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A guide to the summer’s must-attend music festivals

Current Obsession: Travelling Road Shows

(Photographs: Cockburn courtesy of Huntsville Festival of the Arts; Fucked Up by Daniel Boud; Sinclaire and Mumford & Sons courtesy of Universal Music Canada)

Huntsville Festival of the Arts
July 4 to August 28, Huntsville

In a nutshell: Roots music meets Roots clothing.

The highlights: The indie-country duo Whitehorse, the fiddle superstar Natalie MacMaster, a two-night stand from the unerringly earnest Bruce Cockburn and The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, which backed Dr. John and the Black Keys at last year’s Grammys. The festival also recently started a cottage-country version of Nuit Blanche full of kooky-cool art installations and street theatre.

Who goes: Folkie moms and dads in Tilley hats and cottagers bored of playing Yahtzee.

Where to sleep: Deerhurst Resort, which scored a $2-million reno for the infamous 2010 G8 summit, has three luxe restau­rants and top-notch facilities.


Hillside Festival
July 26 to 28, Guelph

In a nutshell: Ontario’s answer to Bonnaroo.

The highlights: Indie balladeers Martha Wainwright, Bonnie “Prince” Billy and Hayden, noisemaking critical darlings Fucked Up and Metz, Toronto twang heroes The Sadies and gender-bending synth-popper Diamond Rings. For between-show noshing, the site is packed with local vendors offering wood-fired pizzas, Indian tacos, corn on the cob and organic ice cream.

Who goes: Dreadlocked 20-somethings and Pitchfork-reading 30-somethings.

Where to sleep: Most Hill­siders camp or stay at a chain hotel, but in Fergus, just north of Guelph, the Brew House runs a micro-B&B out of a 160-year-old former mill.


Festival of the Sound
July 18 to August 11, Parry Sound

In a nutshell: Chamber music–palooza on Georgian Bay.

The highlights: Performances by the Gryphon Trio, the Cecilia String Quartet, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and the Art of Time Ensemble’s Andrew Burashko. There are also talks, recitals, opera (by the Toronto Masque Theatre), a Viennese masked ball and musical cruises—one focused on klezmer; one on mariachi and one on jazz, with singer Denzal Sinclaire, a smoothie in the Nat King Cole mould.

Who goes: TSO subscribers and Koerner Hall habitués in need of a summer fix.

Where to sleep: Glenn Burney Lodge, just outside Parry Sound, hits the sweet spot between chi-chi resort and rough-it rustic, with rooms and private cottages.


Gentlemen of the Road
August 23 and 24, Simcoe

In a nutshell: Mumford & Sons do Norfolk County.

The highlights: The British folk superstars bring a two-night-only revival-style show to Simcoe. Joining the Sons are L.A.’s neo-psychedelic Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Vancouver troubadour Dan Mangan and Hey Rosetta!, who’ve been doing the ol’ timey stomp-along thing for nearly a decade. For the merely banjo-curious, there’s also a farmers’ market, a roller rink and a street fair.

Who goes: Anyone with the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack in their playlists.

Where to sleep: The wilderness suites at Long Point Eco-Adventures in nearby Turkey Point have safari-style canvas tents with king-size beds and hardwood floors.