The 18th annual North By Northeast Festival (June 11 to 17) promises to be one of the biggest yet, with 650 bands playing over seven days at venues all over the city. For the complete experience, you'll want a festival wristband ($50) that gets you into any venue or film screening without paying a cover.
Even if you're flat broke, the free outdoor shows at Yonge-Dundas Square are packed with talent like space rock icons the Flaming Lips (June 16, pictured), veteran Wu-Tang Clan rappers Raekwon and Ghostface Killah (June 17), So-Cal pop-punk pioneers Bad Religion (June 14) and Canadian alt-pop institution Matthew Good (June 15).
The real point of festivals like this is to discover new music, though, and the sheer number of amazing acts hitting clubs that week can be overwhelming. For an in-depth look at festival highlights, the first massive NOW NXNE preview issue hits the street June 7, with a second giant guide coming the next week (June 14) as well.