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Listen up! 25 summer music festivals worth the trek

Mumford & Sons play Osheaga Festival, Musique et Arts, Canada’s answer to Coachella. Photographs of Mumford and Sons during an Oct 25 2011 show at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ont.. (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Glastonbury is done, and this past weekend saw the successful happenings of Mariposa Folk, Stan Rogers Folk, the Northern Lights Festival Boréal and the inaugural Toronto Urban Roots Fest. Rest assured, however, that more summer music is to come, including the following festival favourites.

Winnipeg Folk Festival

The annual affair at Birds Hill Provincial Park has been around so long that when it first began, the mesmeric Kumbaya was a new song and nobody had yet memorized the chant-song's intricate lyrics. That's not quite fact. What's true is that for its 40th edition, the leafy fan-favourite is heading further into the woods, with the addition of a pair of forest stages for extra get-back-to-the-garden effect. Performers, who unfailingly vouch for the festival's smooth operation, include Juno-winner David Francey, the likable American Josh Ritter, the career-year-having Serena Ryder and the local-songster-done-good Del Barber.

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July 10 to 14, Winnipeg, or

Don't Forget: Calgary Folk Festival (July 25 to 28), Newport Folk Festival (July 26 to 28; Newport, R.I.), Pickathon (Aug. 2 to 4; Happy Valley, Ore.), Edmonton Folk Festival (Aug. 8 to 11)

Osheaga Festival, Musique et Arts

Canada's Coachella – the blockbuster must-go for the big-eared music fans who prefer to shop at one stop. So, while the festival poster devotes its biggest fonts for Beck, the Cure, Mumford & Sons, Frank Ocean, Phoenix and Kendrick Lamar, the squinters will read further down the bill for the new and elegant pop-soul star Lianne La Havas, English songster Jake Bugg and the sun-splashed siblings of the indie-popsters Wild Belle. Aug. 2 to 4, Parc Jean-Drapeau, Montreal,

Don't Forget: Le Festival d'été de Québec (to July 14; Quebec City) Tremblant International Blues Festival (to July 14; Mont Tremblant, Que.), Pitchfork Music Festival (July 19 to 21; Chicago), Heavy MTL (Aug. 10-11; Montreal)

Sappyfest VIII

Easygoing, communal and irreverent, the indie-rock gathering in small-town New Brunswick draws rave reviews from musicians and fans alike. The bills are eclectic, the scale is modest and it's one of the least physically excruciating festivals around. This year, see Montreal avant-folk duo AroarA, Toronto's dreamy Snowblink and leading Polaris Prize contenders the Luyas and Colin Stetson. Aug. 2 to 4, Sackville, N.B.,

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Don't Forget: Dawson City Music Festival (July 19 to 21), Hillside (July 26 to 28; Guelph, Ont.), Trout Forest Music Festival (Aug. 9 to 11; Ear Falls, Ont.), Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival (Sept. 10 to 15; Fredericton)

Squamish Valley Music Festival

Bigger, better, Squamisher. If you build it, they will Squamish. They came, they saw, they Squamished. You get the idea. In its fifth year, the mountain-set music nirvana almost doubles its capacity (to 35,000) with this summer's move from Hendrickson Fields and Logger Sports Ground to the neighbouring Centennial Fields. Situated roughly halfway between Vancouver and Whistler, the growth-spurting festival hopes for bigger crowds with the booking of Queens of the Stone Age, Band of Horses, Divine Fits, A Tribe Called Red, Vampire Weekend, Dan Mangan and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.

Aug. 8 to 10, Squamish, B.C., or

Don't Forget: Vancouver Folk Music Festival (July 19 to 21), Interstellar Rodeo (July 26 to 28; Edmonton), Burnaby Blues and Roots Festival (Aug. 10; Burnaby, B.C.), Salmon Arm Roots & Blues Festival (Aug. 16 to 18; Salmon Arm, B.C.)

Ottawa Folk Festival

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Once considered the red-haired stepchild of the folk circuit and a sleepy event deep in the shadow of the towering Ottawa Bluesfest, the capital-city folk-music affair continues its metamorphosis. Two years ago, Bluesfest took over operation of Ottawa Folk, erased its debt and applied its winning formula (big-name acts, regardless of genre, to widen the fan base). Full steam ahead this year: A fifth day was added to accommodate the booking of Neil Young & Crazy Horse. Other headliners such as hip-hop wunderkind Kendrick Lamar, poetic idol Patti Smith, classic-rock revivalists the Sheepdogs and college-crowd kingpins Vampire Weekend diversify audiences and confuse the granola-munching old guard. Sept. 4 to 8, Hog's Back Park, Ottawa,

Don't Forget: Ottawa Bluesfest (to July 14), Americanarama Festival of Music (July 15; Toronto), OVO Fest (Aug. 4-5; Toronto), Greenbelt Harvest Picnic (Aug. 31; Dundas, Ont.)

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About the Author

Brad Wheeler is an arts reporter with The Globe and Mail. More


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