Nine outdoor festivals worth planning your summer around

Nine outdoor festivals worth planning your summer around

Sasquatch, Tiny Lights, Market Fest, Starbelly Jam, Unity Music Festival, Kaslo Jazz Etc. Festival, Shambhala, Wapiti, Ponderosa

Sasquatch! Festival

Quincy, WA / May 24-27 / Tickets sold out

For many local music lovers the summer festival season can’t come soon enough, which is why making the trip down to The Gorge Amphitheatre for Sasquatch has become an annual tradition for a lot of Kootenay folk.

A five hour drive south from here, the festival venue is one of the most scenic you’ll find anywhere in North America, and the desert climate means you can bust out your tank tops early.

More than 125 bands will play on five stages over the course of the long-weekend. The lineup is comprised of mostly indie rock bands with some rock, hip hop and EDM thrown in for good measure. Some of this year’s headliners include: Mumford & Sons, The Postal Service, Vampire Weekend, The Lumineers, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, The xx and Sigur Rós. Canadians on the bill include Elliot Brood, Grimes, Japandroids, Shad, and Suuns.

Now in its 12th year, Sasquatch has gained such popularity that its 25,000 four-day passes sold out in less than an hour. So if you managed to get your hands on one, consider yourself lucky: This weekend you’ll be packing your bags and hitting the road.


Tiny Lights Festival

Ymir, BC / June 15-16 / $75 adult, $45 youth, day passes available

Ymir’s Tiny Lights Festival is two days of music, theatre, workshops, and much more, modelled after the Artswells festival in Northern BC.

Organizers Carla and Shawn Stephenson ran a stage at Artswells for eight years before creating the local spinoff last year. They saw the similarities between Ymir and Wells — both being old mining towns with a population of around 300.

With five stages in the historic buildings of Ymir, part of the appeal is enjoying the action in small, intimate venues.

Some highlights from this year’s lineup include music by Jaron Freeman Fox, Miami Device, and Morelove; and theatre by Lucas Myers, and Mind of a Snail Puppet Company. There will be spoken work, dance and art demos, as well as workshops, historical reenactments — and so much more.

Get your tickets at


Market Fest

Nelson, BC / June 28, July 26, August 23 / Free

Nelson’s street festival pops up on Baker Street three times over the course of the summer. Several blocks are shut down to make room for about 100 vendors, with everything from clothing to fine art and food to face painting.

Two stages bookend the market area with live music going into the evening and plenty of room to dance or take in the show. Local dance troupes and competitive skippers can also be seen on the MarketFest stage.

A tenth of the population of Nelson will flood into the street for these free monthly markets. It’s an especially popular place for families when the weather co-operates.  It’s a great place to bump into old friends and take in a warm summer evening, while doing a bit of shopping.


Starbelly Jam

Crawford Bay, BC / July 19-21 / $105 adult, $60 youth, day passes available

Year after year Starbelly Jam Music Festival has been committed to bringing the best of local, national and international music to Crawford Bay — and this year is no different.

From the unique folk-style of Kimya Dawson, whose music appeared on the acclaimed Juno soundtrack to the inspiring sounds of Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars, to Australian urban roots band Blue King Brown, Starbelly is bringing the music of the world to the Kootenays from July 19 to 21.

With the full festival line-up announced earlier this month organizers are anticipating another great event.

“It’s always an exciting time when people see the line-up and share with us who they’re looking forward to seeing,” said artistic director Lea Belcourt. “I really think the line-ups get better every year.”

Tickets can be purchased online at


Unity Music Festival

Solcan City, BC / July 27-28 / $65, day passes available

Unity Music Festival, now in its third year, is moving to the beach site in Slocan City.

Unity Fest is a great family-friendly celebration of music and culture in the Slocan Valley.

Headliners include Adam Shaikh, Tofu Stravinsky, Erica Dee and more. Expect many free workshops in dance and art, plates of homemade food, vendors and artisan booths, music and spoken word.

Profits from the festival are donated to children and youth groups in the area by the Slocan Valley Cultural Alliance.

Get your tickets at


Kaslo Jazz Etc.

Kaslo, BC / August 2-4 / $164 adult, day passes available

Kaslo Bay Beach is the place to be on the August long weekend.

Now in its 22nd year, Kaslo Jazz Etc. Festival has become synonymous with great music and an intimate beautiful setting. The venue’s unique location provides festival patrons with natural amphitheater surrounded by pristine wilderness to enjoy while watching the performances on the floating stage nestled on the shoreline of Kootenay Lake.

Jazz may be in the festival’s name but it doesn’t end there. Many acts who have performed on the floating stage included blues, funk, soul, world, latin and jazz bands.

This year’s lineup features Mickey Hart Band and the African Showboyz, the Dan Brubeck Band, Paul Peress and many other spectacular performers. Kootenay-based performers include the Clinton Swanson Blues Band, Melody Diachun, the Selkirk Trio, the Jan Van Gold Band, Eric and Shauna, Approaching Normal and the Funky Plucks.

See the full lineup and get your tickets at


Shambhala Music Festival

Salmo, BC / August 7-12 / $310

Some 10,000 ticket holders and a crew of 2,000 mostly-volunteers will once again converge on a Salmo cattle ranch to help Shambhala celebrate its Sweet Sixteen.

What started as a gathering of 500 has grown into an event that has twice beat out Burning Man in the Best Large Event category of the International Breakspool Awards.

The festival grounds features six themed stages, each with their own stage director booking the talent for that stage. The lineup features mainly electronic music, but there’s also some hip hop, rock and other genres in the mix. This year’s performers include: A-Trak, Opiuo, Kastle, Nick Thayer, Krafty Kuts and hundreds more.

A temporary village is built to sustain the crowds who camp onsite for five days.

There are still tickets available to this year’s festival. Get yours at


Wapiti Music Festival

Fernie, BC / August 9-10 / $75 adult, free for kids and seniors

Wapiti Music Festival is back for a third year in Fernie’s Annex Park.

Intentionally scheduled on the same weekend as Shambhala to keep the numbers down, Wapiti is the perfect place to escape to for a relaxed weekend, watching great bands from the comfort of your lawn chair or beach blanket during the day and dancing into the night.

This year’s lineup features Plants and Animals, The Current Swell, Inlet Sound, Shred Kelly and the Good Ol’ Goats.

Tiered ticket prices offer the lowest prices to people who buy early. If you buy now, you can get a weekend pass for $55.

For all the lineup details and ticket sales visit


Ponderosa Festival

Rock Creek, BC / August 30 to September 1 / $125 adult

There’s a new festival coming to Rock Creek this Labour Day long weekend and it’s called the Ponderosa Arts & Music Festival. The event will showcase artists and musicians from Western Canada and attract people from all over to enjoy the amazing beauty of the Kettle Valley.

Musical genres will vary between folk, indie rock, electronica and funk. Some of this year’s bands include Gold & Youth, Bend Sinister, Humans, and Close Talker.

In addition to music, Ponderosa will be showcasing works from local artisans and businesses, and a variety of delicious foods will be available to tickle every type of taste bud.

The open air festival includes camping accommodations adjacent the festival grounds and the Kettle River.

For a limited time, you can buy four festival passes at a reduced price of $400.

Buy your tickets at