Here's my guide to the venues that host live music in Kingston.
This list is also meant for musicians, bands, and agents who are looking for the best places to book a gig between Toronto and Montreal. It's current as of April 2021.
Most nights its a party bar for Queens students. It's the largest nightclub in town so they get the bigger shows. Take a look at the Marquee above their door if you can't find listings online.
Local and out of town bands playing mostly rock and covers. Huge dance floor and lots of places to sit, too. Cozy front bar with TGIF drinks. Website
Kingston Brewing Co./(also known as the Brew Pub)
The Dragon's Lair on the second floor hosts 60 people. Its cozy, with a fireplace, stained glass, and a downtown view. Expect a ticketed folk, jazz, or blues event, or book a wedding or wake. One of the best places for craft beers, with a solid menu to boot. Website
Nice patio. Has hosted folk-rock acts with a local connection in the past. Not known as a music venue but is famous for being the brainchild of Zal Yanovsky of the Lovin Spoonful so it's notable on a music tour of Kingston. Website
Want to sit outside by the water and enjoy a White Mountain or Mio Gelato cone, while watching a local act have a blast playing for you? Plenty of room for kids to play and dogs are welcome too. Booked by Downtown Kingston.
(129 Wellington, top floor of the church)
A dry venue, with a sliding scale ticket price and a meal for a couple loonies. They hire talented local bands and the atmosphere is very welcoming. The public is warmly welcomed. Website
General Wolfe Hotel
Under new management, local musician Chris Brown is revitalizing this place and we can’t wait to see what happens this summer. On Wolfe Island, hosts indoor, outdoor, and virtual shows. Website
Features mostly Canadian independent artists, both well-known and up and coming. The venue's promoter is also founder and organizer of the Wolfe Island Music Festival. Accessible venue. Website
The City of Kingston's soft seater with a range of offerings from big names, Kingston Symphony performances, kid friendly acts, and comedy shows. The Baby Grand is their small, black-box stage. This is an accessible venue. Website
A 567 seat architectural wood paneled space, one of the most beautiful venues in town. Designed to be completely soundproof with motorized acoustic drapes for customized sound. Famous for classical shows but you could see an alt country or Polaris prize winner here too. High quality digital livestreams. Its an accessible venue. Worth a trip to Kingston to see it! Website
Local folk/rock/country acts have been known to play here, where you can have a great meal and watch the sunset. People have been known to jump off the dock directly off the patio on a hot summer day! On Wolfe Island. Website
A triple deck New Orleans Riverboat inspired showboat. It’s a tiny stage with a a big PA that goes through the whole boat. You might catch Spencer Evans and Mike Myers playing here, which would be a guaranteed party! Original home of the Rick Fondell Fun Band, oh the stories this boat could tell. Website
Huge arena with big touring acts of all genres. Get downtown early to find parking, and grab a meal at a local restaurant before heading over. Website
Sizable open-air patio where you will often see a Sunday afternoon band. Inside there are three floors, all of which have a stage. Easy to book for touring artists. Known for having a live act playing every night of the week. Website
From hosting weekly markets and film sets, to the Tragically Hip, an annual Blues Fest and free summer concerts, this square has seen it all. Watch Downtown Kingston Business Association or the City of Kingston twitter feed for updates.
Hint: Locals don't like to call it "Springer Market Square". Look for the Tragically Hip brick while you're there.
Waterfront restaurant through the week, house bands and local artists on the weekends. Seating for 150 people! Emily Fennell (Miss Emily) got her start here. Website
Tiny whiskey bar featuring music every evening. In summer, the music moves to a beautiful outdoor courtyard. Music styles run from folk, rock, blues, country, and jazz. Website
Italian fine dining. Intimate venue where you can catch top notch, local jazz acts - from Chanteuses to clarinet players! Website
West end venue. Hosts tribute acts and nostalgic reunion tours (especially rock and metal), second floor. Website
West end venue. Hosts commercial country/rock/80s cover bands, venue’s focus is on the pool tables. Website
Riverhead Brewing Company
Open Mic! Signups at Riverhead from 6-7 Open Mic from 7-9 every Tuesday, craft beers. Website
RCHA Club (the Standeasy)
One of the few places you’ll see top level blues acts from the US and Canada. Large dance floor, 2nd floor elevator access and ...take your hat off at the door! Website
Spearhead Brewing Company
Open Mic! Starting at 7pm and hosted by local legend Scotty, no sign-up, craft beers. Website
Party bar, nightclub, Queen's student favourite. Over the years has been the host of a number of fundraisers and the occasional big name tour. Website
Small pub, enormous vibe. Local and out of town live music typically featuring rock, funk, and indie styles. Think Ian Blurton and the Mahones. I used to run a hip hop DJ night here. Best bartenders in town! Website
The "WIPP" (Wolfe Island Pub and Pizzeria)
In addition to hosting musical acts from the area, they’ve been known to host a Queer Karaoke with a loyal following. On Wolfe Island, right across from the summer ferry dock. Website
Electric Circuits Festival
A two-day festival of electronic music, performance and digital art. International artists, audio/visual collaborations, and psychedelic moments. Website
Homegrown Music Festival
Grab a bracelet at any venue for this fundraiser for Joe's MILL (Music Instrument Lending Library). Catch all your favourite local acts in showcases from genres ranging from blues to jazz to alternative. Regularly held in May, but looks like it might be October 2021. Website
Kingston Multicultural Festival
A one day outdoor festival on Ontario Street and Confederation Basin with musical acts and food pavilions representing diverse cultural organizations in Kingston. Website
Limestone City Blues Festival
In Market Square and a number of local venues, one bracelet gets you in to see dozens of local and regional blues acts over a weekend. Booked via Downtown Kingston. Website
Back to the Farm Beer & Music Festival
At the MacKinnon Brothers farm, "a big old field party" where you can wander around drinking craft beer, eating from food trucks, and listening to great music. Sells out early! Website
Skeleton Park Arts Festival
Downtown, week long, free, grassroots, interdisciplinary arts festival. Features the popular Porch Jazz parade (partnered with local Jazz Society) and the original home of Drag Queen Storytime. Great place to see indie artists, Polaris-nominees, and kid friendly acts as well as up and coming local artists.
Hint: It's called McBurney Park on the map
Tone Deaf is Kingston, Ontario’s annual festival of adventurous sound performance. Over 18 years strong, with big draws. Our very own Dan Darch is one of the main organizers! Website
Wolfe Island Music Festival
A local indie music festival with big names and local acts, I used to help run the backstage BBQ here. Run by the legendary Virginia Clark of Flying V Productions. Website
Women's Art Festival
A local craft fair in the park with hundreds of women-led art booths, food vendors, and a stage featuring only female musicians. Free to attend. Website
Notable promoters: Kingston Punk Productions, Flying V, Livewire, etc
Notable rehearsal spaces: Roswell Rehearsals, 12 Cat, G.R.I.P., etc
Email me if you'd like to help with a writeup of these new sections!
Did I miss your venue or festival? Let me know and I'll update the list!