If music be the food of love, play on! Like tasting the unique flavours of a culinary tour, Guelph’s music scene is full of robust varieties worth sampling. Throughout the year, you can stumble upon performances in downtown pubs or during a walk in the park, but here are 6 major music events (+ a bonus year-round series) you won’t want to miss.
Guelph Musicfest, May 31 – June 21
Guelph Youth Music Centre
Save the trek to Roy Thomson Hall, and experience the same level of premiere entertainment in Guelph Musicfest’s four-concert series. Selections from Mozart, Debussy, Brahms, Chopin and more will be featured during performances by the Rolston String Quartet (May 31), violinist David Gillham (June 7), annual fan favourite The Festival Trio (June 14), and pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin (June 21).
Pair one of these concerts with a dinner at Miijidaa Café & Bistro. Make it a decadent night of carefully crafted delicate cuisine with the pristine sounds of concert music.
Hillside Festival, July 12 -14
Guelph Lake Conservation Area
To really soak up those summer vibes, there’s nothing like live music by the water -better still, on an island. Hillside Festival hits the mark with a weekend chalk full of eclectic beats and innovative music on Guelph Island. Children’s entertainment, environmental learning and indigenous drumming are just some of the experiences that go hand in hand with an incredible line up of live music.
Like the music, a world of flavours can be found at the onsite food vendors, with a variety of selections.
Riverfest Elora, August 16-18
Bissell Park, Elora
The dog days of summer are on the horizon and Riverfest Elora is the place to rock out with an epic high energy lineup that’ll make you believe summer can last forever. Avoid the traffic and stay in Guelph where you can catch the shuttle bus that comes right downtown.
The festival’s food village is full of variety including vegan and gluten-free options. We’re always partial to Guelph’s own Rudolfo’s Rebel Foods, and his salsa will be the flavourful kick you need to get back into the crowd.
Guelph Jazz Festival, September 11-15
Guelph’s music scene doesn’t slow down as autumn rolls around. Guelph Jazz Festival showcases musicians whose improvisational skills will take you on a musical experience that can never be replicated. From feverish solos to moody blues, each concert during the festival offers an explosion of creativity for the senses.
Stop in for dinner and a drink at Red Brick Café before an evening of music at St. George’s Church. Concerts are held across Downtown Guelph, and each venue provides its own character and acoustic charms.
Royal City Uke Fest, September 27 – 28
Harcourt Memorial Church
Have you ever sat in a church full of ukulele players? This small but mighty instrument has made quite the impact on Guelph’s community as Royal City Uke Fest enters its third year in the city. Scratch everything you think you know about the ukulele and be blown away through workshops and concerts by uke masters.
Like the ukulele’s sweet melodic sound, try some sweets from The Boathouse Tea Room & Ice Cream Parlour ahead of your evening concert.
Holy Smokes Music Festival, October 4-6
Guelph’s freshest new festival rounds out this season of music, and it sure lives up to its name. Holy Smokes Music Festival is a celebration of women-identifying and non-binary performers and sound people. Held around Downtown Guelph, each show will leave you pumped up, empowered and excited for the future of Guelph’s music scene.
Grab a bite at Na-Ha Thai’s Kitchen ahead of a show for some of the best pad thai in the region from a women-run restaurant!
Fourth Fridays, year-round
Guelph Civic Museum
If you’re looking to sample a little bit of everything, Guelph Civic Museum runs Fourth Fridays on, you guessed it, the fourth Friday of every month. It’s a different sound and a different style each time and is always a great night out.