Can’t wait to see you again! Osheaga is Montreal’s premiere music festival, bringing together three days and nights of music and art and sweaty bodies on the beautiful island just off the island, Parc Jean Drapeau. From July 29 – 31, sweets sounds should emanate over the Fleuve St. Laurent (the river).
Every year, we update our survival guide for the festival. 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 passes. The most popular three-day admission pass is $375 (CDN) and offers general admission to the event. A single day pass is $145 (with upgraded options available). The Gold passes ($675 3-day and $275 1-day) add on private bars, special viewing platforms and access to private washrooms. If you can afford these passes, they give you a bit of space in the crowd, a good view of the stage, and shorter toilet lines. These amenities, although not necessary, are appreciated by those who have them (they are affectionately called the ITOTS passes — I’m Too Old for This Shit passes). And, for those who want a premium experience, complete with makeup artists, massage areas, a concierge, a backstage tour, and mimosa brunch, go for the Platinum pass ($1450 for 3-day and $585 for 1-day).
Admission is open to all, and children under age 10 can go for free if they are accompanied by an adult. Admission is handled digitally and assuming you get a 3-day pass, there will be a separate pass for each day of the festival so don’t forget to bring your charger for your phone.
How do you get your passes? Online. Incidentally, there are always incidents of fake passes being sold. Be very careful if you purchase your pass from someone other than the Osheaga website. Just sayin’.
Where to Stay
If you’re coming from out of town, you’ll need a place to stay. There’s no camping on Parc Jean Drapeau and Osheaga isn’t offering its own accommodation this year. So what should an out-of-towner do? Air BnB, a hotel, or a hostel are your best options. Since access to Osheaga is easy by metro (subway), anywhere in the city that is along the metro line will work.
Hotels are plentiful in Montreal, especially in Centre Ville (Downtown) and the Vieux Port (Old Port) area. Some are very chic and high end. Some scare away bed bugs. Check out reviews before you commit. Sometimes staying at a less obvious hotel might be a great option. For example, the Hilton Garden Inn Midtown on the Decarie Expressway is brand new and five minutes walk to Narmur metro station. It’s about 1/3 the price of a downtown hotel. You can also rent on Air BNB or a similar rental app for less than the average hotel room. Not much less, though. Montreal is at a bit of a war with Air BNB as it makes housing less affordable for those who live in the city and theoretically there are only specific areas in the city where Air BNB can happen. BUT… Montrealers can be a bit of a do as I say, not as I do type of people and there are rooms to be had. Summer prices can be high in Montreal, so you might want to look into options that aren’t necessarily within the traditional tourist neighbourhoods (Old Port, Centre Ville, Plateau, Latin Quarter, Guy-Concordia areas) and use a combination of bus, metro, and foot to reach the Osheaga site. Since Montreal’s metro is easy to use and once you’re on it, it goes quickly, almost anything within walking distance of a metro station is a fine choice. With Bixi bikes and the bus system, you can even extend the range of potential places even further. There are no “bad” neighbourhoods in the city, though the most popular will include St. Henri, Villeray, Centre Ville (downtown), the Latin Quarter and the Plateau.You can also try staying at a hostel. These are more affordable options, starting at $20 a night in a dorm room. The Hotel 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 SaintLo is also extremely popular, but probably booked up already.
How to Get To The Site and Around Montreal
Take a bike or ride the metro to Parc Jean Drapeau on the yellow line (off either the orange or green lines at Berri-UQAM station). During the Osheaga festival, you’ll easily spot where to go because hundreds of other Osheagites will be in the metro with you. The metro in Montreal is clean and safe and runs regularly while open, save for the occasional service interruption. The downside of the metro is that it only runs until 1 a.m. weekdays and Sundays, and until 1:30 a.m. on Saturday night (technically Sunday morning). From one end of the orange line to the other (Montmorency to Cote Vertu), the trip is around 45 minutes. From one end of the green line to the other (Angrignon to Henri Bourassa), the trip is around 36 minutes. The idea of an unsafe subway (or a neighbourhood for that matter) is outside the comprehension of most locals.
