There’s something special about the music scene in smaller cities and towns. A relaxed yet enduring love for music that brings strangers together and turns them into friends. This passion can be seen in the abundance of Barrie music events that happen here almost daily.
We Canadians are proud of our music scene. Anytime someone mentions Arcade Fire, Fiest, Metric, or The Arkells we can’t help but say “hey did you know they’re Canadian?” Supporting Canadian festivals and music venues is a point of pride among us and nothing gets us out of the house, even in the dead of winter, like the prospect of a good show. In Barrie and Simcoe County area there are dozens of fantastic venues and events.
Check out our list of the top 21 that you won’t want to miss.
Music Festivals in Simcoe County
This country music festival has grown in popularity and size over the years and is now Canada’s largest country music festival, and North America’s second largest only behind the CMA Music Festival. It attracts big name talent like Carrie Underwood, Tim McGraw, Marin Morris, Florida Georgia Line and many more. This popular event sells out quickly so it’s advised to plan in advance if you’re hoping to snag a good ticket.
Boots & Hearts can be found at Canada’s largest outdoor music venue, the 600 acre Burl’s Creek Event Grounds. The space has operated as an event park since 1984, and over the years its wide grounds have been landscaped into a space with natural beauty unseen at other event grounds. It is home to a number of popular music festivals.
Another Burl’s Creek hosted event, Big Sky brings back the slower classic country festival feel with the inclusion of a classic car show, craft market and food vendors. The inaugural show has famous performers such as Travis Tritt, Alabama and Diamond Rio.
3. Canada Rocks
This new music festival, also held at Burl’s Creek, is a music celebration of all things Canadian. To ring in the festival’s inaugural year, the Rolling Stones, Glorious Sons, Sloan and more will be performing. Locals hope that this will become a yearly event!
Running strong for 15 years, the Barrie Waterfront Festival is a fantastic family event that has a variety of live bands, beer gardens, street buskers, midway rides, street vendors and delicious foods. This free event is held yearly at the Barrie waterfront and is easily accessible from anywhere downtown.
This signature Barrie music event takes place annually in over 25 different venues across the Barrie area. Shows are held at the rotunda in Heritage Park by the lake, but also at the Farmers Market, the Public Library, the Yacht Club, Redline Brewhouse and many more. Whether you’re a local or a visitor to the area you’ll find an event to enjoy.
Kempenfest is Barrie’s much loved arts and music festival that is held yearly by the shores of Kempenfelt Bay. Have a fantastic summer weekend with midway rides, shopping craft booths, tasty foods and many musical shows. Past artists include April Wine, Sloan, George Canyon and more.
A new festival for 2019, the Roxodus Festival takes place in Edenvale which is a short 25 min drive from downtown. Bringing together famous acts like Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Collective Soul, and Kid Rock, everyone in Simcoe County is hoping the festival will become a yearly event. If you’re a foodie, the festival has celebrity chefs Massimo Capra and Lynn Crawford providing gourmet culinary delights for an additional charge. Onsite tent camping, and RV camping are available, or you can purchase a ‘ready to go’ full camping package you can take home with you after the festival is over.
This September festival brings the outdoor music season in Barrie to a close. Free concerts at the Meridian Place Amphitheater, and shows at various downtown venues will bring over 30 artists and bands to Barrie. The 2019 Festival line up includes Cowboy Junkies, Bedouin Soundclash and many more.
Barrie Area Music Events and Venues
Located on Maple Ave in Barrie, TLC is a small cafe space that hosts acoustic open mic nights every Thursday, live music sets on Fridays and vinyl nights on Saturdays. A local favourite, this spot also serves tasty food and cold beverages.
A Barrie Uncovered favourite, it seems like this music venue always has something going on. On Band Jam Wednesdays, they provide a full back-line including keyboards, drums, and amps. Then, from Thursday to Saturday, they feature upcoming local band performances on the main stage. Grab yourself a gourmet hotdog and settle in for a fantastic show.
Everyone loves a good Irish pub. Donaleigh’s combines a delicious pub menu, an extensive drink list, and a range of live music shows in their Temple Lounge. Before opening Donaleigh’s with partner Don Kellett, owner Steve Ricallis spent his youth being a roadie for bands like Fleetwood Mac, U2, and more.. The food is hot, the beer cold, and the music will get your foot tapping – what more do you need?
Mavricks Music Hall was called The Roxx back in 1931. Since then it’s been through a number of variations before settling as a live music venue in 2016. Shows from The Trews, Kip Moore, Bahamas and many other bands have created lifelong local fans of the venue.
Kenzington’s claim to fame is being featured on the Food Network show You Gotta Eat Here, but their local reputation is enough to bring in customers by the dozen. Good food aside, they also have live music seven days a week. Grab a seat, grab a burger, and settle in for a good night with local talent.
A classic pub, this north Dunlop spot checks all the boxes – good pub food, cold beers, live music and that ‘everyone knows your name small town feel.
Looking for somewhere you can listen to good live music all while eating a perfectly cooked steak? Shirley’s is the spot. Across the street from Heritage Park, this contemporary restaurant is lauded for its delicious food and welcoming atmosphere.
16. The Ranch
What’s a town without a country bar? The Ranch is Barrie’s answer to that question. This massive 18,000 square foot venue is proud to be Canada’s largest country bar. Complete with live entertainment, music shows, concerts, dance parties, and a full bar, this is the place to be if you’re looking for a party – don’t forget your cowboy boots!
Queens is one of the busiest spots in Barrie on a weekend. The business has two different offerings – the nightclub or the Bar & Grill. Friday and Saturday nights at the Bar & Grill you can take in different live music shows starting at 5:30, and afterwards you can pop over to the nightclub to dance your night away.
There are so many great places to find an evening of live music in Barrie, this list is only the beginning! Barrie Uncovered is your top source for everything related to our thriving local music scene. Keep an eye out for more ongoing coverage of places to go enjoy our wonderful local talent.
More For Barrie Music Lovers
In addition to all these amazing music events and venues, there are even more music resources to take advantage of!
- Barrie Uncovered brings you a weekly roundup of the best local shows with Gigs This Week.
- The Uncover The Music podcast gives you a behind the scenes look at Simcoe’s talent and the music scene.
- Interested in listening to some of the fantastic talent in the area? We’ve compiled Barrie’s Set List, a Spotify playlist of local artists that’s updated weekly.
Barrie Record Shops
Barrie has a couple options when it comes to records shops:
- BJ’s Records & Nostalgia is a great place to spend an afternoon searching through records.
- Sunrise Records in the Bayfield Mall is a classic record store with locations across Canada.
- Mad Dog’s Coffee & Vinyl Cafe is a good record option if you’re north of Barrie, or planning a day trip out to Collingwood.
- Sonic More Records is Orillia’s record shop of choice, along with AlleyCats Music and Art.
Music Supply Stores
Music Pro is the go-to locally owned store for all your music supplies, from cords and adapters to guitars and full drum sets – this place has it all.
Barrie Uncovered Loves Local Music
What is it that brings people together in bars, cafes, and open mics to create such great music? Is it the comfort that comes from knowing the people in the crowd, or the creativity that springs from years of garage jamming? To those in the middle of a festival crowd, or standing by the stage of a live show, it doesn’t really matter how it happens.
Barrie Uncovered supports local talent and local businesses. If you have a Barrie area business with live music events and would like to be included in our ongoing coverage of the amazing music scene here in Simcoe County, contact us for more information.