Festivals & Events in Montreal
Montreal has a bewildering variety of festivals, ranging from one-day ethnic fairs to huge international productions running two weeks or more. They are generally held in the summer and autumn, though increasingly they can be found throughout the year. Here are some of the larger ones:
- Just For Laughs Festival. Comedy festival with three main components: indoor paid shows (usually stand-up, but not always), free street theatre/comedy, and a mini film festival called Comedia. July.
- Shakespeare-in-the-Park. During the summer in parks around Montreal, Repercussion Theatre puts on outdoor performances of Shakespeare plays free of charge.
- Festival du Monde Arabe. In November, an annual festival celebrating the music and culture of the Arab world takes place in Montreal. Many Arab performers, traditional and modern, take the stage.
- Festival Mondiale de la bière. Annually, in early June: Five days of tasting beers, ciders, and other beverages from all over Quebec, Canada and further afield. 2004's event boasted over 340 different beers from 130 countries. There is no admission fee (but you can buy a souvenir sampling mug for about $8) and samples typically sell for three to four tickets ($1 a ticket) for a 150-200 ml sample. There are also scheduled musical performances and food kiosks. The festival can get very busy at peak times (Friday and Saturday evening of the event), so it is advisable to arrive early to avoid possible long queues.
- Montréal en lumière. A relatively new wintertime affair, attempting to transplant the city's festival magic to the cold season. Includes three main categories of activities: food and wine, performing arts, and free activities both indoor and outdoor. February.
- Montreal International Fireworks Competition, e-mail:[email protected]. In La Ronde amusement park (in Parc Jean-Drapeau), 514-397-2000. This fantastic festival features full-length fireworks displays, accompanied by orchestral music, by national teams from about a dozen countries around the world. Although the hot seats are inside the La Ronde theme park, the fireworks are visible from pretty much any clear space or rooftop in the centre of the city. Pedestrians can watch from Jacques Cartier Bridge, which is closed from 8PM on fireworks nights. Another good spot is the promenade west of the Old Port. $35–45 (seats in La Ronde, free everywhere else). Saturdays 10PM from mid-June to late July, plus Wednesdays 10PM from mid-July on.
- Fete de St-Jean-Baptiste. June 24 is Quebec's national holiday (Fête nationale). During the evening, a huge show takes place at Maisonneuve park. This is the show to go to hear Made-in-Quebec music. Free. Street parties can also be found all over the city.
- International Festival of Film on Art. Devoted to the promotion and presentation of the finest productions on art and media art. A ten-day competitive festival, it is the most important annual event of its kind in the world. FIFA has become a focal point for artists and artisans from the art and film communities, as well as for art and cinema enthusiast.
- Montreal International Jazz Festival. The world's largest jazz festival, this festival is a major international event, attracting many big name artists. Many streets in downtown Montreal are closed off to traffic for two weeks and several concert stages are set up. There are numerous free outdoor shows and indoor concerts (paid). Late June - early July.
- POP Montréal International Music Festival, . A massive feast of up-and-coming bands in a variety of popular genres. In early fall, host to more than 80 events, 300+ artists, a conference, an arts fair, and more! POP Montreal showcases emerging and innovative artists alongside rising international stars and is committed to encouraging vibrant indie communities.
- Francofolies. A festival celebrating French music. Similarly to the jazz festival, many free outdoor concerts are offered in a section of downtown that is closed off to traffic for a week. June.
- MUTEK. An annual gathering, held in Montreal, during the first week of June. The MUTEK festival showcases emerging forms of electronic music and the latest trends in sound creation.
- Heavy Montréal. Is billed as a two-day heavy music festival taking place in Parc Jean-Drapeau on Île Sainte-Hélène.
- Osheaga Music and Arts Festival. Is a three-day indie & alternative rock festival held annually in Parc Jean-Drapeau on Île Sainte-Hélène.
- Kinetik Industrial Music Festival [www.festival-kinetik.net/] — A Nonprofit organization founded by a partnership between KAO Production & [i] Prod to promote the North American Electro-Industrial-Noize scene holds this festival, which usually takes place from May 17 to 20.
- World Film Festival. The Festival is open to all cinema trends. The eclectic aspect of its programming makes the Festival exciting for the growing number of participants from the five continents. Every year, films from more than 70 countries, including well-known and first-time filmmakers alike, are selected. There are usually free outdoor projections every night. Late August to early September.
- Fantasia (Asian and fantasy). July.
- Image + Nation (gay and lesbian). September.
- Festival du nouveau cinéma de Montréal (new filmmakers, well-known auteurs, new media). October.
- Cinémania (French cinema with English subtitles). November.
- Les Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montréal(documentaries). November.
- Les Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois (Quebec cinema).February.