Archives: festivals

all the festivals

In the next week there are so many great festivals happening in and around the city. I want to go to all of them.

Here are a few of the must see and do’s if you’re sticking around Hamilton.


Hamilton World Music Festival

In its third year and back by popular demand the Hamilton World Music Festival is here this weekend!




Boasting past musical guests like Polaris Prize and Juno Award winner Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq, this year’s line-up features an excellent roster of International artists like Sérgio Pererê (from Brazil), and Zal Sissokho (from Senegal). Hamilton favourites like Mother Tareka (9-piece hip-hop funk band), Neeraj Prem (sitar), the Riddim Riders (reggae band), Bonnie Hamilton, and The Snow Beach Players (featuring #HamOnt mashup of local live hip-hop bands Canadian Winter, Haolin Munk & Kojo ‘Easy’ Damptey Band).

A song by Alysha Brilla, who’s song 2 Shots, I first heard on CBC Radio a while back. The chorus would get stuck in my head for days. She’s performing Saturday 8:30-9:30pm.

*Hamilton World Music Festival, July 15-17, Admission is Free, Gage Park, @matapaorg, Facebook


Strangewaves Music Festival

Strangewaves is a three-day festival in its second year for music, art, and film lovers alike.

The festival this year is at the Paris Fairgrounds, where you can camp all weekend and check out another amazing line-up of Hamilton musical musical outfits like: Simply Saucer (Proto Punk ), Thoughts on Air (soulscape), Goatfooted (dank ambience back from the grave), Zac Shaw (sax king), plus all sorts of indie acts hailing from LA to NYC, PLUS one of my ultimate faves Julie Doiron (OMG!), and DJ Rasta Princess (Montreal -reggae, reggae, reggae) -eeeep! Sounds like it’s going to be a fun little festival. AND, surprise guest yet to be announced for Saturday night -who could it be!?

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 1.06.44 PM

Tickets are available here, or at The Brain (199 James Street North, Hamilton).

*Strangewaves Music Festival, July 15-17, Paris Fairgrounds, @strangewavesfes, Facebook


Fringe Festival

The Hamilton Fringe Festival is celebrating its 13th year (#turning13)!

This year there are more than 48 theatre companies bringing to Hamilton a variety of comedy, drama, magic, dance, and family friendly entertainment in more than 300 performances over 11 days.

The amount of theatre that will be at our finger-tips during the next week is daunting (yet also awesome!).

If I had to pick just a handful of plays to see, these would be them:


El Diablo of the Cards (comedy): Be SURPRISED in the most HILARIOUS way! “El Diablo of the Cards” comes all the way from Brazil to bring you an UNFORGETTABLE night! Take your seat and get ready to laugh! Ewerton Martins will astound with his unbelievable improvised card magic. Really unreal, provocatively absurd, this delightful idiot will introduce you to the madness of card’s magic.



All KIDding Aside (comedy): Time is running out, a life altering decision teeters before you…and you’re on the fence! Sometimes the biggest fears can be the “little ones”




Key-Promo-Image-KairosThe Bathtub Girls (drama, physical theatre): The Bathtub Girls is an original play based on the first known case of sibling matricide in Canada, occurring in 2003, Mississauga, ON. The work has strong roots in contact improvisation and examines the desire for a sense of community and identity, and the actions taken for their acquisition.




Awoken (drama, sci fi): Meet Todd. Todd can’t sleep. But Todd is dreaming. Neither awake nor asleep, Todd must journey through his own corrupted subconscious – idle fantasies and suppressed memories – and discover his purpose, before choosing to wake up…or sleep forever. Inspired by a true story. All lighting controlled by the sole actor on stage.



Devil-in-the-DetailsDevil in the Details (comedy): Laura, after a freak photocopier accident, finds herself dead and the executive assistant to Satan himself. As she navigates her new boss and the inner workings of the seven circles, she finds that not everything is as it seems. Hell is losing souls, influence and power but no one knows why… Welcome to Hell.



