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]

NXNE began in 1995, patterned on the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.[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.


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.


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.

Sketchy is the unofficial mascot of NXNE (since 2005).


  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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