We don’t know everything, but we know how to do a few things really well in Montréal, and two of them are festivals – like Osheaga, Fantasia, the Montreal Jazz Festival and Just For Laughs – and time off. And like wine and cheese, those two things happen to pair up really well. With this in mind, and with summer vacation time on the horizon, we offer you our Montréal summer festival guide.
Chromatic (May 19-22) Chromatic is a celebration of Montréal imagination situated in the Old Port’s historic Hangar 16. The program features an eclectic range of arts – visual, digital, performance, interactive and more –at events including concerts, exhibitions, screenings, workshops, parties and activities for all ages. Both Montréal and Toronto talents will be teaming up for this seventh edition.
Festival TransAmériques (FTA) (May 26 to June 8) The Festival TransAmériques (FTA) celebrates new works in contemporary dance and theatre. Showcasing both established and emerging artists, choreographers, writers and directors, this tenth edition of the FTA also aims to foster dialogue through a stimulating range of workshops, debates and roundtable discussions.
Fringe Festival (May 30 to June 19) The Montréal Fringe Festival (known as “the party Fringe” on the Fringe circuit) turns 26 this year with some 800 performances featuring over 500 artists (theatre, dance, music, comedy, magic and more) at more than 20 venues around the Plateau Mont-Royal and Mile End. And the nightly “13th Hour” variety show/dance party ensures that the Fringe lives up to its reputation.
MUTEK (June 1-5) Over 150 multi-sensory events and adventures are scheduled at this year’s world-renowned MUTEK festival. For five days, MUTEK will again be promoting artists and innovators at the forefront of electronic music, digital creativity, technology and live performance.
Elektra (June 1-5) Elektra is a yearly digital arts festival showcasing new creations in electronic music, video, cinema, performance, design, gaming and interactive installation in combination with the innovative use of new technology, especially digital technologies.
Montreal Folk Festival on the Canal (June 15-19) When the Montreal Folk Festival on the Canal was born in 2008, it was a one-day event that drew 500 folk faithful. The event was such a hit – it’s picturesque park placement along Montréal’s historic Lachine Canal didn’t hurt any – that it now draws close to 10,000 for five days of folk, roots and bluegrass featuring both emerging artists and folk royalty.
Mural Festival (June 9-19) Eye-catching doesn’t even begin to describe the work this celebration of urban art and graffiti produces each year. For its fourth year, the Mural Festival has invited 20 artists to create large-scale art on the sides of many Plateau Mont-Royal buildings. Block parties, film screenings, installations and other performance and festive events are also part of the fun.
F1 Grand Prix du Canada (June 10-12) Montréal revs up for the fastest fun in the country when hundreds of thousands show up for this top-tier racing event. And the good times roll off-track as well: numerous neighbourhood streets are closed for special family-friendly F1 events, restaurants shift kitchens into high gear and nights are alive with celeb-studded parties.
Les Francofolies de Montréal (June 9-18) Les Francos celebrate the diversity and quality of musical offerings from the international Francophonie. At an average of 70 indoor shows and 180 free outdoor shows, the wide world of French pop, rock, blues, jazz, world music and more can be yours.
L’International des Feux Loto-Québec (July 2-30) World-class pyrotechnicians representing their respective countries are invited to participate in this competition. The best spot to watch thefireworks is from the grandstands at La Ronde. You’ll see them take off from Lac des Dauphins and illuminate the night sky.
MONTRÉAL COMPLÈTEMENT CiRQUE (July 7-17) Montréal will be showing off at major, multidisciplinary circus arts festival COMPLÈTEMENT CiRQUE. The 11-day indoor/outdoor fest unites Montréal’s key circus companies as they highlight world-class local talent alongside ground breaking international guests.
The Montréal International Jazz Festival (June 29 to July 9) With over 1,000 concerts and activities, it’s no wonder the Guinness Book of World Records declared it the largest jazz festival in the world. The Montréal International Jazz Festival will once again overwhelm the downtown Quartier des Spectacles this year with hundreds of concerts representing numerous genres including some 300 free outdoor shows.
Festival International Nuits D’Afrique (July 12-24) Montréal’s much-loved Nuits D’Afrique world music festival brings the best of African and African-influenced music from some of the biggest names in the game at numerous indoor and free outdoor shows. Past performers have included Youssou N’Dour, Angelique Kidjo, Omar Sosa and Papa Wemba.
Just For Laughs Comedy Festival (July 13-31) Just For Laughs (the world’s largest comedy fest) and its associated industry conference brings both A-List comedians and next-generation up-and-comers to its galas and club shows. Its sprawling outdoor site in the Quartier des Spectacles is also a daily hive of family-friendly entertainment opportunities.
Fantasia International Film Festival (July 14 to August 2) Premiere magazine called it “one of the most exciting genre film festivals in the world,” and the approximately 125,000 festivalgoers who attend Fantasia’s 150-plus films every year would be among the first to agree. Underground, international and retro films in the realms of horror, fantasy, sci-fi and much more are on offer as well as numerous associated conferences and industry/social functions.
Osheaga Music and Arts Festival (July 29-31) Osheaga is a truly exceptional, world-class outdoor music and arts experience that takes place in picturesque Parc Jean-Drapeau on Ile Ste-Hélène across from Montréal’s Old Port. This year’s 11th edition will again deliver the best in rock, pop, indie music and more. This year’s headliners include the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lana Del Ray and Radiohead.
Heavy Montréal (August 5-7) Heavy Montréal is unconditional in its love of heavy music: death metal, hair metal, black metal, hard rock and hardcore all enjoy equal attention. And this year’s lineup is (head)banging with the likes of Five Finger Death Punch, Disturbed, Nightwish and Volbeat, to name a few, also at Parc Jean-Drapeau.
ÎleSoniq (August 5-6) And a completely different kind of Parc life will spring into action for the third edition of wildly popular electronic dance and urban music festival ÎleSoniq, which brings out 40,000 beat-happy partiers. Spectacular, state-of-the-art special effects will overload your circuits to the sounds of headliners Zedd and Skrillex, plus many, many more.
Fashion and Design Festival (August 15-20) This major outdoor event at Quartier des Spectacles, in the heart of downtown Montreal, presenting 50 shows, as much as 300 participants and 550,000 visitors expected. This one-of-a-kind occasion provides an inside look at the world of fashion and design through activities like fashion shows, live creative sessions, film screenings, tons of conferences, design showcases and musical performances.
Up next: Where to hear live music in Montréal
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