There’s no better time to discover the province of Quebec than in the summertime. During the sunny season, “la belle province” turns into a magnet for festivalgoers from around the world. From massive outdoor concerts featuring international celebrities, to arts events celebrating diverse cultures and to rodeo shows, there is much to choose from. The following festivities should be on everyone’s list:
Quebec City Summer Festival (July 7-July 17): Running strong since 1968, the Quebec City Summer Festival has grown into one of the biggest music festivals in the world. Spread over more than a dozen indoor and outdoor venues in the heart of historic Quebec City, it attracts 1.5 million visitors who gather to see more than 1,000 artists and close to 300 shows. Running for 11 days, the festival showcases an eclectic mix of music genres including rock, punk, hip hop, classical music, francophone music and world music. This year, Elton John will be among the headlining performers.
Montreal International Jazz Festival (June 25-July 4): The largest jazz festival on the planet for more than 30 years as confirmed by the Guinness World Records, the Montreal International Jazz Festival is a sure bet. With around 800 concerts (most of them free) and hundreds of activities, the festival draws over 2.5 million visitors annually to downtown Montreal’s Quartier des spectacles. Expect top-notch performances by artists from over 30 countries.
Divers/Cité Festival (July 25– July 31): A major cultural and artistic event of Montreal’s summer festival season, the Divers/Cité festival is an avant-garde LGBT multidisciplinary arts and music festival. Now in its 18th year, Divers/Cité offers mainly outdoor and free programming. It showcases modern dance, blues, jazz, pop, Latin, rock, world, funk, ambient, techno and electronic concerts, drag performances and an outdoor cinema.
Osheaga Music and Arts Festival (July 27-July 31): The Osheaga Music and Arts Festival is held just off the island of Montreal, on Île Ste-Hélène’s Parc Jean-Drapeau. This European-style festival aimed at promoting local talent (like the Sam Roberts Band and The Tragically Hip), alongside some of the music industry’s biggest names (such as Eminem and Elvis Costello, both performing this year).
Stay at a Montreal hotel for $99 per night over the dates of the festival.
Loto-Québec International Fireworks Competition (July 23-Aug. 10): A major international fireworks competition, the Loto-Québec International Fireworks Competition will take place at the dazzling Parc de la Chute-Montmorency, just 10 minutes from downtown Quebec City. Set against the backdrop of gorgeous waterfalls, master pyrotechnicians from five countries (Spain, Russia, Portugal, Mexico and Italy) will marvel onlookers with high-calibre fireworks set to music.
Mutek Festival (June 1-June 5): Dedicated to the promotion of electronic music and the digital arts, the Mutek Festival is a five-day event held annually in Montreal since 2000. The day and night programming includes indoor and outdoor performances, conferences and workshops.
Saint-Tite Western Festival (Sept. 9-Sept. 18): Head east to go west at Quebec’s biggest cowboy festival. An hour and a half north-east of Montreal, the Saint-Tite Western Festival has gained an international reputation. For 10 days out of the year, over 600,000 Western enthusiasts gather at Saint-Tite to take in rodeos and the biggest country dancing and music event in Quebec.