Biking to the site is an option and Osheaga offers a place to keep bicycles.
One point that many Osheaga goers make is that getting on the subway at the end of the night to leave the site sucks. It’s crowded and people are tired, cranky, high, or just not in the mood. Recommendations are to leave before the headliner encores or get ready to wait patiently. You can always walk over the bridge from the park. What a view of the city you get!
There are advantages and disadvantages to each type of fare you can purchase (see HERE). The STM, Montreal’s transit authority, updated its fare system July 1 and divided the city and places around it into zones. Chances are you’ll be in Zone A the entire time you are in Montreal. Zone A fares include buses, trains, and metro/subway, and allow for one way transfers along the route. A single trip costs $3.50, 2 trip ticket is $6.50, 10 trips cost $31.50, a 24- hour pass is $11, a three-day pass costs $21.25, and an unlimited zone A,B,C, and weekend pass — the pass you’ll likely want — costs $14.75 (valid Friday 4 p.m. to Monday 5 a.m.). Trips to and from the airport cost $11. The single trip fare 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 metro pass begins once it is activated. Ride your heart out. You can also purchase a week-long pass which starts on a Monday and ends on a Sunday, regardless of when in the week it is purchased. Most locals have an OPUS card, which costs $6 and can be recharged to carry different types of metro fares. If you don’t have an OPUS card, you get a paper ticket to carry around with you that you take when you pay at one of the station ticket machines. You generally only tap the ticket once at the turn-styles while entering the metro system — you don’t need it to exit. Occasionally there are cops checking for tickets. Metro tickets can be purchased at a metro station from an agent or using one of the machines. If the French is confusing, press the button for EN (English).
Finally, one super generous thing the city has done has made accessing the metro free at certain stations on the weekends. These are available Saturday and Sunday: Peel, McGill, Place-des-Arts, Saint-Laurent, Berri-UQAM, Champ-de-Mars and Place-d’Armes.
If you come by airplane, the 747 Shuttle Bus to and from the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Airport does not run on regular one-way metro tickets. You fare is $11 one-way, although the one-day ticket, the three-day ticket, and the weekend ticket should cover your fare to the airport. If you need to buy a 747 ticket, you can pick them up inside the airport, or also at a ticketing machine, just like regular tickets. The 747 bus runs 24 hours a day, though in the wee hours of the night, it runs infrequently (schedule from airport, schedule to airport). The good news is that once you purchase the all-day pass, you can use it all day on the subway and bus system — useful if you’re coming into the city, less useful if you’re heading to the airport.
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 Bixi 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. At Osheaga, there is usually a place to deposit a Bixi. The cost of Bixi is very affordable. $1 to unlock a bike and $.15 a minute for a regular Bixi and $.30 a minute for an electric Bixi. Once unlocked, you can use the bike for 45 minutes. After that, you need to change bikes. Keep abreast of the news from Bixi HERE. Incidentally, Bixi bikes are rather heavy and slow — they’re not exactly luxurious rides, but they do get you around and the electric Bixis are fun. You should wear a helmet on the electric Bixi (by law) and on the regular ones… but you will see a lot of people without helmets anyway. One last warning… the Montreal police love to fine people who ride with headphones or earbuds in, so take them out of your ears — even if you’re using them for directions — when riding.
If you have your own bike, there is a Terminus at Osheaga where you can valet park your bike for the day.
There is parking at Parc Jean Drapeau for $25 per day in the island’s 15 lots. Osheaga emphasizes the use of bikes or metro rather than driving.
What to wear
Osheaga happens 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 cold, and quite possibly all four. You don’t want to be running out to buy needed clothing during the festival, unless shopping was part of your trip. For that, Simons is kind of the local favourite department store and has lots of festival appropriate clothing. A poncho or raincoat if useful if rainy weather threatens or to sit on. At night, you will be glad if you have a warm hoodie once the sun is down and the weather cools.
