Get ready for the 10th year of Osheaga. Ask anyone who has gone why Montreal’s music festival at Parc Jean Drapeau is one of North America’s (not to mention the world’s) most beloved. The music, the vibe, the people… It’s a festival people love to love.
As so many people come from out of town, we want to share our survival guide for the festival, updated for 2015. As new information comes available, we’ll be updating. But for now, we’ve got info on getting tickets, where to stay, how to get there, what to wear, and which bands to see.
Osheaga has a website to purchase tickets. Osheaga is not offering electronic tickets this year. Instead, you will receive your pass in the mail (which is likely a bracelet which contains the required chip to get into the festival). If you haven’t your ordered your passes, well, get on that. The method of delivery is tba. Day passes cost $100 (or $225 for the gold pass) and three day passes cost $275 ($550 for the gold pass). Delivery is currently $7 via standard shipping.
Where to Stay
You can definitely stay at “Hotel Osheaga” — several large student residences. These include Maison Molson Canadian (Carrefour Sherbrooke at 410 Sherbrooke W), Royal Victoria College at McGill (3425 Rue McGill); UQAM Résidences (2100 ST Urbain), the New Residence Hall (3625 Parc), Carrefour Sherbrooke (475 Sherbrooke W). Osheaga also offers housing in several hotels such as the Centre Sheraton (1201 Rene Levesque W), the Delta Montreal (475 Avenue du Président-Kennedy), the W Montreal (902 Square Victoria). All locations are conveniently located in the city, easily within a 15 minute metro ride to the festival site. The prices range from $280 to $1400 for 3-4 nights accommodation for 1 – 4 persons. This choice is perfect for those who like big hotels/ hostels and want to stay with hundreds of other Osheaga-goers. Some of the hotel packages include complimentary passes (for others, you need to buy your passes separately) to the festival and all include wi-fi. On the Osheaga website, you can check out their hotel deals here. These packages are available for people who are 18 and up only, so if you’re under, you should look into some of the other options.
These are not the only places that you can stay in the city. You can also rent on Air BNB if you want to rent someone’s apartment for less than the average hotel room! Since Montreal’s metro is easy to use and not that big, almost anything within walking distance of a metro station is a fine choice. You can also try staying at a hostel which is another more affordable option, starting at $20 a night in a dorm room. The m hostel (1245 Rue St-Andre) is well-regarded as the best (our article is HERE and it looked pretty awesome), but there are many others of all sizes. The Auberge HI is also extremely popular. Places like the Days Inn (215 Rene Levesque E) are of course an option. For those of you who are even more daring, you can always try couch surfing but you need to make an account and hope that your couch doesn’t bail on you.
Note that there is no camping on the island.
How to Get There
Take your bike or ride the metro to Parc Jean Drapeau on the yellow line (off either the orange or green lines at Berri-UQAM station). Many hotel packages run by Osheaga include metro passes. The metro in Montreal is clean and safe, and there are advantages and disadvantages to each type of fare you can purchase (see HERE). A single trip costs $3.25, 10 trips cost $26.50, a three-day pass costs $18, and a weekend pass — the pass you’ll likely want — costs $13 (valid Friday 6 p.m. to Monday 5 a.m.). The single trip allows transfers between bus and metro for 120 minutes once activated by use, with some restrictions on transfers (you can’t use the same station twice or backtrack). The three-day pass begins once it is activated. You can also purchase a week-long pass Note that the 747 Shuttle Bus to and from the Airport does not run on regular one-way metro tickets. You need to purchase the all day pass ($10) or the three day pass at the airport or inside Berri UQAM station to use the shuttle. The downside of the metro is that it only runs until 1 a.m. weekdays and Sundays, 1:30 a.m. on Saturdays.
If staying out late, you might want to combine your metro pass with a Bixi bike late at night. Bixi bikes are a great way to get around the city and there are three stations set up at Parc Jean Drapeau during the summer — one near the metro stop, another near La Ronde, and a third near the beach. It costs $2.75 for a one way trip, $5 for access to the Bixi system for the day or $12 for 72-hour access. Bixi bikes allow you to ride for up to 45 minutes for free. After that, you need to change bikes. So if you opt for the full day or 72-hour access, you can change bikes every 45 minutes, you never get charged more than the initial amount spent! As a warning, though, the bikes cost $7 for each half hour after that initial free 45 minutes and the stations at Parc Jean Drapeau may be full, which can lead to agony if you can’t dock the bike on the island. It might be necessary to locate an empty Bixi space off the island, which is quite the ride! Check docking availability using the Bixi application on a smartphone or their website.