*Hamilton Fringe Festival, July 14-24, @HamOntFringe, Facebook, #HamFringe


I will be updating my Facebook page regularly with various events going on in the city. Take a look at my event page for some great things coming up like Dusk Dances (Bayfront Park), Life of a Craphead: Bugs/ Zak Tatham: Doorcuts (summer film screening series at Hamilton Artist’s Inc.), and A Night in White (at Whitehern hosted by the Other Bird Chef Matt Kershaw) just to name a few. 

franco fest

Festival season is quickly approaching. If you are looking to get a little sample of some summer festival happenings in Hamilton this weekend, then you should check out FrancoFest.

FrancoFest is a free three day open-air festival at Gage Park. It is a family-friendly festival that celebrates the diversity of francophone culture through live music, dance, and visual art.

For the kids there’s: circus workshops, art exhibitions, painting, drumming, reptile demonstrations, maquillage, and roaming artists.

Franco Fest

Some of the performances this year include: Karim Ouellet and the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, the Hamilton Aerial Group, Lua Shayenne & Co and many more.

FrancoFest has been around in Hamilton for 35 years but it is still pretty low-key (in a good way). You won’t be pushing a stroller through throngs of dusty festival crowds or staking out seats with your lawn chairs to catch the performances. It’s a festival that you can enjoy at a leisurely pace; pack a blanket and some shade, sample some eats from the food trucks and take a wander through the vendors (all beautifully curated).

Mental Floss Sideshow Franco Fest Franco Fest Hamilton Aerial Group Franco Fest2

There’s something about arts, and culture that the French just do better.

This was a festival that I attended last year that I really enjoyed. The vibe was just right. With little to no expectations of what the festival entailed; we grabbed some food from the food trucks, listened to some gorgeous music, wandered around the kid’s art painting station, and got a feel for just how cool francophone culture really is. 

FrancoFest is free and takes places June 24, 25 and 26. Parking on-site is $10.

*FrancoFest, Facebook, Twitter, #FrancoFest


because beer

I know that summer is only half over but I can safely say that one of my favourite days of the summer so far was spent at Hamilton’s first outdoor craft beer festival Because Beer. It was put on by the kind folks from Sonic Unyon, who know how to throw some solid large scale events. They’ve had lots of experience, especially since they’re the ones who started my other favourite yearly MASSIVE Hamilton event; Supercrawl, as well as Seven Sundays; Gage Park’s weekly summer concert series. So it was really no surprise that the event was well thought out and executed to meet the needs of all those craft beer drinking enthusiasts.

On this July day the sun was hot, the air was dry and there was the most perfect summer breeze coming off the lake. Beers were flowing from over 25 craft beer micro-brewers and food trucks were serving up some mouth watering grub.

Twenty-five dollars got you into the event. The fee provided you with your own beer sampling mug and four beer tokens to get you going on your beer tasting. One token would get you half a glass of beer from any of the craft brewers (two for a full 1/2 pint). You could restock your token supply by purchasing additional tokens at a dollar a pop.

We set off to sample our first beer of the day from Waterloo brewery. I got the Grapefruit Radler which was so good it ended up also being my second beer of the day too. I’m not one to like beers that are too sweet and fruity but on this hot day the hints of grapefruit were so light and refreshing it totally hit the spot!

Because Beer sampling mug Because Beer Waterloo

I was happy to see The Salted Pig food truck – a truck I’d never sampled before. I got a little snack of Pigs in a Blanket; two deep-fried tortilla shells stuffed with pulled pork creamy horseradish sauce, bbq sauce and green onions. Perrrfect with a bitter beer!

Because Beer Salted Pig truck Because Beer Salted Pig

We found a piece of shade by the water and used our Beer Passports to plot out our route for future beer sampling. My one regret is that I didn’t get to the Wellington’s Farmer’s Market Rhubarb Saison before their tap ran dry. Clearly I didn’t plot my beer drinking route as well as I’d thought. As the day progressed you would hear a buzz about certain beers and breweries and we’d make our way over to try them out ourselves.Because Beer beer tents

Because Beer bar boys

Next up to sample was Flying Monkey’s Shoulders of Giants.

As evening was starting to fall we’d visited what felt like over a dozen craft breweries often returning to specific brews that tickled our tastebuds. I loved the Margaret Atwood from Beau’s Brewery, and I feel like there was a chocolate stout that I enjoyed somewhere along the way too, was it the Tom Green?

I wanted to sample Garden Brewer’s (rooted in Hamilton) Black Pepper Ale but it was sold out.