Osheaga crowd. Photo Rachel Levine
Whatever your outfit, be sure that you will be comfortable for the day, especially your SHOES/SNEAKERS. You’ll be doing a lot of standing and this will probably be in close proximity to other people. 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. The most important thing to consider about your outfit is which shoes to wear. The Osheaga ground gets muddy and grimy. REPEAT: THE OSHEAGA GROUND GETS MUDDY AND GRIMY. Closed-toe shoes beat open-toe ones. There’s also a good chance your feet will get stepped on. Our tip: avoid sandals and flip flops. Go for sneakers that are comfortable and you don’t mind getting filthy.
Osheaga. Footware. Photo Rachel Levine.
You can dress as you like, short shorts or pants with the crotch between your knees, but generally a pair of sunglasses and/or a hat is needed. Listen to your momma and slather on the sunblock and drink lots of water.
Finally, consider what kind of bag you want to bring. You’ll want to bring something that will get through bag check quickly and can hold essentials like your hoodie, your phone and wallet, a phone charger, a water bottle (a plastic water bottle or container is allowed), sun screen, and a snack or three. A beach towel or blanket is also very useful for sitting on the grass. People recommend bringing those $.99 ponchos in case of rain or just to sit on. Some swear by wet wipes — it gets grimy. Also, consider bringing a mask for where it gets dusty (generally near the foot bridge between the two stage locations). For a reasonable fee, Osheaga previously offered storage lockers with a phone charger with all-day access. Presumably they will be available again. Toilets? Expect port-a-potties and long lines.
Yes, you can bring one water bottle, but there’s lots of stuff you can’t bring. Things you can’t bring — selfie sticks, animals (except guide dogs), items to sell, flags, banners, beach balls, frisbees, 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), drones, skateboards, musical instruments, hard coolers, tents, totems, hard sided coolers, glass bottles and cans. Osheaga has a policy against wearing the Indian/First Nations headdress and you don’t want to be the insensitive culture-offending douche bag anyway. See here for a full list.
There are charging zones for your devices, as well as a lost and found. Most importantly, there is medical staff on site. Osheaga also provides places to chill out away from noise and they won’t judge you, honest.
Water refill stations are available at the site, so you can bring your own empty plastic water bottle to refill. Drink, drink, drink water. Drink more water. You can bring your own snacks, and there is plenty to purchase. There is delicious, gourmet-ish variety at around $8-20 for a good-sized meal. Gluten free, vegetarian and vegan options are available.
Vegetarian Food. Osheaga. Photo Rachel Levine
Getting In to the Site and Other Site Info
The line up to get into Osheaga will be long. It moves pretty quickly, but never quickly enough. Most people arrive via metro and queue up. It can be a little confusing which line to follow, but if you have a regular pass, it’s the long one. Those with gold or platinum passes have their own check in lines that are faster, so follow instructions. The site opens at 1 p.m., and acts start at 2 p.m., so if you don’t want to miss the earliest acts, arrive early. Expect to have your bag searched and to pass through a metal detector. Make sure you have access to your ticket on your phone!
The stages are spread out and it is about a 5-10 minute walk between the two main stages and the other stages. his walk can be dusty and muddy (usually both). There are little paths through the woods as well with art exhibits and chill out spaces. If you have a group of friends, pick a meeting point and a time to meet if you want to find each other again easily. Cell service in Osheaga can be kind of spotty. Expect your texts and messages to be delayed. Consider time stamping them before you send them.
If you want to avoid large crowds of people packing into the metro at the end of the night, leave before the headliners finish their encores. Otherwise, just be ready to wait.
Alcohol, Marijuana, Drugs, and Sex
Osheaga has many on-site bars and alcoholic beverages are available for those who are 18+, but you can’t bring your own in. Bring two pieces of ID to purchase alcohol.
