Wayhome - The Details

When: July 28-30
Where: Burl’s Creek Event Grounds, Oro-Medonte, Ont.
How Much: $250

Getting There

Oro-Medonte is just over a two hours’ drive from Toronto. The festival’s hotel and admission ticket package includes shuttle service between Horseshoe Resort in Barrie and the festival grounds, and several companies offer private shuttle buses from Toronto.

For more information, visit wayhome.com


The scene

Heading into its third year, WayHome is well on its way toward establishing itself as our own north-of-the-border Coachella with its strong music lineups, excellent production value and chill vibes. This year’s headliners include Frank Ocean, the Shins, Constantines and Flume. Add in some cool art installations, plus great nosh, and this festival is a full-on experience for the senses.


Last year, the Food Dudes brought their famous deep-fried mac and cheese balls with spicy tomato sauce to the WayHome festival.

Early 20-somethings make up much of the crowd, but the festival’s friendly, relaxed atmosphere ensures that attendees who don’t fit the standard profile aren’t likely to feel out of place. Camping on-site is a popular choice, and you can even book a pre-pitched tent (just in case you like the idea of camping but have no clue what you’re doing).

The food and drink

WayHome’s food lineup is practically a mini-event on its own, with the last two years seeing well-known Toronto names like Chimney Stax Baking Co. and Rose and Sons serving up creative takes on traditional festival fare. This year’s roster of around 50 vendors features many returning faves, including Buster’s Sea Cove and JP’s Barbecue. According to the festival’s creative director, Ryan Howes, there will be a greater variety of vegetarian and vegan options this year, along with more late-night snack choices. It might even be enough to make you ditch your pre-packed sandwich.

Hillside - The Details

When: July 14-16
Where: Guelph Lake Conservation Area
How Much: $139

Getting There

Guelph Lake Conservation Area is about a two-hour drive from Toronto. The festival is offering shuttle bus service to and from Toronto for $20 round-trip, leaving from Dufferin Mall on Friday afternoon and returning Monday morning.

For more information, visit hillsidefestival.ca


The scene

With its intimate, eco-conscious vibes, Hillside channels the earthy, peaceful feel of old school music festivals. Although unlike, say, Woodstock, Hillside is kid-friendly, attracting a good-natured mix of bohemians, hipsters, families and long-time devotees.

Hillside has a reputation for showcasing some of Canada’s top up-and-coming performers, with this year’s line-up including Charlotte Day Wilson, Coeur de Pirate and Begonia. Hosted at the Guelph Lake Conservation area, Hillside’s attention to eco-friendly initiatives sets it apart from other camp-out music fests. Organized shuttle buses and bike rides encourage attendees to carpool or cycle to the festival, while the main stage has a green roof designed to compensate for the natural space it occupies.

The food and drink

Hillside Festival

Chocolate purveyor ChocoSol will be serving coffee ground on-site by pedal power. 

Hillside’s food choices show some serious sophistication. Over 20 vendors from across southern Ontario will be serving up cuisines ranging from Polish to Ethiopian. Expect plenty of options for special diets, including ethical omnivore eats, raw foods and vegan dishes. True to its green leanings, Hillside also replaces the standard plastic cutlery and Styrofoam plates with reusable dishware, which will be washed and restocked by volunteers throughout the weekend.

Food highlights include the Flying Chestnut Kitchen – an Ojibwa restaurant that will be offering chili served on bannock – and Wafel Bar, which will be putting out crispy Belgian waffles with spiced maple syrup.

Ontario’s craft beers are well represented, with Four Fathers, Collective Arts and Wellington Brewery among the choices on tap. There will be lots of non-boozy beverages as well, including milkshakes, teas and smoothies. ChocoSol will also be serving coffee made from beans ground on-site by pedal power, along with hot and cold chocolate-based beverages.