Because Beer Piperales

Because Beer Southern Smoke Poutine

Refuelling with a massive pulled pork poutine from Southern Smoke Truck.

Because Beer summer sky

Because Beer Descendants

My last beer sample of the day was from Descendants -Reynard the Fox and it just may have been my favourite of the day.

The Dinner Belles hit the stage and the beer festival was starting to come to a close. The sun was starting to set on a perfect blue summer sky, and the beer taps were starting to run dry.

Because Beer The Dinner Belles
Because Beer bayfront

The Because Beer festival in my mind was a huge success. People were civilized, the beer and musical acts were great, there were numerous options for seating and various lookouts to perch at to sip your beers AND the weather was just absolutely perfect.

At 8pm we were gently and promptly herded out of the beer grounds and people dispersed. By 8:20 everyone was gone. The grounds weren’t littered with plastic beer cups and garbage, there weren’t any fights or brawls, mostly just a lot of merry making craft beer lovers making their way home.

Because Beer is an annual two day event and I can’t wait to go again next year!

BUT if you missed out on this year’s festival and have a hankering for another this Friday and Saturday is another first for Hamilton’s Craft Beer Festival, which will be held at Gage Park. Tickets are $30, which includes five 5oz beer tickets and access to sample. Not to mention that all proceeds of the festival will go to seven Children’s Hospital Charities. There’ll be live Jazz music at the bandshell and of course food trucks.

AND that’s not even the last beer festival of the summer! On August 22nd and 23rd is Hamilton Beer Festival! Another two day beer festival on the roof top of Jackson Square. Oh my goodness! I love you Hamilton!!

*Because Beer, July 11-12, Pier 4, $25 +4 beer tokens & beer sampling mug, @BecauseBeerCA

*Hamilton Craft Beer Festival, August 1-2, Gage Park, $30 +5 beer tickets, all proceeds going to charity, @HamOntBeerFest

*Hamilton Beer Festival, August 22-23, Jackson Square Rooftop, $32.50 +3 beer tokens & beer sampling glass, @HamBeerFestival


new music expo

In the past few years it has become a bit of an informal tradition to head down to Gage Park for It’s Your Festival.

I love summer festivals. Especially ones that are relatively close to our house.

But let’s be honest. I mostly love summer festivals because of funnel cake.

After I got my funnel cake fix we headed over to a little side stage tucked in back of Gage Park for the New Music Expo.

For the past two years this mini concert series has been a fav of Steve and mine. It’s off the beaten track and in many ways reminds me of days when I was weee little teenager and would see bands down by the lake at the gazebo for Friday Night Live in Burlington.

For the most part the bands are raw, kinda gritty, loud and experimental. What I especially liked was that it allowed for Steve and I both to enjoy a show together since Omi could be there too; tumbling around on the grass and clovers.

We only made it for Doobie Freaks and a smidge of Glasseylashes before we packed it up for the evening.

Last year my highlights were Pucumber Sassquash and The Mystics.

Pucumber Sassquash at the New Music Expo stage 2012

The Mystics at the New Music Expo stage 2012

Happy that there’s still a few summer festivals still kicking it here at Gage Park. Love the seafoam bandshell (don’t ever change), and also love that there’s the Seven Sundays of Gage Park summer concert series, which has a line up of some really great musicians such as the Dinner Belles, Harrison Kennedy, and Jesse Lanza (check her beautifully cool video below), plus there’ll be movie screenings and food trucks. The series kicks off this Sunday July 7th but you can also check their website here for their schedule.

The Dinner Belles playing the bandshell 2012

I leave you with Jesse Lanza’s most recent video shot in  Hamilton featuring Jed the dancing guy. Jesse will be playing at the Gage Park bandshell on Sunday August 11th at 7pm for the Seven Sundays concert series.

supercrawl 2012

Alas, I did make it out to Supercrawl, and I did not end up having a Supercrawl baby.  The baby has yet to arrive, but yet another Supercrawl has come and gone.  I missed Supercrawl last year so I was happy that over the weekend I was feeling pretty good and energetic enough to walk on down to James Street and check out how things have grown and progressed since the last Supercrawl I went to two years ago.

Here are some of the photos I took as I walked down James.

