I’m headed to Montreal next weekend for the first time ever, and I’m stoked! Not only will my visit be in the heart of the summer and during a historic time for Montreal, with the city’s 375th birthday this year, there are tons of festivals (many of them are free) and activities available all throughout Quebec for all ages.
In honor of Canada Day today, allow me to share some free festivals happening in Montreal and other areas of Quebec over the next few months. Since there is a lot going on during my visit, I’m going to challenge myself to experience as many of these festivals as I can.
- Jazz: Festival International de Jazz de Montréal : June 28-July 8
The 38th annual International Jazz festival in Montreal this year just started, and I’m excited to check it out next weekend. The world’s largest jazz festival runs in downtown Montreal from June 28-July 8 and features over 500 concerts on 20 stages—2/3 of them which are entirely free. Here’s a look at the free outdoor program.
- Circus: Montréal Complètement Cirque : July 6-16 2017
This is the festival that I am most excited to experience during my visit. Those who know me know that I am a huge Cirque du Soleil fan, and I’m completely fascinated by acrobatic, aerial, trapeze, and all other talented circus performances. I hear the Montreal cirque scene blows everything out of the water. During the 11-day festival, there are a number of free performances all over the city, where circus artists from all over the world will descend on Montreal parks, streets, rooftops, balconies, and venues with colorful and interactive performances. Cirque Fest definitely looks and sounds pretty extraordinary!
- Comedy: Just for Laughs : July 12-31 2017
If you want a good laugh and enjoy some comedy, there’s the “Just for Laughs” festival also going on in July. In addition to paid performances, there’s a “Street festival” version of Just For Laughs, which features free entertainment from many comedic acts.
Additionally during this time (July 15-30), there’s also a food festival called “Bouffons Montréal“. While there is a cost for food, access the to site is free to check out and explore.
- Fireworks: International des Feux Loto-Québec : July 1st to August 5th (Saturdays and a few Wednesdays)
This festival is one of Montréal’s summer classics. The competitive firework shows are presented in a Six Flags Theme park on an island just outside Montréal (La Ronde), but they’re visible from all over the city. Here is a great article about the best places to watch the fireworks in the city (a few are free, including Pont Jacques-Cartier, closed every fireworks night).
- Pride: Pride Montréal : August 10-20, 2017
- Fashion: Festival Mode & Design : August 21-26 2017
The Place des Festivals (where the Jazz, Just for Laughs and many others take place) is becoming an outdoor fashion show this summer! If you’re into the fashion scene, this seems like a really fun free event to check out. They’ll be a huge catwalk, fashions pop ups, etc. The program will be unveiled soon, but will include lots of free events for all.
- Music: Rythmes du monde de Saguenay : August 3-12, 2017
If you’re headed north of Montreal, there’s a fun music festival taking place in Downtown Saguenay, featuring a lot of free concerts and performances.
- Fireworks: Grands Feux Loto-Québec : July 22 – August 23, 2017 (Wednesdays and Saturdays)
If your plans take you to Quebec City this summer, there’s an entirely-free fireworks festival on the Saint-Lawrence river that looks lovely.
- Blues: Festival de Blues de Tremblant : July 7-16, 2017
North west of Montreal, in Tremblant, there is a large Blues festival happening in July featuring over a hundred shows (most of them are free). A complete schedule of the free performances can be found here.
- Western: Festival Western de St-Tite : September 7-17, 2017
Two hours north of Montreal, one of the largest western festivals in Canada celebrates its 50thanniversary this year. St-Tite is a small town of only 2,000 people, but during the 10-day Western Festival in September, it grows to… 600,000 people! There are paid activities (including a few shows and the rodeos), but access to the festival site is free, and there are a lot of free activities listed on the schedule.
I’m really excited to visit vibrant Montreal during such a lively time this summer, and I’m looking forward to experiencing some of these free festivals myself.
Have you been to any of summer Quebec festivals before? Would love to hear some feedback!
Happy Canada Day (and 150th anniversary) to all Canadian readers!