Shoeclack’s Guide to Field Trip Music and Arts Festival
One of Toronto’s first major outdoor music festivals of the year, Field Trip Music and Arts Festival kicks off a summer packed with live music. With a unique lineup of local and internationally-renowned bands, Field Trip draws on everything from indie rock and soul to electronica, making it a great destination for any music lover. This year’s edition brought headliners The National and Robyn, while also highlighted by local favourites including July Talk, Basia Bulat, The Beaches, Holy Fuck, and Jazz Cartier. With such a diverse lineup and awesome outdoor festival grounds, Field Trip is a must-hit festival amongst the bustling Toronto music scene.
A Breakdown of the Field Trip Experience
Tickets and Expenses
At just $125 (cheaper, if purchased during the early-bird sales), a GA Weekend wristband gets you in for both Saturday and Sunday of Field Trip. Considering the lineup is made up of 25 bands spread out over just two main stages, the price is more than worth the festival, especially if you live in Toronto or can stay with a friend. However, because it is tourist season in city, hotels and accommodations can be quite expensive. Be sure to include AirBnB and other accommodation services into your search to find competitive pricing. As well, try to stay with several people to split the costs.
Downtown Toronto Location
Located at the Fort York – Garrison Common in Toronto, Field Trip is nestled in the heart of the Harbourfront area, just a few blocks east of the Molson Amphitheatre and Exhibition Place. Surrounded by one of Toronto’s most popular summer hangouts, Field Trip is a top destination for music lovers and tourists alike. Unfortunately, the busy area makes the commute rough. Parking is limited and can be a hassle, so take a taxi/Uber or the TTC, if you can. Because the festival runs from 1 PM until around 11 PM, you won’t have a lot of spare time during the day to visit other attractions. However, keep the party going and check out Toronto’s awesome nightlife. From clubs and bars to music venues and unique gatherings, there’s always something going on in the city, especially on a summer weekend.
Food Truck Heaven
Toronto has embraced food trucks in recent years, and Field Trip’s selection proves how high the quality of food is in the city. From delicious fish tacos to bacon-covered-poutine, the food was amazing and affordable compared to standard festival prices. For future festival attendees, be sure to bring some spare cash and check out a few food trucks. Discovering an awesome new dish or your new favourite local truck can be just as rewarding as discovering a new band – it’s all part of the festival experience.
A Family-Friendly Event
One of Field Trip’s greatest accomplishments is how well it has created a family-friendly environment without detracting from the enjoyment of the more rowdy festival crowd. The TD Day Camp was set up in a perfect location to allow kids and their parents to have fun without sacrificing the party vibe that naturally comes from a youthful music festival in the city. While parents and kids could enjoy the bouncy castle, hula-hoop area, and just lounging in the grass, avid (and more intense) music fans were still crowd-surfing and moshing like any other show. Even more than that, a generation of kids had the opportunity to enjoy some awesome live music. It was refreshing to see such an interesting mix of attendees, especially because everyone was so respectful towards one another. Everyone was free to enjoy the festival in their own way.
Following the last point, I really expected the comedy sets at the Laugh Barracks to be tame compared to the comedians’ regular sets. However, they did not disappoint. Topped off on Saturday by a manic set from Dave Merheje, the stand-up comedy was exceptional, especially when commenting on the nature of the festival crowd itself. As well, the intimate setting in an air-conditioned hall was a treat considering the heat. I only wish there had been more comedy sets, and its success this year should carry into the coming years at Field Trip.
Tips from a Field Trip Veteran
- Explore the Festival Grounds
Field Trip is surprisingly big in terms of ground to cover, and the festival is largely separated into two distinct sections for each stage. I came across quite a few people at the Main Stage who had no idea where the Fort York stage was, and they hadn’t even bothered to explore the other side. For the full Field Trip experience, you have to explore the whole grounds. Not only is there great music spread throughout the festival, but the Laugh Barracks, food trucks, and music photo gallery were all must-see features.
- Get there early for the main stage
With the way the fences are set up separating the VIP viewing area and the walking path, the main stage can get crowded fast. Usually, if you try to get to the front when the former crowd is leaving, you can get within 10-20 rows fairly easily. However, especially for headliners, you might end up too far back for your liking. Unlike other larger festivals, Field Trip did not have screens on the stages, so if you really want to get a great spot for a set later in the day, get there at least a set early and move closer when you can.
- Prepare for all kinds of weather
This year was a perfect example of how one weekend can be hit by every kind of weather. From Saturday’s blistering hot sun to the electrical storm that halted Sunday’s performances for four hours, be prepared for dramatic weather. Make sure you pack sunscreen, shades, and a hat, as well as a poncho, umbrella, and plastic bag to keep your belongings dry in case of rain. If the weather looks rough, rubber boots can be a lifesaver in the mud around a stage.
- Keep an eye on social media
While I definitely don’t advocate spending a day at the festival on your phone, there’s no harm in checking Facebook and Twitter every few hours to keep up to date on festival news and special surprises. From weather updates to surprise sets or revised schedules, social media makes the surprises accessible to everyone – it’s worth checking out. Plus, most of the bands playing the festival were hanging out in the grounds at some point, and a lot of them update their location on social media so fans can come say hello. For any of these awesome little experiences that make festivals so great, keep your phone charged and watch for updates.