How to Rock Festival Season: Our Top Travel Tips

Jul 5, 2016

Festival season is officially in full swing, with events nationwide inspiring music and comedy fans, foodies and travellers to hit the road this summer. The best way to enjoy the shows is to do a little planning beforehand.

Ottawa Bluesfest is taking place July 7-17. Photo courtesy of RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest Facebook Page

Hotels and Lodging

  • Do your hotel research first. Many festivals have partner hotels that have blocked off a large group of rooms for people coming in from out of town. Also, for the most popular events, nearby hotels anticipate the need and will hold off rooms for festival-goers.
  • We recommend booking your lodgings before your airfare or making road trip plans. Because there’s a finite number of rooms and they often go fast, finding a place to sleep for non-camping events is key.
  • Make it easier on yourself and build in a buffer so you aren’t worrying about delays and missing your favourite acts. Our advice is that if you’re flying or staying nearby, arrive at least a day early or leave a day after the events. As a bonus, hotel and flight prices will likely be cheaper in the days before and after the festival.
  • Things to keep in mind when you’re browsing: What are the basics of the festival? Will you be leaving your lodgings in the morning and not be coming back all day? Or will you want to be able to go back and forth between events?
  • If you’re willing to stay farther away from the venue or the downtown location, there could be deals to be had. To find the best options, check Travelzoo’s hotel deals.

The Calgary Stampede takes place July 8-17. Flickr photo by Mark Doliner.

How to get there

  • Another thing to consider, once you’ve picked a hotel, is what your transportation needs will be if you are staying farther away. Carpooling, festival shuttles or taxis can all be options and can be booked and arranged before arriving.
  • If the festival is near a smaller regional airport, travellers can expect flight pricing spikes for the festival due to increased demand. To save some cash, consider a bigger airport that’s within a reasonable drive. For example, Vancouver airport instead of Abbotsford. By arriving at a larger destination, you are also more likely to get cheaper rental car rates as well.

A free live performance at Place des Arts in Montreal. Just For Laughs Festival 2016 is happening July 23-31. Flickr photo by Phil Roeder.

General Advice

  • The earlier you buy, the more likely you are to save. Festivals often offer price incentives for buying tickets by a certain time. Bookmark the sites and monitor the pricing structure once you know more about your travel plans. It’s important to know whether you want a single-day pass or a full-session pass. The full pass usually makes the average per-day price more affordable, but it’s important to remember what you want to see and where you want to be when.
  • Talk to your friends early and coordinate! Buddying up on accommodations – whether it’s a hotel or condo rental or tent camping – can bring big savings, as can carpooling.
  • Apps like Travelzoo will pinpoint restaurants and things to do near you whether roadtripping or checking out the city once you’re there.

Check out these upcoming Canadian Festivals:

Carribean Carnival - Events taking place from July 5 - August 7, 2016 (Toronto, Ontario) Shediac Lobster Festival - July 6-10, 2016 (Shediac, New Brunswick) Cavendish Beach Music Festival - July 8-10, 2016 (Cavendish Beach, PEI) Ottawa BluesfestJuly 7-17, 2016 Calgary Stampede - July 8-17, 2016 Halifax Jazz Festival - July 12-17, 2016 Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition - July 15- August 21, 2016 (Parsksville Beach, B.C) Great Northern Arts Festival - July 15-42 (Inuvik, Northwest Territories) Just for Laughs Festival - July 23-31, 2016 (Montreal, Quebec) Dawson City Music Festival - July 22-24, 2016 (Dawson City, Yukon) Toronto Festival of Beer - July 22-24, 2016 Manitoba Sunflower Festival - July 22-24, 2016 (Altona, Manitoba) Wayhome - July 22-24 (Oro-Medonte, Ontario) George Street Festival - July 28-August 3, 2016 (St. John's, NL) Osheaga - July 29-31 (Montreal, Quebec) Victoria Symphony Splash - July 31, 2016 Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan - Performances throughout July and August Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival - August 5-7, 2016 (St. John's, NL) Edmonton International Fringe Festival - August 11-21, 2016 Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival - August 20, 2016 (Whistler Blackcomb, B.C) Atlantic Balloon Fiesta - September 9-11, 2016 (Sussex, New Brunswick) Winnipeg International Writers Festival (Thin Air) - September 23 - October 1, 2016 Celtic Colours - October 7-15 (Cape Breton, Nova Scotia)

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