Your Summer To-Do List: Toronto Music Festivals

We have four months of summer to make the best of our small but critical student budget. This may be hard while you're window-shopping on Bloor Street or dragging your hungry body down Spadina, but it's time to spend those dollars on something worthwhile. If you are looking to be surrounded by the clamor and uproar of hundreds, or even thousands of people, or to be serenaded by chic and groovy tunes in an intimate side venue unbeknownst to others, then you don't need to go anywhere outside the GTA. Here is a list of music festivals that you should definitely cross off your “Summer To-Do List.”

Next Music From Tokyo

Next Music From Tokyo is a “mini tour” sponsored by just one Torontonian and his love for Japanese punk rock. Now, don’t be intimidated - it can be hard getting into the punk scene, but this concert brings in a variety of levels, sounds and experimental tunes that everyone and anyone will want to lose themselves to on the dance floor. Though these bands are little known in their hometown, this festival has given them a worthy following in Toronto. These concerts are the ones where you’re asked, demanded even, to get up on stage, trust the crowd, and jump off. And for ten dollars, why not?


North by Northeast is a week-long music and film festival in June, for anyone who just likes music - regardless of genre. I think I can relate. 

Rock, hip hop, pop, techno, Indie, with more acts than you can count, this festival will force your adventurous side to take charge in a trek across the city. Young-Dundas Square is open to all for daily free concerts by the big and famous groups to the small and underground artists. If possible, getting hold of a day pass (approximately $30) will give you access to different clubs, bars, pubs, and even movie theaters, while enabling you to avoid wait times and line ups. Spend a day as a revele and go around to visit places you’ve never stepped foot in before. From Adelaide Hall to the Bovine Sex Club and Cameron House, all the way to the Danforth Music Hall, this is one of the best ways to get to know Toronto.

Toronto Jazz Festival

If Toronto is known for one thing, it’s our jazz. Local jazz musicians are world renowned, not to mention heads of the jazz program at UofT, YorkU and Humber. for a week and a half in June, we have the opportunity to explore the art that turns basic scales into funk, grooves, blues and beautiful ballads. The doors of local jazz gems, like The Rex, Jazz Bistro and Poetry Jazz Café open their doors for all who wish to come and sit for a concert or two, while two main stages have been put up in Nathan Phillips Square. At first glance, the program may seem overwhelming with hundreds of little acts taking place all over the city. But if you trust your ears, walking down the street may be the simplest way to handle the daunting list.

Digital Dreams

For the electronic dance music lovers out there, Digital Dreams is a weekend fest brimming with acclaimed DJs and dance party enthusiasts. Though the tickets don’t come cheap, entrance into Ontario Place includes a landscape of seating options, merchandise, food vendors and, of course, a party that starts in the afternoon and goes on until late evening. As the biggest electronic festival in Canada, three stages become filled with a myriad of singers, producers and DJs waiting to mix eclectic, explosive sounds - all for you.


Now in its sixth year, this concert brings together big name hip-hop artists curated by Toronto’s very own Drake. This year, the festival made some changes to its traditional structure. OVO has expanded from a two day event into three, and instead of taking place at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, this year also sees the festival expanding to the Air Canada Centre. With past surprise guests such as Kanye West and Diddy, this concert is worth the wait. If hip-hop is your thing, and if you’ve ever wanted to see Drake fly into a crowd, then OVO is a must on your 2015 Summer To-Do list.  

Toronto has music festivals falling under countless genres throughout the summer. But just because these are official music festivals, don’t forget that many other festivals like Taste of the Danforth, Taste of Little Italy, Caribana, Salsa on St. Clair and will also provide various chances to experience Toronto’s ever intermingling culture. It's time to spend our money on experiences that will stay with us longer than clothes and fast food, and on something that we'll be proud to brag about well into the new school year. 

Photo Credits - Image via Digital Dreams Festival Facebook