal Canoe and Hamilton’s roots-revisionist Terra Lightfoot. Throw in visual artists Richard Tetrault and Sandeep Johal, an artisan market, craft beer and spirits, and food trucks galore, and you’ve got something that proves you don’t have to live in Yaletown or off Main to consider yourself urban.
Important details: August 10 at Town Centre Park in Coquitlam; go to coquitlam.ca/ for full details.
Fan profile: Given the musical territory covered by the headliners, those whose iPod playlists swing from Prince to Neil Young to Leadbelly.
Sea To Sky Gondola Friday Sunset Music Series
You know what sounds better than the way that 98 percent of us spend our Friday nights in the city? That would be hanging out at the Sea to Sky Gondola’s majestic Summit Lodge as the sun sets on one of the most beautiful spots in the world. Because music makes everything better, the Sunset Music Series marries an already idyllic setting with acts ranging from the gorgeous indie folk of the Ruffled Feathers to fiddle ace Jocelyn Pettit.
Important details: Friday nights from June 24 to September 16 at the Sea to Sky Gondola’s Summit Lodge; go to seatoskygondola.com/ for the full lineup and ticket info.
Fan profile: Anyone looking for one more reason to be profoundly glad to live here.