Hamilton’s emerging arts community has concentrated around James Street North in recent years, with a monthly ArtCrawl among the block’s many attractions. The annual Supercrawl festival sprang from this scene in 2009, showcasing some of the best local artists while also bringing international acts to the city for a free, weekend-long outdoor celebration every September. Since then, Supercrawl has grown from occupying a single block to taking over 2 kilometres of downtown streets, with over 250,000 music lovers now attending annually.
In recent years, festival-goers have seen acts such including local legends Terra Lightfoot, Junior Boys and B.A. Johnston, Canadian icons Broken Social Scene, Tanya Tagaq, PUP, Daniel Lanois and Owen Pallett, and international performers Charles Bradley, Four Tet and Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, the last of whom delivered an emotional performance in 2015 where she announced that her cancer had returned. In advance of the festival's 2016 edition, Supercrawl hosted Welcome to Hamilton, a benefit show for displaced Syrian youth settling in Hamilton, headlined by New York-based indie rock band the National and featuring performances by Hayden, Kevin Drew and Arkells’ Max Kerman.
The festival has received a number of accolades, including the Ontario Tourism Award of Excellence for Tourism Event of the Year in 2015.