Hillside returns July 14-16 for its 34th celebration of talent, creativity, and performance. The not-for-profit festival will host an impressive array of musical acts, along with opportunities to check out spoken-word artists, workshops and vendors. The three-day showcase is set against the beautiful backdrop of the Guelph Lake Conservation area, where festival goers have access to the stunning beaches and grounds.

Last year’s winner for Best Green Operations Festival (Canadian Music Week), Hillside blends its mission for artistic expression with one that supports environmental initiatives and community engagement. Their solar-powered “Sun Stage” is one example of efforts to promote sustainable energy. Their Living Roof and dish washing stations are among other initiatives to promote green space and reduce waste.

Guelph Lake may seem like a trek for some, but with round-trip shuttle buses available from the Dufferin Mall, it’s easier than ever for Toronto friends to join in. (Note – shuttle buses are sold out.)

Here are some recommendations for your time on the island:

William Prince

William Prince garnered attention and acclamation with his Juno-award winning debut album Earthly Days, a record that blends baritone vocals with poignant lyrics. The folk/country singer-songwriter skillfully tackles issues of love and loss, exposing the core of the human experience with an equal dose of power and vulnerability.

William PrinceBloom 

Murder Murder

Murder Murder is a bluegrass band that hails from Sudbury, Ontario. Implicit in the name, the string band draws from the folk tradition of murder ballads. Rooted in lore, but not bound by it, they incorporate a modern ethos into the mix. Their fiery blend strikes a cord with listeners looking for the best of both worlds: an authentic ode to the past with a fresh sensibility and perspective. (Official site.) 

Murder Murder – Movin On 



Front woman Jasmyn Burke brings energy and powerful vocals to Weaves, a Toronto-based indie quartet. Weaves bewilders listeners with an eclectic, smorgasbord sound that incorporates guitar-driven prog pop with notes of R&B and rock n’ roll. Attempt to categorize the group feel futile. What’s important is the result: a sound that is inspired, original, and damn hard not to dance to.

Weaves – Shithole 

Lindy Vopnfjörd

Lindy Vopnfjörd’s preoccupation with socio-political issues comes through in his music. With sparse instrumentals and delicate vocals, Vopnfjörd thoughtfully explores the lives of individuals on the fringes of society. The Canadian-Icelandic folksinger sets human strife against natural imagery, driving his listeners to see that beauty prevails in situations of depravity and struggle.

Lindy Vopnfjörd – Lover Sister 



Aside from the music, Hillside features a plethora of educational and performance-driven activities. Early risers can head to the Indigenous Circle for the Sacred Fire Ceremony, DIYers can learn how to grow their own beer, and those of us looking to decompress can take part in the “Sing Stress Away” workshop. No matter your niche, something is bound to catch your eye.

Tickets are available for purchase online and in person at Bookshelf (Guelph), the Beat Goes On (Guelph), Encore Records (Kitchener), Grooves (London), Dr. Disc (Hamilton) and Soundscapes (Toronto).

Check out the official Hillside website for more information.

By Elizabeth Andrews