Party your way through the summer of Montreal
Danger! Summer in Montreal can be incredibly addictive. Since summer doesn’t last forever, (In the case of Montréal, it’s usually two months long.) Montréalers know there’s no time to waste and they are more determined than anyone to make the best out of it. How exactly do they do it? Oui, by putting on a marathon of festivals. And, boy, they do know how to party.
While I was there this summer, the whole town was tuned into a party mode. The make-shift stages, the cordoned-off outdoor venue, and the all-around security staff. No matter where you are in the city, the energy is palpable, and sometimes, even in your face.
What I love most about the festivals in Montréal is that they manage to include everyone, and I mean EVERYONE in the fun. Other than the ticketed events, most of the festivals host free outdoor events that are open to the public. If you’re in town during that time of the year, be sure to join the crowd and embrace the fun. Be forewarned though, if you want to get the most out of a smorgasbord of events, schedule your itinerary according to the calendar. The leaflets are usually available at the information booths and box offices in and around place-des-arts.
International Jazz Festival (End of June- Mid-July)
Said to be as the biggest and the best on the planet, International Jazz Festival draws a plethora of musicians (the event is no longer limited to jazz) from all around the world.
Although the major headlining acts are limited to the paying audience only, there are plenty of free gigs held outdoors on a daily basis throughout the festival. They even put up tents for free music lessons.
Loto-Québec Feux d’Artifice (Late June to Late July)
Every Wednesday and Saturday throughout the frenetic weeks, the night sky of Montréal is lit up with dazzling sparks that come in all shapes and sizes. Sponsored by Loto Québec, the event is actually an international competition where all the famed pyro-technicians converge and vie for the much coveted prize. The last display is the ensemble efforts put together by each competing countries. The best place to see the fireworks is from La Ronde, the theme park on the island St. Helene, where the firework is set off. But, unless you want to pay 25-30 bucks every time, grab your beach towel and see the fireworks from under the Jacques Cartier Bridge for free. (Take the métro and get off at Papineau, then walk toward the bridge or simply follow the crowd.)
Juste pour rire (June)
Just for laughs is no doubt the most reputable comedy festival in the world. Even if you can’t afford to pay up, (Prices for a comedy show may range from 100- 300 Canadians dollars.) there is a bevy of free spectacles to keep you smiling, including artists improvisation, puppets parade, and the Week-end des Jumeaux, where thousands of twins decked out in costume and walk the street in the Latin Quarter.
Les Francofolies (Late July-Early August)
Imported from France, Les Francofolies is a music festival that last approximately a week. As the name suggests, this is like any other major music festival, except that it’s all in French. French pop music lovers will be delighted with the star-studded line- up. This year, Camille, Elle, and Raphael were there. Of course, there are plenty of outdoor gigs as well.
It’s simply impossible to include all the events. Apart from the aforementioned, there are Canada Day Parade, Oshega, Les weekends du Monde, International Film Festival of Montréal, and the list just goes on. [more]
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