If you saved a few pennies this year, or own a credit card with room to burn, it's time to skip town. Wondering where to go? Tuck this handy guide into your fanny pack—and if you're flying, calculate how much you should donate to environmental projects to offset the greenhouse emissions: www.greenmyflight.com.
Bring your finest black outfits and witty repartee to Kassel, Germany, for Documenta (June 16-September 23, www.documenta12.de), an exhibition of international contemporary art that takes place every five years. And while you're there, pop over to Venice for the Biennale (June 10-November 21, www.labiennale.org). This year, Montreal artist David Altmejd, best known for his creepy, decaying werewolf and bird sculptures, is representing Canada there. Somewhat closer to home (but probably more expensive to fly to), the Vancouver Art Gallery (vanartgallery.bc.ca), features Huang Yong Ping's sculptural menagerie, (including a realistic life-sized elephant transporting a ticked-off, snarling tiger), and an exhibition of Andrea Zittel's work, including her customized trailer-home—this obsessed artist often lives in her art.
Toronto's Summerworks Theatre Festival (August 2-12, www.summerworks.ca) is the place to find the next Gordon Pinsent, with over 45 productions from emerging, independent Canadian theatre companies. Or exercise those vocal chords at the Scream Literary Festival (July 3-9, thescream.ca), with readings inside, outside and around the town. Or take a trip to Winnipeg's Fringe Theatre Festival (July 18-29, www.winnipegfringe.com), one of the biggest in the country, with 22 venues within a five-minute walk of the Old Market Square.
If you need a reason to visit St. John's, Newfoundland, the Nickel Independent Film Festival (June 19-23, www.nickelfestival.com) sells out all its screenings of local, Canadian and foreign short films, features, documentaries and music videos each year. Plus, you're in St. John's. Or if the prairie skies call, Regina's rep cinema, the RPL Film Theatre, housed in the city library, rotates its films on a regular basis. Sigh...
Even if you don't agree that Bob Dylan, Patrick Watson and Apostle of Hustle belong on a jazz line-up, there's no denying that the Montreal Jazz Festival (June 28-July 8, www.montrealjazzfest.com) is Canada's biggest music happening. What makes this festival so great (and probably annoying for people who live there) is the free events, and Montreal's blessedly liberal booze laws mean people who want a beer aren't barricaded behind a fence like drunken livestock.
Ottawa's Bluesfest (July 4-15, www.ottawabluesfest.ca) is also dubiously named, but with George Clinton, Kanye West, Final Fantasy, Alejandro Escovedo, Metric, Sarah Harmer and Steve Miller on the line-up, I envision a kick-ass, group-hug rendition of "Fly Like an Eagle."
The Hillside Festival (July 27-29, www.hillsidefestival.ca) in Guelph manages to stay small and intimate, with workshops, food, art and spoken word, which is probably what attracts artists such as The Dears and Ani DiFranco to the hill. Amy Millan and our favourite old man, Luedecke, follow the northern lights to the Dawson City Music Fest (July 20-22, dcmf.com). If you're unemployed, and have a car and a mind-boggling capacity for self-punishment, follow the Warped Tour (June 29-August 25, www.warpedtour.com) to California and back. With over 100 bands involved, you'll never see the same show twice.
If thoughts of public urination, sunstroke and hacky-sacking make you want to dive into an isolation tank, there are plenty of indoor concert tours, too. Travis, Camera Obscura, Crowded House, G. Love, Bjork, Fiona Apple, Carolyn Mark, Morrissey, Modest Mouse, Prince, Tori Amos and more are crisscrossing the continent (pollstar.com). Or grab a blanket and head to New York's SummerStage (www.summerstage.org) in Central Park for free concerts from The Decemberists, Neko Case, Joss Stone, Rufus Wainwright and the Spanish Harlem Orchesta.
EVENTS & FESTIVALS
All summer, Toronto's Harbourfront Centre is running free weekend cultural festivals, but our bellies cheer for the Hot & Spicy Food festival (August 10-12, www.harbourfrontcentre.com), and our hips give a shake for the Global Hip-Hop festival (July 27-29), with Cuban rapper Telmary.
Thanks to Calgary's new tourism spokeperson Prince Harry, expect the chuckwagons to be full of randy cowboys jingle-jangling out west to the Calgary Stampede this summer (July 16-15, www.calgarystampede.com). For more dirty tee-hees, Montreal is the place to be as the Just for Laughs (July 8-29, www.hahaha.com) festival pulls out the antibacterial wipes for headliner Howie Mandell, plus William Shatner, Russell Peters and... get ready for it...a Kevin MacDonald solo show and a Kids in the Hall reunion. So, get your girlie drink drunk-on and say hello to Cabbage Head!