Boots and Hearts - The Details

When: August 10-13
Where: Burl’s Creek Event Grounds, Oro-Medonte, Ont.
How Much: $250

Getting There

Oro-Medonte is just over two hours from Toronto. The festival’s hotel and admission ticket package includes shuttle service between Horseshoe Resort in Barrie and the festival grounds, and several companies offer shuttle buses from Toronto.

For more information, visit bootsandhearts.com


The scene

Now in its fifth year, Boots and Hearts is the largest country music festival in Canada. Think of it as country music’s answer to WayHome – it’s even held on the same site and organized by the same team.

Boots and Hearts

Hank Daddy's BBQ makes regular appearances at Boots and Hearts.

Country music fans tend to come in a wide range of ages, and the crowd at Boots and Hearts is no exception. Headliners at this year’s festival include Luke Bryan and Keith Urban, along with numerous Canadian country performers such as Jess Moskaluke and Chad Brownlee. As with WayHome, camping is a big part of the experience for many attendees, but in addition to tent camping, there are also options to upgrade to an RV or stay in a nearby hotel.

The food and drink

Boots and Hearts leans toward the more traditional end of the festival fare spectrum, with its vendors providing mostly quick, approachable eats. The food truck roster is usually extensive: last year’s participants included Hank Daddy’s BBQ and Chachachurros. This year, Gangster Cheese will be serving up ooey-gooey grilled cheese sandwiches, while Gourmet Gringos will provide Mexican grub like burritos and tacos.

A Canadian festival classic, BeaverTails, will be churning out its sugar-covered ovals of fried dough, and we have been assured that bloomin’ onions will be prevalent. The drink options are shaping up to be equally accessible, with Coors Light leading the roster of vendors, plus plenty of stalls doling out coffee to fuel the festivities. There will be a handful of lighter options as well, but indulgence seems to be the name of the game with this food lineup.

The Big Feastival - The Details

When: August 18-20
Where: Burl’s Creek Event Grounds, Oro-Medonte, Ont.
How Much: $175

Getting There

Oro-Medonte is about a two-and-a-half hour drive from Toronto, between Orillia and Barrie. Sharethebus offers round-trip transportation from Toronto, with two buses departing from the Rogers Centre each day of the festival.

For more information, visit canada.thebigfeastival.com


The scene

The Big Feastival nabs the title of this summer’s most wholesome music festival, offering both family-friendly fun and healthy eats. Originally launched in the U.K. by Jamie Oliver, the festival’s theme will come as no surprise to those familiar with Oliver’s advocacy for farm-to-fork fare.

You won't find any pre-made food on the festival grounds

Food and music share the spotlight at this event, with bands such as Weezer, Dragonette and Ben Harper starring on the main music stage and celebrity chefs like Michael Hunter and Rob Gentile headlining the main food stage. With kiddie entertainers like Fred Penner and Splash’N Boots also on the roster, expect to see lots of parents with little ones rather than the usual festival crowd.

The food and drink

The food lineup is all about good-for-you eats, with the promise that you won’t spot a pre-made morsel or sugary snack on the festival grounds. Participating food trucks and stalls have been chosen based on their commitment to organic, locally sourced ingredients and, in keeping with the festival’s family-friendly mandate, they will also be serving up kid-sized portions of their dishes.

The Big Feastival

The Big Feastival's food purveyors will be wide-ranging, from celeb chefs to small vendors.

The parade of vendors marches on with the drink lineup, which includes such wineries as Rosehall Run and Jacob’s Creek, along with non-alcoholic thirst-quenchers like Green Machine Smoothies from Hamilton and Just Craft Soda from St. Catharines. If you’re feeling fancy, Kinsip House of Fine Spirits will be making hand- crafted cocktails on-site. The beer branches beyond provincial boundaries with options such as Belgian Moon.

But eating at this festival goes beyond just stuffing your face. Chuck Hughes is leading a pack of notable chefs slated to perform cooking demos, and there will also be a market where you can pick up take-home nibbles such as honey, fudge and jam (again, all organic and local).