North by Northeast

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For North-northeast and related compass directions, see Points of the compass.
North by Northeast (NXNE)
Stars NXNE Toronto 2011.jpg
North by Northeast 2011 in Yonge-Dundas Square Toronto on June 17, 2011.
Location(s) Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Years active 1995–present

North by Northeast (or NXNE) is an annual music and arts festival held each June in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The festival’s main focus has always been live music, but it also includes a film festival, a comedy festival, art components, and a digital interactive media conference. In 2014, NXNE marked its 20th consecutive year with over 1,000 music performers and an overall attendance of 350,000.[1] The 2015 edition of NXNE ran for five days, June 17–21.[2] This NXNE runs June 13–19 and has added a significant video gaming component. Gaming will be among the topics discussed at NXNE's one day Interactive conference, Wednesday June 15 at Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Business in downtown Toronto at Bay and Dundas, steps away from Yonge Dundas Square. Yonge Dundas Square will again feature live music during NXNE from Thursday June 16 to Saturday June 18. But it will also spotlight video-gaming including the chance to play on a giant screen in the Square as well as E-Sports where top video game players compete against each other with live play-by-play commentary.

Also new in 2016, NXNE has added a dedicated festival site for a two-day festival event June 17–18 in Toronto's Port Lands area at 51 Commissioners St. This will be a ticketed event featuring top bands including: SchoolboyQ, Father John Misty, Ghostface Killah, Mother Mother and more.

NXNE began in 1995, patterned on the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. In fact, SXSW are minority ownership partners in NXNE.[3] It has since grown from a three-day discovery festival of mainly local, unsigned, independent artists into a marquee event on Toronto’s entertainment calendar and a cornerstone of North America’s annual festival circuit. Top acts this year include: SchoolboyQ, Father John Misty, Ghostface Killah, Kamasi Washington, Pere Ubu, Daniel Ceasar and many more.


Purity Ring performs during NXNE 2012.

Each year, NXNE Music presents hundreds of bands from Canada, the United States and all over the world at over 50 Toronto music venues. Most venues host six bands a night (from 9 p.m. onward). The festival takes over Toronto’s downtown core, with many venues grouped along Queen Street West, College Street, and the Bloor Street Annex. NXNE Music is recognized as a key platform for emerging artists, and as an opportunity for fans to see hotly tipped “buzz bands” at small club venues. With the addition of a series of free outdoor concerts at Yonge-Dundas Square in downtown Toronto, NXNE in recent years has also presented as part of the festival internationally famous headline acts such as The Flaming Lips, Ludacris, Devo, Iggy and the Stooges, Billy Talent, Social Distortion, Raekwon & Ghostface Killah, De La Soul, Bad Religion, The Squids, Stars, The Pharcyde, The Raveonettes, GZA, Descendents, Digable Planets, K-os, and more.


The NXNE Interactive Conference (also known as NXNEi) takes place at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on King Street, which also serves as NXNE headquarters during the festival. Originally conceived as a music-industry event (past guests include Stewart Copeland, The Sex Pistols' Johnny Rotten, Steve Earle, Bruce Cockburn, Peaches, Patti Smith, Thomas Dolby, The Rolling Stones' Andrew Loog Oldham, and Bullmoose), the conference in recent years has re-oriented itself as Interactive (NXNEi) – its presentations and panels focused on the integration of technology with creativity in music, film, and other art forms. There is a growing business and networking component to NXNEi, which fosters a professional environment where hundreds of delegates, including musicians, filmmakers, and industry reps, can connect with digital innovators and tech leaders. This year the conference is a one-day event Wednesday, June 15 at Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Business at Bay and Dundas in downtown Toronto steps from NXNE's Yonge Dundas site. Atari founder, often called the godfather—or grandfather—of video games, Nolan Bushnell, will be the conference's keynote speaker.


A film festival was added in 2001 to run concurrently with the music festival. Films are primarily music-related features, documentaries and shorts. NXNE Film has screened films by directors such as Stewart Copeland (of rock band The Police), Don Letts, Guy Maddin, and Rob Heydon, and has hosted many world premieres, including Bruce McDonald's Broken Social Scene concert film, This Movie Is Broken, in 2010.[4]


For 2013, NXNE added comedy as a fourth stream, formally recognizing the growing number of standup, sketch, and improvisatory comics taking part in the festival since 2010.[5]


NXNE added art as its fifth stream in 2013. Its inaugural year included exhibits, projections, installations, and performances across the city, as well as an art fair.[6]


NXNE is largely a volunteer-staffed music festival, with the 2012 event activating over 1,000 volunteers in festival operations. The dedication and enthusiasm of NXNE volunteers caught the eye of Andrew Loog Oldham (the 2002 keynote speaker), who remarked that NXNE volunteers reminded him of why he originally entered the music business.

The alternative weekly newspaper Now is a major sponsor, and its owners hold an ownership interest in the festival.


  1. ^ "Information". NXNE, November 21, 2013.
  2. ^ "NXNE". NXNE, November 21, 2014.
  3. ^ Lackner, Chris (June 10, 2004). "Toronto's North by Northeast festival in its 10th year of keeping dreams alive", Canadian Press.
  4. ^ "This Interview About This Movie Is Broken Is Also Broken". Torontoist, June 17, 2010.
  5. ^ "Comedy". NXNE, August 21, 2012.
  6. ^ "Art". NXNE, November 21, 2013.

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