A few summers ago my friends and I piled into a car and traveled to the nearest Fringe Festival. On the way, we misplaced the keys, paused to savour the unfolding forests and lakes, and lost someone at a roadside stop, all before we even made it to the festival.
That journey became part of the stories we told months later in the middle of winter when we’d be together again and remember the days of baking in the sun and dancing in the cooling rain; ear-throbbing drum beats and reverberating guitars.
Summer is just starting, so go create those same kind of stories at music festivals across Ontario’s Highlands! When winter comes and gatherings retreat inside to cozy homes, the favourite CDs collected at summer festivals will conjure up memories of warm evening breezes wafting delicious tunes offstage.
Make some music memories with this calendar of “pile-into-your-car-and-go” festivals taking place this summer:
The Mountain Man Music Festival
When: June 16-18, 2017
Where: Calabogie Peaks Resort (Calabogie, ON)
Journey deep into the Highlands for the Mountain Man Music Festival — so far removed from the city that admission includes the scent of fresh air, the enfolding presence of mountains, and music mixing with the night breezes on your face. Revel in this moment of being outside, together with your friends, under the stars. Sit back and get ready to rock with bands like The Glorious Sons, The Owns, and Diemonds.
Stewart Park Festival
When: July 14-16, 2017
Where: Stewart Park (Perth, ON)
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find it hard to plan ahead and buy tickets on time with my group of friends. What we sometimes need is the opportunity not to have to plan – to just show up and pay at the door. Stewart Park Festival is that place for us.
You can pay admission by donation when you show up, then ramble with your group around the festival grounds by the beautiful Tay River, tasting local ice cream and collecting memories. With the handiwork of local artisans displayed at the market, it’s the perfect opportunity to discover a piece that will spark memories of the fun had.
Drink in the feast of tunes coming from one of the three stages – everything from Irish Mythen’s folk tunes to classical numbers performed by the Rideau Lakes Orchestra.
Tweed Stampede and Jamboree
When: August 4-7, 2017
Where: Trudeau Park Resort (Tweed, ON)
Did you know that there are stampedes in this part of Canada? Neither did I. The Tweed Stampede and Jamboree offers the chance to experience something brand new with those who matter most.
Immerse yourselves in unforgettable events like bronco riding, and experience the thrill of trucks trying to pull heavy equipment. Drink in the sight of the bone-jarring dexterity needed to ride horses at top speed around barrels. This festival wouldn’t be complete without the rhythms of country music — artists like Gord Bamford and David James — that drift over the crowd, providing the chance to unwind and savour the rich notes.
When: August 10-13, 2017
Where: Horse Country Campground (Forester’s Falls, ON)
Fans of bluegrass will love the Pick-N-Ride Festival, which pairs the feeling of an intimate bluegrass concert (by eight different bands!) with everything else city slickers need for a true “cowboy” experience on what feels like a remote Wyoming ranch – that happens to be within an hours’ drive from Ottawa! The weekend features great tunes headlined by grammy-nominated Special Consensus, as well as outdoor resort adventures, cultural performances and horsemanship demonstrations by Calgary Stampede champion David Cowley. Personally, I can’t wait to immerse myself in bluegrass culture and feel like I am truly getting away while I camp out for the weekend – the spirited breakdowns and jigs are sure to make me long for ranch life.
The Forest Festival
When: August 16-20, 2017
Where: Haliburton Forest and Wild Life Reserve (Haliburton, ON)
At the Haliburton Forest Festival, you can sit and watch as the sky turns pink and then deep blue behind the floating stage on Bone Lake while all-Canadian performers send out melodies that roll up the hill to where you and your group have claimed your spot. The magic of this festival comes back to me with the scent of pine trees, reminding me of the time I spent surrounded by friends under the stars. Sit back and let the variety of music nourish your soul: the restless creative force brought by Buffy Sainte-Marie, the full energy of blues from Angel Forrest, the sweet country tunes of Jimmy Rankin, and the memorable notes of the Jim Cuddy Trio.
Did I miss any? If you have a similar list of festivals my friends and I should check out this summer – tell us on our Facebook page!
Storyteller: Alysha Dominico. Hometown: Bancroft, ON
As a citizen of both Australia and Canada, Alysha is an extensive traveller of both countries and their surrounds. She lives and works on a lake in Ontario’s Highlands and spends her non-working hours romping around experiencing family-friendly activities with her kids.