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Photo: Dave MacIntyre

With less than 30 days to go before Canadian music festival goers descend on an idyllic camping area in Oro, north of Barrie, Ontario, we thought it a good time to take a look at all the information that we have so far, and think about how best to plan our (hopefully) sunny days and nights under the stars. The Wayhome countdown is on!

It’s been 20 long years since we’ve attempted anything like this close to Toronto. Some of you will remember Eden Music Fest (1996) at Mosport Park, which we attended and wrote about here in the dark days of winter, a daring festival experiment in the 90’s (when Lollapalooza was brand new) that failed by some measures but is remembered very fondly and happily by fans who were there for its stellar line up of Canadian, US and UK acts, its easy going vibe, great weather and old-fashioned fun in a time long before smart phones, selfies and angry tweeting were the order of the day. Since the new “Bonnaroo-style” festival was rumoured and announced in early 2015, and before it had a name or venue confirmed, we’ve waited with anticipation and excitement to finally see it happen again in our midst. There’s since been a barn raised restored to stunning beauty. Some of our best Toronto, regional and food truck offerings are in the plans. Everything is almost in place ( including day-by-day line up schedule but not set times as yet) and creative strategies are being worked out from as far as B.C. and the U.S. for serious festival chasers. History has finally arrived.

With all the competition from the granddaddy European and UK festivals, as well as a now thriving, competitive scene in Canada and the US, there has been some criticism launched at some of the big festival promoters in North America that the line ups are underwhelming. There was also a major criticism made about the lack of gender diversity in many, if not most, of the big line ups (and it would seem, in the music landscape at the current time, itself). Festival promoters, though, relying on all-important word of mouth and the need to operate with magician-like flexibility to pull these massive productions off, tend to have their ear more to the ground for customer feedback than a lot of areas of entertainment, are able to make on the ground changes, and have gone some distance to correct these complaints locally.

But music, while the point of the gathering, is just a part of the big picture. Festivals today, especially the multi-day, camping variety with some out in the country flexibility, know that the discerning festival goer wants to be entertained, dazzled, surprised, and has moved beyond just midway food, (and needs something, or many things, to Instagram) and so in impressive Bonnaroo-style (who’s AC Entertainment has co-produced Wayhome with Republic Live) we can look forward to a precedent-setting array of true blue, heightened festival offerings. Here’s a cheat sheet:

The location: Burl’s Creek Event Grounds: Located just north of Barrie, (about 1.5 hours from Toronto, but prepare for traffic) is an expansive, grassy space surrounded by mature forests.

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The festival: Wayhome Arts & Music Fest, July 24th-26th: There are flexible ticket, travel and accommodation options, including full three day event pass/camping ($249.99) VIP event pass/camping ($599.99) or single day VIP tickets ($299.99). Tickets are still available as of this writing.

Site offerings: A daily Farmer’s Market; four stages -Wayhome (Main/Ampitheatre)  Waybright: (Intimate second stage) Waybold (Dance tent) and Wayaway (Secluded Forest Stage feature late night performances); A Silent Disco; Wayart: Visual art installations throughout the grounds; numerous premium food vendors including Canadian institution Beavertails, Chevy’s Big Bite, fan pics Food Dudes and Busters and Fresh; and diverse beverage options beyond beer and water including smoothies, cold pressed juices and cold brewed coffee for the a.m. pick me up, and exciting VIP area Food offerings from The Drake Hotel (including a fish camp!). There’s also an Etsy craft market planned. There will be some 24 hour food and beverages available, a must for the night owls who bypass the grocery stop in Barrie, and prefer to live in the moment. For campers, there’s very reasonable camping rules and regulations to allow for economizing and cooking on site, as well as priming with some pre-game beers. Be sure to read the Wayhome site’s FAQ for all the info needed for campers and general rules).

General admission tickets include camping, and there’s a full program of live music from across genres, naturally, with 60 artists over 3 days including: Neil Young + Promise of the Real, Sam Smith, Kendrick Lamar, Alt-J, Modest Mouse, Hozier, Brandon Flowers (of The Killers) Bassnectar, St. Vincent, The Decemberists, Girl Talk, Future Islands, Run the Jewels,Passion Pit, Odesza, Alvvays, Yukon Blonde, Viet Cong, The Growlers (and many more).

The music will likely go all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so anyone who’s hoping to capitalize will probably want to plan to go up Thursday afternoon when the gates open (5:00 pm) or that evening.

See the Wayhome website, and their very detailed FAQ, as well as their Facebook page for information. Line up and other information is per the Wayhome official site and information emailed to ticket holders and is subject to change.  Blog TO has a great gallery of site photos as it looks today with the newly restored barn. There’s a very active Reddit thread that is a good place to exchange information and connect with other fans pre:festival.

Read our WayHome Miss Nothing! Music Guide here and here. Check back for our on-site festival coverage (photo galleries, festival reports, and reviews) over the Wayhome weekend. By Step On Magazine Editors

Full line up is below:

Line Up

Read more of our 2015 Festival Season Coverage:

Bestival Toronto Part 1

Bestival Toronto Part 2

Bestival Toronto Playlist

The Bonnaroo Diaries

Bestival Preview

Riot Fest Starts with You: A Fan’s Diary