Summer in Sudbury, Ontario has always been synonymous with world-class outdoor recreation in the form of camping, fishing, hiking, swimming, sports, and everything else one longs for in the warmer months.
Over recent years Sudbury has been branching out and earning a new reputation as the destination for eclectic summer festivals. From food, to music, to film, to art, to geek culture — there’s plenty for everyone here in the heart of Northern Ontario.
In this article we’ll highlight the top 10 summer festivals that we recommend checking out this year. These are ranked in chronological order, not necessarily in order of popularity. You’ll notice that none of them overlap with each other; so, in theory, you’ll be able to attend them all!
Where: Sudbury Arena
When: June 9th
Graphic-Con is a fledgling comic convention that is growing every year. Writers, artists, and unique vendors from around Ontario fill the Sudbury arena amongst costume-clad attendees. At Graphic-Con you can interact with writers, purchase one-of-a-kind art pieces, or score some rare collectibles. It’s also a great place to meet people who share similar interests and possibly make new friends.
Where: Bell Park
When: June 15 – 17
The first annual Feast Fest took place last year, and it was such a success that, not only is it coming back, it has been expanded from a one-day event to a three-day event. As the name suggests, Feast Fest is a celebration of great food and refreshing beverages, with a backdrop of live music to keep the festivities going well into the evening. The event is all ages during the day, and 19+ after 8pm.
Northern Lights Festival Boréal
Where: Bell Park
When: July 5-8
Northern Lights Festival Boréal (NFLB) is Sudbury’s longest-running summer festival, having been held every year since it was founded in 1972. Its staying power is a testament to the festival’s ability to evolve with the times and entertain audiences year after year. NFLB’s lineup consists of the hottest acts in folk, blues, and indie rock from across Canada. The festival also includes many can’t-miss vendors, as well as midway rides for the kids.
Dragon Boat Festival
Where: Bell Park
When: July 14
Sudbury’s Dragon Boat Festival celebrates an ancient Chinese tradition while raising money for local charities. Teams of 10 can register to race, and money is raised through sponsorships and donations. The public is encouraged to attend and cheer on the teams, as well as enjoy the family-friendly activities going on throughout Bell Park during the day. This year the event will be raising money for an expansion of Maison de McCullogh, a community hospice care facility.
Up Here: Urban Art & Music Festival
Where: Multiple venues
When: August 17-19
Up Here is a festival that leaves a lasting impression on the city city. Quite literally, in fact, as the murals you see downtown are courtesy of the artists brought in for the festival. Now in its 4th year, Up Here features a lineup of independent artists and musicians who bring the city together in ways that no other festival has before. Want to see what makes the Sudbury community so unique? Attend this festival.
When: August 24-26
For a city with arguably the most poutine per capita, can you believe this is only the second annual festival dedicated to Canada’s finest export? Think’ Rib Fest,’ but replace the BBQs with deep fryers and a whole lot of potatoes. Add in a full selection of desserts, a smattering of live entertainment, and you have yourself another festival-filled weekend in the heart of downtown Sudbury.
When: August 31 – September 3
Rib Fest has been held on Labour Day weekend every year for the past 10 years. Rib Fest is an end-of-summer party that the whole city is invited to. BBQ chefs from all over Ontario gather to compete at what they do best. It’s a weekend-long festival, so pace yourself and leave room for seconds.
Jazz Sudbury Festival
Where: Multiple Venues
When: September 5-9
Jazz Sudbury Festival is one of the top music events in Northern Ontario. It has earned accolades such as best new festival (in 2012), and has been recognized as one of the top 100 festivals in all of Ontario. This festival aims to enrich the community’s arts sector, as well as showcase up and coming performers from around the area.
New Music Fest
Where: Bell Park
When: September 14-15
New Music Fest (NMF) is the final opportunity for Sudburians to enjoy live music outdoors during the summer months. Separated into two days, NMF offers both a rock and country night to please a majority of music lovers. This festival has been known to sell out, so take our advice and don’t wait until the last minute to buy tickets.
Where: Cineplex SilverCity
When: September 15-23
Although Cinefest takes place in mid-September, it still technically falls within Summer. Besides, this is a festival worth highlighting, because there’s nothing else like it in Northern Ontario. Cinefest is a breath of fresh air for true film buffs. For many, this may be the only opportunity to see your next favourite film on the big screen, as most titles never see a wide release. Curators fill up the screens with buzz-worthy flicks from TIFF, Cannes, Sundance, and other film festivals around the world. It also features the premieres of short and feature-length films shot right here in Sudbury.
There you have it – another summer packed full of festival fun in Sudbury, Ontario. Pick your favorites, or sample each one, the choice is up to you. Did we miss any that you think should’ve been added to the list? If so, leave a comment to help others out!