Canadian Music Festivals in the Maritimes

We’re turning the volume up to eleven on the best Canadian music festivals taking place right here in the Maritimes!

Music is in our DNA here in the Maritimes. Whether it’s a ceilidh in Cape Breton, live music in Halifax, Saint John, and Charlottetown, or bringing the guitar to the next kitchen party—Maritimers and music go hand in hand. If your upcoming East Coast trip requires more than just a great East Coast playlist, you’re in luck! Many Canadian music festivals take place in the Maritimes every year, and with artists from every era and style touring through the region, you’re sure to find a show that will have you dancing and singing along.

Festival of Small Halls – June 10-23, 2018

Kick off your summer (and festival season) with two weeks of intimate performances at the PEI Festival of Small Halls. As the name suggests, this festival takes place in small venues across Prince Edward Island, showcasing local and international talent for locals and tourists alike. Celebrating ten years of magic this summer, the Festival of Small Halls holds a special place in the hearts of music fans on the Island. During the festival, concertgoers will have the honour of seeing more than 50 performances in over 40 community halls. Each performance is full of fantastic music and storytelling, leaving anyone who is lucky enough to attend with a sense that they won’t see concerts quite like these anywhere else.

NFL Bay Ferries has been proud to sponsor the Festival of Small Halls for the last number of years. We’re especially excited this year, as we’ll be kicking off the festival on June 8th with the Floating Small Hall concert! We’ll be sharing more information about the Floating Small Hall soon, so be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to learn more.

Cavendish Beach Music Festival – July 6-9, 2018

Get your boots shined up, put on your favourite denim and plaid, and don’t forget your cowboy hat when you make your way to the Cavendish Beach Music Festival! Celebrating its 10th anniversary this summer, the Cavendish Beach Music Festival is beloved by country music fans across the region for its awesome lineup and good-time atmosphere. This year, top stars such as Luke Bryan and Brett Eldredge will be taking the stage, as well Meghan Patrick, The Road Hammers, and more! In fact, this festival is so popular that the organizers have added an extra day of fun and music!

If the Cavendish Beach music festival is in your plans, be sure to make your long weekend on PEI one to remember with a trip on the mv Confederation or mv Holiday Island. Not only are these ferries a time-honoured summer tradition, they also often feature live music thanks to the Music on Deck series—so you can add even more great tunes to your festival weekend!

TD Halifax Jazz Festival – July 11-15, 2018

If you’re not ready for the music to end after the Cavendish Beach Festival, make your way to Nova Scotia for an encore with the TD Halifax Jazz Festival. Much like jazz music, the lineup for this festival is eclectic (not to mention electric!). This year’s headliners include indie Americana rockers The War on Drugs, soul singer-songwriter Daniel Caesar, and R&B rising star Charlotte Day Wilson. The festival also offers innovative workshops for children interested in music, as well as many performances by many legends of jazz, including Kirk MacDonald and the Harold Mabern Duo. Best of all, The TD Halifax Jazz Fest takes place on the beautiful Halifax Waterfront, meaning you’re never far from that familiar saltwater breeze you felt while travelling on the NFL/BFL Ferries.

Area 506 Festival – August 4-5, 2018

A relatively young Canadian music festival, Area 506 is returning for its third year in August. Known for bringing together the best of New Brunswick culture, music, and food, Area 506 offers attendees a weekend to remember. While the 2018 lineup is yet to be announced, previous years have seen diverse performers known for their impressive live shows, including Grace Potter, Big Sugar, Tegan & Sara, Matt Mays, Stars, and more! Be sure to make your way to Saint John this summer aboard the mv Fundy Rose for a rocking weekend at Area 506!

Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival – September 11-16, 2018

Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival in Fredericton, New Brunswick boasts over 400 musicians performing on 27 different stages over six exciting days. With that many performers, you can rest assured that you’ll find something to love in historic downtown Fredericton. In addition to the main stages, the Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival is also known for its numerous free stages, where you can check out incredible emerging talent (and maybe discover your new favourite band!). The Harvest Jazz & Blues fest prides itself on the diversity of its performers. At one stage, you might hear classic smooth jazz, while at the next venue you could find anything from funk to roots rock or hip-hop. And while you’re sure to hear the blues during this festival, you definitely won’t have the blues!

Celtic Colours – October 5-13, 2018

If you’re looking for a Canadian music festival that captures the authentic East Coast experience, you’ll want to make your way to Cape Breton for Celtic Colours. Taking place over nine days in October as the leaves change and paint the landscape in a rich tapestry, Celtic Colours celebrates the culture of the region with song, food, and fun. If you’ve ever wanted to experience an authentic ceilidh, dance an Irish jig at an old-fashioned kitchen party, and partake in a community supper with musical accompaniment, this is the festival for you! It’s common to hear people say that “To experience Celtic Colours is to be changed by it.” We couldn’t agree more. Pair your visit with a drive around the Cabot Trail for a fall adventure you’ll fondly remember forever.

Halifax Pop Explosion – October 17-20, 2018

For over 25 years, the Halifax Pop Explosion has been beloved by Canadian music festival attendees, and it’s easy to see why. Halifax Pop Explosion is a festival where you’ll often have an opportunity to see “The Next Big Things” performing at intimate venues around the city (just ask music fans who saw a young, unknown Arcade Fire in 2004). Known for presenting new and innovative artists from across the country and around the world, the Halifax Pop Explosion is eagerly anticipated every fall and leaves a lasting impression on every attendee. Whether you check out a single show or spend four days hopping between venues with friends, you’re sure to see a show that will result in a great “I saw them before they were famous” story to tell for years to come.

Are you ready to head out on your East Coast tour to check out some of the best Canadian music festivals there are? Don’t forget to include an unforgettable voyage on The CAT, the mv Fundy Rose, and the mv Confederation or mv Holiday Island. To learn more about other fantastic festivals and things to do here on Canada’s East Coast, check out Explore the Maritimes today.

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