Yes, you can smoke pot at Osheaga. It has to be in the sealed SQDC packaging and under 30 grams. There are stores that sell marijuana products in many locations in Montreal. Selling marijuana at Osheaga is prohibited.
You’re not allowed to bring illegal drugs or outside alcohol to Osheaga. The festival checks bags for drugs and alcohol at entry. But, to be honest, in over 10 years of going to Osheaga, it’s clear that those who want to manage to do so anyway. Security check is thorough, but not that thorough. In the past, the festival has offered chill-out spaces for those whose trip has gone awry as well as on-site medical volunteers.
Osheaga also offers the services of Les Hirondelles, a first-responder and intervention group for women and vulnerable people who experience acts of sexual harassment and aggression at festivals and other events. They will listen and provide support to those in need. Les Hirondelles can be spotted by their pink shirts, or you can ask a security guard to direct you to one if you require their services.
Which Bands to See
The festival line up is announced with performers starting at around 2 p.m. and continuing to 11 p.m. The headliners generally take the stage between 8 p.m. – 11 p.m. Most artists perform between 30 minute and 90 minute sets. Osheaga has a solid app (itunes, android) that will guide you towards what/who/when, so download for your phone ahead of time. It has been known to crash on both platforms, though. When it works, it is quite useful.
There are many great 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. There are six different stages, with between three or four playing concurrently. The Bell River Stage and Coors Light Mountain Stage sit side by side, so the evening headliners start on one stage, and then the next stage features the second evening headliner. Usually you end up with a good view of one headliner and a bad view of the other. Pick the one you want to see well. If you want to get up as close as possible, arrive early and approach via the side rather than through the middle. Most people prefer to stay back and watch from the grass. If you just want to dance your face off, the Coca-Cola Island stage is where to go for continuous EDM and variants from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m.
While you are probably familiar with most of the headliners, it’s quite possible you haven’t heard too many songs, if any songs at all, from the other acts. Osheaga is a great opportunity to expand your musical horizons and discover something new. Listen to an Osheaga playlist ahead of time (this one on Spotify for example) and familiarize yourself with some of the upcoming artists. Or, just wander around and let fate decide who your new favourite find is.
For a few picks from us based on the most recent list.
For Friday: Tones and I, Pink Pantheress, The Kid LAROI, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Arcade Fire, Meduza, Chris Lake
For Saturday: Pierre Kwenders, Tove Lo, Sebastian Leger, Mitski, Geoffroy, Polo & Pan, Caribou, Future
For Sunday: Sam Fender, Emile Bourgault, Mahalia, girl in red, Apashe, Glass Animals, Alan Walker, Seven Lions, Machine Gun Kelly, Dua Lipa, Inhaler, The Halluci Nation
What Else to Do During the Day
There is no one right way to Osheaga, but pace yourself is generally good advice (unless you prefer excess). There is so much going on from the moment the gates open until when they shut at 11 p.m. Take breaks by checking out Osheaga’s art exhibitions or sitting in the grass. Enjoy the view over the river.
Art exhibits are always a major part of Osheaga. You can watch art being made.
There are different tents and stands for those who want to buy swag or sample various food stuffs. There’s usually a rather fun
Many people just like to splash around in the fountains. Or, take a moment to lie around in the hammocks. There are also carnival rides.
And of course, there are those who spend all day grooving and grinding with the DJs.
Map and Getting Around
The map is here at last! The stages are in similar places as in previous years. The stages are not very shady, so make sure you’re ready for the sun.
The Mountain and River stages (the Coors Light and Bell stags) sit side by side. The biggest acts play here, alternating from one stage to the next. When it comes to the big headliners, choose which act you’d rather see and position yourself for a view of that stage.
