This past August Meg and I traveled to Montreal for our first music festival ever. We ate our weight in poutine, became Montreal metro experts, and saw some of the best shows of our lives. We were able to get a front row show from Dua Lipa, watch The Neighborhood’s lead singer Jesse Rutherford crowd surf fifty rows back, and see Odesza set the Osheaga stage on fire. The weekend was so filled with unreal experiences it would be impossible to even recount them all in this guide, but needless to say we will definitely be returning to the festival for years to come. It was one of the best experiences we have ever had but there are definitely some things we wish we had known beforehand that would have made the experience even better. Below are some of our tips to make Osheaga a weekend you’ll never forget.
What to Bring
- A backpack (you can carry a cross-body if you can fit all of your items but we found it easiest to carry backpacks)
- Hand Sanitizer
- Tissues and a Facecloth
- Portable Charger
- Multiple forms of ID
- Cash (pretty much everywhere inside of the festival only accepts cash)
You may want to have:
- An umbrella (check the weather on this one it may or may not be necessary)
- A tapestry you can sit on
What to Wear
Crafting the perfect festival outfit can be a difficult task but there are a few tips you can keep in mind that may make it a little easier.
- Sunglasses or tinted glasses can pull any outfit together and they are great to have during the day when the sun is beating down on the festival grounds.
- You will sweat so choose outfits and colors with this in mind. Even if it is not particularly hot in the air the crowds of people make it quite a bit warmer and this was something we definitely did not anticipate.
- When in doubt opt for an all black look. This can be very chic and it allows you to put more emphasis on your hair and makeup.
- Don’t wear anything you won’t be comfortable wearing for ten hours. One of the days of the festival last year I wore a bathing suit because the weather forecasted that the temperature would climb near 100 degrees Fahrenheit. I styled it as a bodysuit with camo pants and this ended up being a great choice. I was able to go through the fountains and get soaked by the sprinklers while remaining comfortable. Although style is key, comfort definitely takes priority because at the end of the day you want to enjoy the shows as much as possible.
- For shoes I wore Birkenstocks but in the future I think it would be ideal to wear close toed shoes of some kind (for example adidas sneakers). Although I was comfortable in my Birks, my feet did get stepped on quite a bit and they were always very dirty by the end of the day. This was particularly a problem on the third day because the stage we were at had a sprinkler system to keep people cool while they were waiting but by the end of the day there was standing water on the ground and this ended up soaking my feet in mud. Close toed shoes would have definitely been more comfortable for that day.
What to Do
If you’re going for the whole weekend the first day is a good day to get a feel for the layout of the festival. Before you head to the festival check the Osheaga app and decide which acts you are going to see. Some of your favorite artists may be playing at the same time so strategize who you want to see the most. If an artist you are particularly excited about is playing you may want to budget time to wait at their stage beforehand to get a good spot close to the front. One of the best parts about Osheaga is there are really no bad places to watch a show but it is essentially general admission everywhere so you can get really close to artists if you are willing to wait.
You should try to arrive around the time the festival starts on Friday (1:00 pm) even if an artist you like isn’t playing at that time because it will allow you to walk around and check out the different stages, food trucks, and activities set up and help you determine which ones you want to prioritize over the weekend.
You can try to get brunch before but there is also a lot of different food available at the festival. This year a lot of popular Montreal restaurants had trucks set up with some of their best sellers. We ate the majority of our meals at the festival.
We took part in the hair braiding stations and the Oikos selfie box which were both definitely worth the wait, but we decided to skip the amusement park rides like the ferris wheel and the swing. Next year we might try some other activities but the lines make it impossible to do everything if you are also trying to catch a lot of the artists shows.
It is important that in the excitement of the shows and the activities you do not forget to drink water (especially if you plan on drinking alcohol at the festival).
Where to Stay
- Airbnb: We really enjoyed staying in an Airbnb for the festival. There are several neighborhoods near the metro stop that will take you directly to Parc Jean-Drapeau (the Berri Uqam metro stop) including the Old Port and Gay Village. Having an Airbnb in these locations is also convenient if you plan on eating meals before the festival or going out afterwards because there are lots of restaurants and bars around.
- Hotels: There are lots of hotels in and around the city you can stay in but these will be considerably more expensive than an Airbnb.
- Osheaga housing: We would not recommend this option especially if you want to explore the nightlife of Montreal or eat out before the festival. The housing provided by Osheaga is very expensive and it is located at the University of Sherbrooke which is completely isolated from the rest of the city.
How to Get There
- Metro: Take the metro from Berri Uqam into Parc Jean-Drapeau on the yellow line. There is a a three day pass available for the metro for $19 and we found this to be the most cost effective way to get to and from the festival. You can also use the metro to go other locations in Montreal like Saint Laurent Boulevard if you want to go out after the festival or back to another neighborhood if your Airbnb is far from the festival.
- Uber: It is possible to uber to the festival but the traffic crossing over the bridge is not worth the wait. You can get stuck on the bridge for upwards of two hours from what we heard and it doesn’t end up being any less costly than the metro.
Things we Wish we Had Known
- The festival is crowded EVERYWHERE. This means you will wait in line for water, the bathroom, or any activity. Oftentimes the lines move relatively quickly but be prepared to do a lot of waiting over the course of the weekend.
- Even though there is almost always an hour long break in between shows at a particular stage people will wait for artists they really care about for hours so if an artist is important to you make sure you plan on missing other artists to secure a good spot.
- You will see people faint and potentially need medical attention. If you see someone in distress look for the medics wearing orange or the security guards. (This is why it is important to stay hydrated throughout the day)
- You can bring in plastic clear water bottles and it may be smart to start the day with at least one if not two of these because the lines for water can be very long.
- The porta-potties will likely run out of toilet paper or soap at some point during the weekend so it is definitely wise to carry tissues and hand sanitizer with you.
Osheaga was one of the best weekends of our life and we hope it will be for you too! Take advantage of everything the festival has to offer and you are guaranteed to have an amazing time!