Over 135,000 fans can’t be wrong. The Osheaga Music and Arts Festival attracts about 100 artists and massive crowds to Montreal each summer. With its ability to draw major headliners and its pristine setting at Parc Jean-Drapeau, the festival offers attendees an ideal summer concert experience. Starting in 2006 as a two-day affair over Labour Day weekend, the festival moved to the August long weekend in 2008 and expanded to three days in 2011 to maximize the celebrations.
In Osheaga's early years, the event featured prominent guitar bands and alt-rock heroes such as Sonic Youth, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Metric, while a few dance and hip-hop artists rounded out the lineup. Over time, Osheaga has diversified things considerably, adding electronic acts such as Four Tet and Jon Hopkins, left-field pop performers like FKA twigs and rappers such as Kendrick Lamar and Childish Gambino at subsequent editions. Through it all, the festival has represented Canadian artists, from breakouts such as Mac DeMarco, Ryan Hemsworth, Grimes and Kaytranada to emerging talent like Royal Canoe, Elephant Stone and Safia Nolin. The breadth and range of its lineup has proven attractive to music fans, with over 70 per cent of attendees travelling to Montreal from outside the province.
Its setting is part of this draw, taking place on Île Ste-Hélène (the festival moved to neighbouring Île Notre-Dame for 2017 and 2018 while Île Ste-Hélène underwent construction), separated from the city by the Saint Lawrence River. The Parc Jean-Drapeau grounds, its green space and forests bring a natural vibe to the festival — stages are integrated with the landscape, resulting in memorable spaces such as the Tree Stage, where a forest surrounds performers. The great outdoors make Osheaga a hotspot for festival fashions, and organizers have made socially conscious decisions that include banning appropriative headdresses in 2015. The festival also holds a series of concerts at venues throughout Montreal in the months leading up to the festival, with past acts including Courtney Barnett, Braids, Of Montreal and more. With the sheer breadth of its lineup, Osheaga has proven to be a dominant summer festival.