The North By Northeast (NXNE) music festival will be returning to Yonge-Dundas Square in the heart of downtown Toronto from June 8 to 17, 2018, after two years at Port Lands on the city’s edge. Now approaching its 24th year, the festival underwent a considerable overhaul in 2016, during which it moved away from its original downtown location, and founder Michael Hollett continues to make adjustments.
The outdoor programming at Yonge-Dundas Square will be right across the street from the famed CF Toronto Eaton Centre shopping mall, along a recently-redeveloped stretch of Yonge Street that the City of Toronto deems its version of Times Square. NXNE will transform Yonge Street into a “festival village” throughout the weekend to host free concerts, NXNE talk sessions and comedy shows.
“We always loved presenting great free live music at Yonge and Dundas, but it became difficult to fit everyone and everything into the Square,” Hollett told Billboard in an email. “We’re coming back and are incorporating the street itself into the event. We’re not just spilling onto the street, it’s part of the event’s design.”
Meanwhile, NXNE’s live eSports event Game Land, which debuted last year, will be held next year from June 8 to 10 at an indoor location “where it will work better and we can deliver a stellar event with seamless, state-of-the-art tech,” Hollett said.
This year, the Port Lands site will not be used in any capacity, after the location was the subject of backlash from attendees the past two years. “Obviously, our fans have been very clear, they have missed the special excitement of attending free live music on Canada’s busiest, most famous street corner and we have listened,” said Hollett, in response to the Port Lands setting.
In addition, NXNE will expand its Club Land Curator Series — showcases put together throughout the city at dozens of venues and clubs by leading Canadian musicians — throughout the week.
“I couldn’t be happier,” Hollett continued. “There was always something magical presenting great, free shows at what has been the historic epicenter of music in Canada. I’m a Toronto kid and always associate that area with music because I’d hop the bus downtown to hit the record stores there and gaze longingly into clubs I was too young to get into. It’s where Bob Dylan discovered The Band — and where NXNE has presented historic shows and where we will again.”