"Ghost Barn" John Haney & Carey Jernigan

En Masse Mural on the Sonic Unyon & Dr. Disc building. Local artist contributions from Jamie Lawson, Jacqui Oakley, Manny Trinh, Backy Katz, & Kearon Roy Taylor

"Carnival Commanders", Aluminum Quilting Society

"When the Bottom Falls Out", Brandon Vickerd

"Hyperbolic Crochet Reef", mostly built by Angelune Des Lauriers, Shannon Gerard, Kalpna Patel & Becky Johnson

I just have to say that despite the line up of many fabulous musical acts my absolute favourite band of all of Supercrawl was a band I’d never heard of before named Bombino! A friend we ran into mentioned that this band from Niger would definitely be worth checking out and as we were heading home we sort of stumbled upon the start of their set.  They were so worth sticking around to listen to and watch -a combo of disco, funk and West African music. Here’s a little clip of what you might’ve missed…





festival food

The summers around here are filled with festivals and small town fairs.  Along with festivals and fairs comes festival food.

One of the early summer festivals we hit up was the Turkish Festival at Gage Park. My favourite was this savoury Turkish pancake, called a Gozleme.  It’s a thin buttery bread stuffed with parsley and feta cheese and then pan fried right in front of you on special hot plate that looked like an inverted hot steel bowl.

Turkish pancake, gozleme, Turkish Festival, Gage Park, Hamilton, Ontario


I went to the Winona Peach Festival for the 2nd time in the past 3 years.  I do have to be honest in saying that I will probably not go back. This year I went strictly for some food tasting, but I did not find much that would warrant another visit.

We sampled the ribbon chips, which were probably the best purchase of the evening.  The chips are thinly peeled into a giant long ribbon from one whole potato, then deep fried into golden crisp goodness.

The peach sundae was good, but like much fair food, was overpriced, and nothing that I wouldn’t be able to whip up at home with some fresh and local peaches, vanilla bean ice-cream and some whipped cream.

These deep fried panzerotti balls were the biggest disappointment.  What one would think would be awesome cheesy deep fried goodness, was just pretty much over processed crapiness.  I was looking for something a little more homemade.


We also stopped by the Cactus Festival in Dundas, which was your typical mid town fair.  There was a huge variety of food vendors, including fair classics like elephant ears, funnel cake, deep fried butter, mars bars, plus items from poutine, sweet potatoe fries, to Indian Currries and gourmet burgers.

In my many visits to Dundas I had never noticed the little Ukranian grocers until this day.  I was so excited to see the shop that I couldn’t resist indulging in some pierogies and kielbasa.  I can only dream that one day somewhere nearby there might be a pierogi festival.

My only warning to you if you do ever decide to head to the Cactus Festival, be aware that the festival population is composed of about 99.9% 12-15 year olds.  Just to give you a better picture, there was a bouncer at the McDonalds to assist with teen crowd control.


A few summers back Steve and I biked to Burlington for their annual Ribfest (Canada’s largest!).  I remember how the bike ride was a bit tricky once we hit the industrial heartland of the steel mills and entered into the highway of what is Burlington St. east (now with the bike bridge over the QEW this should be no sweat).  Not to mention the lift bridge got stuck and there was about an hour delay to cross the water to get to Burlington.

Mmmmm ribs.  Ribfest was awesome and well worth the bike ride and wait.  It was packed, smoky, and delicious.

A good sampling of ribs, pulled pork, and beer by the lake, in the sun, is a fantastic way to end off the summer.  Oh, sigh..


wolfe island music festival

On the weekend we went to Kingston to check out the 2 day Wolfe Island Music Festival.  Considering it’s their 13th annual, it’s still as sweet and charming as ever and has yet to explode like Hillside has.

Wilderling, Wolfe Island Music Festival 2011, Kingston, Montreal indie band

We arrived by ferry (free!) to the island at about 1pm on the Saturday.  Plenty of room to set up a blanket, picnic, enjoy the sun, take naps, snack and listen to some amazing music.  My band highlights of the day were Wilderling and Forest City Lovers.

Wolfe Island Music Festival 2011, Kingston, vintage camera

Wolfe Island Music Festival 2011, camping, windmill

Wolfe Ilsand Music Festival program 2011, Kingston

Plants & Animals, Wolfe Island Music Festival 2011

Wolfe Island Music Festival 2011, baked goods

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