While there’s an argument to be made that Montréal’s festival season is more of a 365-days-a-year situation, there does come a point when a wave of major festivals – like Osheaga, the Montreal Jazz Festival, Just For Laughs, MUTEK and Nuits D’Afrique – suddenly appears on the horizon. That point is now. To help you ride it out in style, we offer you our annual Montréal summer festival guide.
Festival TransAmériques (FTA) (May 25 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 11th edition of the FTA also aims to foster dialogue through a stimulating range of workshops, debates and roundtable discussions. This year, an expanded fest will see 27 performances – including nine world premieres and 11 North American premieres – presented over 15 days at 20 different cultural venues.
Fringe Festival (May 29 to June 18) The Montréal Fringe Festival (known as “the party Fringe” on the Fringe circuit) turns 27 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. The nightly “13th Hour” variety show/dance party ensures that the Fringe lives up to its reputation, as does the highly anticipated Drag Races competition, hosted by famously fabulous drag queen Mado Lamotte.
MUTEK (August 22-27) Over 150 multi-sensory events and adventures are scheduled at this year’s world-renowned MUTEK festival, which this year reaches age of majority with its 18th trailblazing edition. For an expanded six days at a new time of year, MUTEK will again be promoting artists and innovators at the forefront of electronic music, digital creativity, technology and live performance at venues throughout the Quartier des Spectacles (including a free outdoor stage).
Elektra (June 28-July 9) 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. Want to see how amazingly crazy it’s going to be this year? Watch this.
Montreal Folk Festival on the Canal (June 14-18) 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, which celebrates 10 years this year, 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 8-18) Eye-catching doesn’t even begin to describe the work this celebration of urban art and graffiti produces each year. For its fifth year, the Mural Festival will invite 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. And new this year is the Mural app, which you can download here.
Grand Prix du Canada (June 9-11) Montréal revs up for the fastest fun in the country when hundreds of thousands show up for this top-tier racing event. And this year has extra traction since we’ll be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the inaugural Canadian Grand Prix. The good times will be rolling 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. To celebrate the city’s 375th, there will be a special nine-hour free concert featuring several big artists on the fest’s closing day, June 18, starting at 3 pm.
L’International des Feux Loto-Québec (July 1 to August 5) World-class pyrotechnicians representing their respective countries are invited to participate in this competition. The best spot to watch the fireworks is from the grandstands at La Ronde where you’ll see them take off from Lac des Dauphins. This year, a special programme is being prepared for the July 1 opening in honour of the city’s 375th as well as the 50th anniversary of La Ronde.
MONTRÉAL COMPLÈTEMENT CiRQUE (July 6-16) 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 28 to July 8) 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 350 free outdoor shows.
Festival International Nuits D’Afrique (July 11-23) 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 12-31) 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. Among the big stars shining this year are Kevin Hart, Trevor Noah and Seinfeld.
Fantasia International Film Festival (July 13 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 at this 21st edition, as well as numerous associated conferences and industry/social functions.
Osheaga Music and Arts Festival (August 4-6) 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 12th edition will again deliver the best in rock, pop, hip-hop, indie music and more. This year’s headliners include Lorde, Muse and The Weeknd.
Heavy Montréal (N/A) Heavy Montréal is unconditional in its love of heavy music: death metal, hair metal, black metal, hard rock and hardcore all enjoy equal attention. This year, the fest will take a break, returning on July 28-29, 2018.
ÎleSoniq (August 10-12) 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 Tiësto, Porter Robinson, Afrojack plus many, many more.
Fashion and Design Festival (August 21-26) This major outdoor event at Quartier des Spectacles, in the heart of downtown Montréal, features approximately 50 shows with as many 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.
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