Canada isn't exactly the first country that comes to mind when you think about electronic music. House and techno were invented in The States but now, for all intents and purposes, live in Europe. EDM took over the airwaves around the world but is most closely associated with The Netherlands and, again, The States.
That being said, like all things Canadian, just because the country's dance music scene doesn't shout the loudest doesn't mean it isn't alive and well. To prove the point here are our picks for the best electronic music festivals in the Great White North.
Shambhala Music Festival
Festival Lineup (2019): Chase & Status, Bonobo, GRiZ, Zeds Dead, Kaskade, Silk City (Diplo + Mark Ronson)
One of the largest and longest running electronic music festivals in all of Canada, Shambhala is more focused on the underground than a lot of its contemporaries. Unencumbered by genre, the lineup ranges from house and techno to glitch, dubstep, drum & bass, hip-hop and experimental electronica.
Add that to the beautiful rural setting, left-field production, art installations, themed camps and a programme of workshops and the result is a festival unlike many others.
When & where: 24-27 July 2020, Salmo, British Columbia
Shambhala Music Festival Guide & Mailing List
Festival Lineup (2019): Octave One, Blawan, Matmos, Project Pablo, GAIKA, Nicola Cruz, Jlin
Without doubt the most experimental electronic music festival in Canada. As well as showcasing digital art, MUTEK hosts a lineup of the scene's boundary-pushers, representatives of diverse club music from around the world, and a helping of the underground's favourites playing the best in house and techno.
When & where: 26-30 August 2020, Montreal, Quebec
MUTEK Montreal Guide & Mailing List
Bass Coast Music and Arts Festival
Festival Lineup (2019): Nightmare on Wax, Denis Sulta, Sticky Buds, SkiiTour, Alix Perez, Yheti, Righteous Rainbows of Togetherness
With more of a focus on the underground than its fellow BC compatriot Shambhala, Bass Coast is an artist owned and operated boutique festival that has been curating some of the best dance music lineups in the country since it was founded in 2009. The festival does a good job bringing its scenic site just outside of the city of Merritt into its unforgettable experience.
When & where: 10-13 July 2020, Merritt, British Columbia
Veld Music Festival
Festival Lineup (2019): Tiësto, Skrillex, Kygo, Cardi B, Alesso, Kodak Black, Zeds Dead
Toronto's premier EDM festival, Veld has been holding down the summer in the city's Downsview Park for eight years. Attracting tens of thousands of fans each year, the festival has evolved to include more hip hop acts over the last few years, but remains firmly anchored in dance music, staging performances by the biggest DJs in the world year after year.
When & where: TBA August 2020, Toronto, Ontario
Festival Lineup: Nina Kraviz, ANNA, Charlotte de Witte, The Blaze, Robert Hood, Zeds Dead, Rüfüs Du Sol
That Igloofest has grown into one of the country's most beloved electronic music festivals is a testament to how good it actually is. I don't know whose idea it was to put a festival outside in the middle of winter in Montreal, but somehow the frosty weather only amplifies how great the lineup curation, immersive stage production and party atmosphere really are.
When & where: 16 January - 8 February 2020, Montreal, Quebec
AIM Electronic Music Festival
Festival Lineup (2019): John Digweed, Danny Tenaglia, Markus Schulz, Getter, ANNA, Pig&Dan, Mikey Lion & Lee Reynolds
AIM stands for Art - Innovation - Movement, which paints a pretty accurate image of what the festival is all about. This means the festival is very much an art first experience, mixing together established genre leaders with up-and-coming and cutting edge acts. Multi-media, multi-sensory art from local and international artists abound as AIM makes full use of being the only festival in Canada with a license to play music for over 32 straight hours.
When & where: TBA July 2020, Montreal, Quebec
Escapade Music Festival
Festival Lineup: Martin Garrix, The Chainsmokers, Illenium, Kaskade, Andrew Rayel, CamelPhat, Chris Lake
The nation's capital's biggest dance music festival, Escapade has everything you need for an unforgettable experience: the biggest names in EDM, trance and dubstep and beyond, booming sound systems, immersive stage production, pyrotechnics, and tens of thousands of amped-up fans.
When & where: 20-21 June 2020, Ottawa, Ontario
Escapade 2020 Guide / Book Escapade 2020 tickets, packages and accommodation
Contact Winter Music Festival
Festival Lineup: Major Lazer, Tiësto, Kaskade, Rezz, San Holo, Fisher, Feed Me
Contact is Vancouver's premier EDM festival, annually going down in that sweet week between Christmas and New Years. Set in BC Place, the festival transforms the largest indoor venue in western Canada into a massive club with all the bells and whistles to give you a surreal experience.
When & where: 27-28 December 2019, Vancouver, British Columbia
Chasing Summer Music Festival
Festival Lineup (2019): The Chainsmokers, Above & Beyond, Steve Aoki, Alesso, W&W, KSHMR, Slushii
Few cities in the world experience a longer winter than Calgary. The sense of having to take advantage of summer while you have it is what inspired Chasing Summer Music Festival. Dating back to 2013, the festival has since grown into Western Canada's biggest EDM festival, bringing the biggest DJs in the world to the Max Bell Centre Festival Grounds for two days every August.
When & where: TBA August 2020, Calgary, Alberta
Festival Lineup (2019): Marshmello, Above & Beyond, Kaskade, Bad Bunny, Alesso, Excision, Alan Walker
The rivalry between Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver for Canadian city dominance is real, but with all due respect, Montreal easily has the best electronic music scene in the country. îleSoniq is the French city's fourth entry on this list, and there could have been more.
This is the city's biggest dance music festival, hosting performances from top tier talent across EDM and urban genres. The îleSoniq experience is huge names, party atmosphere, exotic decor and surreal stage production. EDM fans in Canada can't miss this one.
When & where: 7-8 August 2020, Montreal, Quebec