If you have your own bike, there is a Terminus where you can valet park your bike for the day and even have it serviced.
There is parking at Parc Jean Drapeau for $18 per day in the islands’ 15 lots. Osheaga emphasizes the use of bikes or metro rather than driving.
For Toronto folk, Osheaga also offers a train package from Toronto for a reasonable $165 round trip. If you are using the train package (now sold out, sadly), when you get deposited in Gare Centrale in Montreal, Bonaventure and Square Victoria stations on the orange line are very easily accessible through the tunnels. Look for the signs. You can also walk a little longer for the green line station McGill, but this is a bit of a hike through the tunnels.
What to wear
Osheaga goes on rain or shine, so begin by checking the weather. Then, check the weather AGAIN. July-August is generally hot and sunny in Montreal, but things can and do change. Be prepared for sun, rain, heat or chill. A poncho or raincoat if rainy weather threatens, a sweatshirt if the weather is cool.
Whatever your outfit, be sure that you will be comfortable for the day. You’ll be doing a lot of standing and this will probably be in close proximity to other people. The most important thing to consider about your outfit is which shoes to wear. The Osheaga ground can get pretty muddy and grimy, so closed-toe shoes beat open-toe ones. There’s also a pretty good chance your feet will get stepped on. We recommend against sandals and flip flops, but you know your own feet best. Another point to consider is that the stages at Osheaga are spread far apart – and if you want to run from stage to stage, pick shoes that will get you there.
You can dress as you like, but generally a pair of sunglasses or a hat is critical. Listen to your momma and slather on the sunblock and drink lots of water.
Finally, consider what kind of bag (if any) you want to bring. You’ll want to bring something that will get through bag check quickly and can hold essentials like a water bottle, sun screen, and a snack or three. Osheaga offers storage lockers for $15 a day to rent with all-day access. Toilets? Expect port-a-potties.
Things you can’t bring — selfie sticks, professional audio/video recording equipment (so your little point and shoot digital camera is fine, but the one with six different lenses might get stopped at the gate), tents, animals (except service dogs), hard sided coolers, glass bottles and cans. See here for a full list.
There is a lost and found and there are medical staff on site. They won’t judge you, honest.
What to eat and drink
Water refill stations are available at the site, so you can bring your own empty plastic water bottle to refill. Drink, drink, drink water. Food can be purchased at the site or you can bring your own sandwich, drinks, and snacks (no coolers or bbqs though). Of course, alcoholic beverages are available. You can’t bring your own in. For food, Montreal food trucks represent! They offer delicious, gourmet-ish variety at around $8-20 for a good-sized meal. If you want to eat like a local, try POUTINE!
Which Bands to See
The festival line up is announced, and headliners generally take the stage between 9 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Most artists will perform between 30 minutes and 90 minute sets.
There are many amazing acts performing at this year’s festival, so it can be very hard to choose who to see. This is made even more difficult when two artists you like equally are playing at the same time. One way I tend to decide about this is considering the location of the stage and the performance I want to see afterwards. Some of the bands we’re stoked to see? Caribou, St Vincent, Sza, a Tribe Called Red, RL Grime, FKA Twigs, Interpol, Weezer, oh it just goes on and on and on.
How to After Party
Osheaga usually has two official afterparties each night, and there are sure to be plenty of unofficial ones. If you can’t make it to the big festival of Osheaga for financial reasons (or work reasons or other reason), this is your chance to jump into the music madness.
Keep an eye on twitter to follow the unofficial parties — subscribe to your favorite artists and venues for this sort of information.
The official afterparties bring up artists who performed during the day for DJ sets and they last well into the Montreal night (which means, until 3 a.m.). After spending all that money on your festival ticket, you’ll have to think not so long and not so hard if you want to shell out more money to keep the party going. Keep the fluid coming, and make sure a quantity of it is non-alcoholic. Otherwise, you might spend half the festival asleep. That may not be a bad thing.
So far, some of the afterparties are Brodinski and Cashmere Cat at the SAT and Young Fathers and Shash’U at the Phi Centre (Friday July 31); the film NAS: Time is Illmatic with a special guest afterparty at the Phi Centre and N’to and Thylacine at the Theatre Fairmount (Saturday Aug 1).
If you have any Osheaga tips or pictures, send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org