B.C. festivals offer beats without breaking the bank

If you love music festivals but you’re not feeling the massive lineups, crowded stages, or hefty ticket prices of popular events like Coachella, Sasquatch, and Shambhala Music Festival you’re in for a treat this summer. B.C.’s music festival scene is expanding to offer music lovers a host of small festivals with big personalities.

While big headliners are arguably the reason people attend most festivals, smaller festivals often have a more laid-back atmosphere, more space for dancing and chilling, and offer better views of the artists without the sardine-effect of some music audiences. If you’re looking for something different to try out this summer, look into these five B.C. music festivals.

Welcome in summer on Vancouver Island at Tall Tree Music Festival, June 21 to 23. Held just outside Port Renfrew, at Browns Mountain, Tall Tree showcases live talent from genres including surf and folk rock, and electronic dance music. The ocean views and old-growth forest setting are draw enough, though the remote location also makes for a somewhat primitive festival—bring cash with you because there’s no ATM on-site.

Acts for Tall Tree 2012 haven’t been released yet, but previous artists have included Jets Overhead, Neon Steve, and LongWalkShortDock.

Another excellent festival in June is The Groove Music Festival, June 22 to 25, at the GT Paradize Adventure Ranch in Midway, B.C. According to organizer Jon Larson, the festival was created in honour of his friend, Casey Crawford, who passed away in 2009. Larson aims to continue showcasing only Canadian music talent as the festival continues to grow—this year’s docket includes electronic dance music artists Freddy J, Yan Zombie, Bryx, and Deeps.

Back on the Island, another great festival, held July 20 to 22, is the Kulth Music Festival in Coombs, B.C. This folk fest with an edge, as its name implies—Kulth is short for Kulth-Ka-Choolth, meaning jagged face—is a film festival and music festival combined. Feature films A Small Act and Sunflower Hour will be screened throughout the day and night, followed by musical acts like The Boom Booms and Georgia Murray. The electronic music stage has yet to announce confirmed artists.

If you love the atmosphere of “hippie fests” like Shambhala Music Festival, but want something smaller and more intimate check out Bass Coast, in Squamish August 3 to 6. This riverside festival is capped at 3,000 attendees, and is a weekend exhibition of the arts, dance, and yoga. Although the 2012 lineup hasn’t been released, previous artists like Dub FX, Erica Dee, Kyrian, and EPROM, shows that this festival is well worth the ticket price.

There’s also a new festival popping up on the west coast this year: Wanderlust.

This yoga-music festival is taking place in Whistler August 23 to 26 and is featuring celebrity yogis like Baron Baptise and Eoin Finn, and excellent musical acts like Michael Franti and Thievery Corporation. While this is Wanderlust’s first year in Whistler, the production company, part of the group that organizes Austin City Limits and Lollapalooza, has a proven track record of producing great events.

These music festivals are among the many popping up all over B.C. With so much great local talent, and so many ambitious event organizers targeting B.C.’s picturesque potential festival venues, there’s no need to travel long miles and spend loads of cash on massive festivals where time is often wasted waiting in line, and trying to get a better vantage point of the stage.

Tall Tree Music Festival
June 21 to 23
Browns Mountain,
Port Renfrew, B.C.
$129 advance purchase;
$159 at gate

The Groove Music Festival
June 22 to 25
GT Paradize Adventure Ranch, Midway, B.C.
$50 – $60 advance purchase;
$75 at gate;
$100 and up: VIP packages

Kulth Music Festival
July 20 to 22
Coombs Rodeo Grounds
Coombs, B.C.
Prices not yet available

Bass Coast Project
August 3 to 6
Squamish, B.C.
$195 advance purchase;
$220 at gate

August 23 to 26
Whistler, B.C.
$99 to $475 USD




  1. How can you call Shambhala “expensive” when Wanderlust tickets are “$99-$475”?

    The highest tier of Shambhala tickets were $280+tax & s/h… coming out to $325.90 total.

  2. Have you been to Shambhala?  Sure its gotten more popular over the years and attracts more people, but I don’t think its appropriate to trash talk them and compare them to Coachella. 

    Most all of the international artists you are using to promote other festivals play at Shambs (and probably can afford to tour to BC and play smaller festivals because they get a booking at shambs), and then many of the local artists you mention got their start playing at Shambhala. 

    could go to all of those other festivals to see all of those artists
    over the course of the summer, or you could go to shambs and see them
    all in one weekend.

  3. Shambhala is one of a kind. Prices may be increasing but so is the production quality and overall surreality of the festival. Nowhere else on EARTH will you get the same experience, and I say with 100% confidence that it’s worth more than every penny. 

  4. i’ve been going to shambhala for about 9 years now and i feel free to say that smaller festivals is where is at, the vibe is lighter, more room to dance, easier to meet cool people, shambhala used to be like this back in the day, now is this huge scary monster, yeah the production and stages are epic but the crowds are massive, you spend almost 50% of your experience standing in a lineup, i’ve seen fights at shambs and now you get all the city thugs and guidos that go to this places to ” get it on with hippie chicks “, i will never attend shambs again, that been said, a word of advice for all people interested or curious about an uplifting and fulfillin festivals experience GO TO SMALLER FESTIVALS !!, the groove music festival in rock creeck is highly recomended, whent there last year and had one of the best times of my life!, cheers

  5. I would have to agree with the others in this thread, The Groove is awesome, sure it may not be big, it may not have all the amenities at the moment, but one thing this event has is “Good Vibes” the property where the groove is hosted is a magical place in it’s self…..I myself can’t wait till my feet touch the soil of GT Ranch…..Oh and did I mention the production value at the groove is more or less like being at a concert and or mini sham. I only paid $20 for ticket last year and it went on for 2 days and they had FILTHY REHAB COME IN FROM UNITED KINGDOM!!!!! That’s the best $20 I have ever spent in my life. See all you amazing people at the groove!!!

  6. Shambhala is a huge, scary monster? 10,000 people is hardly big. Big for here, certainly. 

    >> i’ve seen fights at shambs and now you get all the city thugs and guidos that go to this places to ” get it on with hippie chicks “, <<

    I don't know what Shambhala you went to, but I've never seen a fight in 10 years, and I've not seen the "guidos & thugs" you speak of either.

    Just beautiful people, freely expressing themselves.

    Shambhala has done a great job of fostering a culture of openness and creativity. Sure, not everyone you meet is going to be amazing. But the majority are.

    Smaller fests are great too. Love them. But as far as a balance of cutting edge technology, lovely people, and incredible art goes – Shambhala has it all.

  7. Don’t miss the 9th annual ArtsWells Festival August 3 – 6 http://www.artswells.com only 1500 tickets available. Here is the breakdown.

    over 100 musical acts, and 50 workshops, on 9 unique stages, over 4 action packed days, in 2 Historic Towns, equals 1 incredible experience 

    Tickets and info 1-800-442-2787 or at http://www.artswells.com

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