Osheaga 2018: Music as far as the ear can hear

Jamie O'Meara

It isn’t just Montréalers who think Osheaga’s tops: last year’s edition of the massive music and arts party took home the award for “Best Major Festival of the Year” at the Live Music Industry Awards, part of Canadian Music Week. And with stars like Arctic Monkeys, Khalid, Travis Scott, Florence + the Machine, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs aligning on this year’s roster, we’re thinking odds are looking good for a repeat. And here’s why…

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The place to be

Taking place over three days, August 3 to 5, the all-ages Osheaga, Music and Arts Festival, is one of the hands-down highlights of Montréal’s summer festival calendar. Each year, the festival welcomes 135,000 concertgoers for first-rate programming that spans pop, rock, indie, hip-hop, R&B, electro, soul and more. It all goes down at its utterly unique site on the pastoral, tree- and pathway-lined Parc Jean-Drapeau, located in the middle of the St. Lawrence River just minutes by car, metro or bike from downtown Montréal. The sprawling greenspace is also home to the ’77 Montréal punk rock fest (July 27), the Heavy Montréal metal fest (July 28 and 29) and the ÎleSoniq electronic dance music festival (August 10 and 11).

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Setting the stage(s) for a great time

Over 100 artists will spread out over Osheaga’s seven stages, including the two massive main stages (which come with exclusive viewing platforms and lounges for those holding special passes) and an electronic stage complete with a water-borne, floating dance floor. Among the music industry A-listers mounting those stages will be returning U.K. rock stars Arctic Monkeys, soul-pop singer/songwriter Khalid, rapper Travis Scott, indie rock phenoms Yeah Yeah Yeahs, punk/new wave legend Blondie, righteous New York indie rockers The National, game-changing hip-hop innovators De La Soul, indietronica duo Odesza and, closing out the festival, the artful and inimitable rock and pop of Florence + the Machine.

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Prepare to live the moment

While so much of the Osheaga experience is about living in the moment, a little advance prep never hurt anyone either. To that end, organizers have come up with an innovative (and amazingly spot-on) way to help you choose which shows you want to see: the artist recommender app, based on Facebook likes and other criteria. While on the topic of apps, the Osheaga Play app is your key to all things fest-related: view the full festival schedule, listen to the official playlist and get notifications 15 minutes before artists hit the stage. And be sure to consult the app’s interactive site map (complete with a “friend finder” function). It’s there that you’ll be able to locate places like the Osheaga Play Zone (think giant crazy playground for adults), the Wi-Fi Chill Zone (step away from the madness for a minute) and the family friendly Kids Zone. Speaking of which, do take note that children 10 and under get into Osheaga completely free when accompanied by a pass-holding adult.

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The festival food equation

If Osheaga = Montréal, and Montréal = food, it therefore follows that Osheaga = food. And how. Every year, Osheaga takes pride in providing a variety of different food vendors for a wide range of tastes. Many of Montréal’s famous food trucks, as well as concession stands and catering services from the greater Montréal area, will be sprinkled liberally throughout the festival site. Rumbling stomachs can expect loads of traditional fest fare (pizza, hotdogs, poutine and the like) as well as local specialties and vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. And new this year is the YUL EAT Brasserie, Osheaga’s premium food and drink garden. Festival goers are also allowed to bring their own grub for personal consumption (e.g., a sandwich, fruit, granola bars, etc.), but coolers and lunch boxes are not permitted.

Jamie O’Meara

Jamie O’Meara, blogger

Jamie O’Meara is a writer for The Montreal Gazette, C2 Montréal, Moment Factory and more. He also manages the PR Team at the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival and is the former Editor-in-Chief of alt-weekly newspaper HOUR Magazine.

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