5 fabulous music festivals that will make your summer sing

Don't finish your entertainment plans for the summer without consulting this handy guide to the top music festivals in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Sherman Downey and the Ambiguous Case will be appearing in August at the Writers at Woody Point festival. (Photo courtesy Tom Cochrane)

If you're a music lover on the island, allow me to plan the rest of your summer. 

There are countless festivals and celebrations throughout the province but I've found Five Fabulous Festivals that boast top musical acts, particularly for those of us who grew up in the late 1990s early 2000s. 

While there are lots of interesting and varied events at all of these festivals, we're taking a look at the music.You can catch some  fantastic acts in the province this summer, including The Wallflowers, Sloan and Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip. 

George Street Festival 

Jakob Dylan and the Wallflowers will headline the George Street Festival on July 31. (The Associated Press)

First up you can head down for a few drinks and a scoff at the George Street Festival kicking off on July 31 with The Wallflowers. [Fact: Did you know that Wallflowers frontman Jakob Dylan is Bob Dylan's son?] 

The festival runs through Aug. 5. This year's schedule: 

Thursday, July 31 - The Wallflowers

Friday, Aug. 1 - Dr. Hook (Farewell Tour)

Saturday, Aug. 2 - Lamb’s Kitchen Party featuring Shanneyganock

Sunday, Aug. 3 - Dropkick Murphys

Monday, Aug. 4 - Serena Ryder (with special guest The Heartbroken)

Tuesday, Aug. 5  - Alan Doyle Band 

Mussel Bed Soiree

After that why not drop out to Lewisporte for the Mussel Bed Soiree with festivities all week, and the big show on Saturday, Aug. 9, featuring Canadian rockers Our Lady Peace and Sloan, alongside country Canadian country star Brett Kissel and local favourites The Masterless Men and Celtic Connection. [Fact: Sloan were formed in 1991, and the band has remained the four original members throughout their 20-plus-year career.]

The soiree runs from Aug. 6, to Aug. 11. Gates for the Aug. 9 concert open at 2 p.m.  at Lewisporte's soccer pitch. 

Musical lineup: 

3:00 p.m. The Masterless Men

5:00 p.m. Brett Kissel

7:00 p.m. Sloan

9:00 p.m. Our Lady Peace

11:00 p.m. Celtic Connection    

Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival 

Gord Downie is a headliner at this year's Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival in Bowring Park in St. John's, and will also play at Writers at Woody Point. (Canadian Press)

One of the biggest festivals in the province, the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival kicks off its 38th year at Bowring Park again this year (and not the traditional Bannerman Park location, which is still under reconstruction). Check out the full (and extensive) lineup on the festival's website. [Fact: BasiaBulat is known for often performing with an autoharp.] 

You can check out Bulat here, sans autoharp, when HeavyWeather caught up with her at Cochrane Street United Church. 


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[Bonus fact: Tom Power, the host of CBC Radio 2 Morning and Deep Roots, and a member of The Dardanelles, turned 27 this year in the middle of the North Sea while on his way to the Shetland Folk Festival.]

The festival runs from Aug. 8 through Aug. 10. 

Friday, Aug. 8: Performers at tonight's session include Kat McLevey, Connemara, Matt Andersen and the Dardanelles. 

Saturday, Aug. 9: Performers through the day and night include Allan Ricketts and Mike Mutrey, Duane Andrews and Craig Young, A Crowd of Bold Sharemen, De Temps Antan and Gord Downie. 

Sunday, Aug. 10: Performers in afternoon and night sessions include City on the Coast, the Freels, Anita Best & Sandy Morris, Terry Kelly, Kevin Burke, the Burning Hell, Basia Bulat and the Masterless Men. The Ode to Newfoundland will be sung as the festival signoff, around 11:50 p.m. 

Writers at Woody Point

Lisa Moore, who published her most recent novel Caught last year, will be a featured reader at the Writers at Woody Point festival. (CBC)

The west coast is a great place to relax, visit scenic and serene Bonne Bay for some superb storytelling. The Writers at Woody Point Festival is a celebration of literature and music in Newfoundland and Labrador. The festival takes place in beautiful Bonne Bay in the heart of GrosMorne National Park, and features readings from many local and internationally recognized writers as well as stripped-down performances by musicians from near and far. [Fact: GordDownie played a cop in the Trailer Park Boys movie, The Big Dirty.

[Bonus fact: Weekend AM host Angela Antle will be hosting some of the events, as will annual festival host CBC Radio’s Shelagh Rogers, host of CBC Radio's The Next Chapter.]

For a complete schedule of of events between Aug. 12 and Aug. 17, visit the website

Featured writers this year are Alan Doyle, Amanda Boyden, Anthony De Sa, Camilla Gibb, Claire Wilkshire, Des Walsh, Joseph Boyden, Lisa Moore, Michael Crummey, Nicole Lundrigan and Stan Dragland. 

Musical performers this year include Gord Downey, the Dardanelles, the Blue Drop, Cajun Country Revival, Gros Morne Summer Music, Sandy Morris, Shane Murphy, Sherman Downey and the Ambiguous Case and Skydiggers. 

The Gathering

Sam Roberts will perform with his side project Minotaur at The Gathering in Burlington. (Patrick Doyle/Ottawa Bluesfest/Canadian Press)

If you've worked up an appetite while festival hopping, head to the The Gathering for a feed. The Gathering is a "feast-ival", taking place in Burlington and featuring world-class chefs, and top-notch musicians, founded by the one and only Shaun Majumder

[Fact: Minotaur, one of the acts booked for the event, is actually Sam Roberts! He and bandmate Dave Nugent play stripped-down sets of the band's tunes. 

The Gathering runs between Aug. 22 and Aug. 24. 

The exact schedule has yet to be released, but the lineup includes Minotaur, Sean McCann (formerly of Great Big Sea), Steve Poltz, Duane Andrews & Craig Young, Ashelin and Folk Of The Bay. For details, visit the website

About the Author

Alyson Samson

Alyson Samson is a journalist working with the CBC in Newfoundland and Labrador.