The Coca Cola stage (Scene de L’Ile stage) is where the EDM happens. If you go there, it’s writhing bodies, lots of dancing, omg, so fun. It’s pretty tight and only shady in a few spots.
In trying to navigate from the Mountain and River stages to the Green and Valley stages, and even the Arbres stage (Chevy, stage, the unnamed stage, and the Sirius stage), there is often a major bottleneck over the foot bridge over the road. There’s many steps up and many steps down. Lots of cool art things and booths with samples and swag are in this area of the park. If you want to try and avoid that, assuming the road is accessible, going around the aquatic complex and over the road to the area near the Sirius XM stage is usually a quieter, but longer path.
Food is generally between the main entrance along the route down towards the statue of the Trois Disques. It’s a nice chill out space near the Trois Disques with a good view of the city.
How to Pre and After Party
During the festival, there are After Parties sponsored by Osheaga (again, DJ nights, usually with bands playing at the festival). Osheaga usually has three or four official afterparties each night, and there are sure to be plenty of unofficial ones if you follow clubs and twitter feeds and what not. The good thing about After Parties is they often feature bands playing at Osheaga at rather inconvenient times (early during the day) during the festival — so this is a chance to catch what you’ve missed.
Gus Dapperton and King Hannah — Theatre Fairmount
Meduza — MTELUS
Chris Lake — New City Gas
TBD — Newspeak
Ferias [Osheaga Edition] — Barbossa 22 p.m. – 3 a.m.
Role Model and NIko Rubio — Theatre Corona
Bruce Vine (live) — New City Gas
QRION — Newspeak
Sebastien Leger – Elias Erium — 23:59 – 3 a.m.; Stereo
MITIS — Newspeak
LP Giobbi and A$H Banks — Studio TD
Monitors — Stereo (22 p.m. – 3 a.m.)
Osheaga is fun with friends, but don’t worry if you show up alone. Chances are if you bravely strike up a conversation and say you’re at the festival alone, you’ll go home with many new friends who will join you at future Osheagas. Some places to look for friends for Osheaga before the festival include the reddit. Here are some favourite conversation starters:
- Where did you get your bag/hat/shoes/sunglasses?
- Which stage do you think is better to stand in front of for tonight’s headliner, the Mountain Stage or the River Stage?
- Is there a song that you’re waiting to hear performed?
- Have you seen the Trois disques sculpture?
- Is there anything else you want to do while you’re in Montreal? or Is there anything you recommend doing while I’m in Montreal?
- Are there any other music festivals you’re planning to go to this summer?
Reduced Mobility and Accessibility
Osheaga is a big site, but the festival organizers do quite a bit to ensure that it is accessible for those with reduced mobility and disabilities. In particular, there are dedicated parking spaces, a paratransit shuttle to the site, and user friendly platforms and washrooms for those with reduced mobility and disabilities. Of course guide dogs are welcome on site.
Top Tips From Redditers
- Go to the Port-a-Potties in the back. They’re almost always free, and considerably cleaner — blanche2027
- Get the metro pass – lacontrolfreak
- Rent a locker — devries6276
- Water is underrated, bring a collapsible bottle or bag with a water bladder — devries6276
- Wear shoes you would be okay with throwing away after the weekend — devries6276
- Listen to as much of the lineup as possible beforehand, see as many artists as possible that you are most interested in — devries6276
- Bring snacks and fruits — devries6276
- Always bring a phone charger, especially this year with digital tickets — lostbutfound101
- For quick movement, prioritize working your way towards the edges/sides of a crowd and then moving outwards from there — russianbear28
- Definitely bring a mask and wear it whenever it gets dusty. Your lungs and throat will thank you. — russianbear28
- Find a proper after party — cabsmell
- Bring wet wipes and tissues! You will be blowing out dark snot from all the dirt – Manic_Pixiie
If you have any Osheaga tips or pictures, please leave them in the comments below. We love your input and pictures! you can tag them #mtrlrampage or send them to us at email@example.com