Summer Times: the Nation’s 2017 tourism guide

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As the last of the snow melts, it’s time to plan how to take advantage of the warm weather and time away from work or school. There’s a plethora of activities available to Quebecers. So if you’re planning a few weekend trips to Montreal or Ottawa, or seeking entertainment around Abitibi-Témiscamingue and the regions surrounding the Cree Nation, we’ve once again put together a list of highlights for family fun and events for all ages taking place throughout summer 2017. Keep an eye out for upcoming information concerning this year’s powwow listings and fishing tournaments. Now that we’ve made it to May, summer is truly just around the corner.

Fun in Montreal

Museums Day

By the end of May Montreal is blooming as the city peels off its winter layers and prepares for summer festivals and fun in the sun. If you’d like an affordable family trip into town before things get too crazy, plan around Montreal’s Museums Day happening on Sunday, May 28. Almost all of the city’s 40-plus museums offer free admission along with a free shuttle service that takes you from one museum to another.

While the statues, paintings and prints housed at the museums of contemporary and fine arts might not be all that exciting for everyone, there are plenty of interactive attractions that promise a good time for all ages. Some suggestions: Grévin Montreal, the city’s wax museum, the Redpath Museum of natural science at McGill University that houses a few dinosaur skeletons, or the Science Centre in the Old Port. The Biodome, Planetarium, Botanical Garden and Insectarium all within walking distance of the Pie IX and Viau métro stations.

Montreal Grand Prix

From June 9-11, Formula One’s Montreal Grand Prix and all the festivities that come with it take over Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Parc Jean-Drapeau, as well as a large chunk of downtown between Peel and Crescent streets. While the massive crowds and noisy party-goers downtown can be a bit much, the race itself guarantees excitement for motor-sport enthusiasts.

F1 cars are the fastest road-racing cars in the world, reaching up to 375 km/h, and the Montreal Grand Prix gives you the chance to get up close and personal with the cars and their drivers. You’ll also run into automobile enthusiasts from around the globe who bring their fancy, souped-up rides to show them off throughout the weekend.

Formula 1

Beer Fest

The Festival mondiale de la bière, Montreal’s international beer festival, has been bringing together the finest brews from around the world for people 18 and up since 1994. More about tasting than consumption, the annual event at the Palais des congrès near the Place d’Armes métro station runs June 14-18 and will once again offer an outdoor terrasse. On top of whites, wheats, lagers, blondes, ambers, pilsners and IPA’s from big breweries and small craft producers alike (purchased with $1 tasting coupons), the five-day event boasts free admission, beer alternatives like cider and Twisted Tea as well as an excellent selection of pub food.

Folk Festival on the Canal

Celebrating its 10th anniversary June 14-18, the Montreal Folk Festival brings in big-name artists every year for a combination of big indoors shows around Montreal’s Southwest Borough and three days (Friday to Sunday) of free outdoor programming on the banks of the Lachine Canal. The outdoor element of Folk Fest is the perfect family outing, complete with bouncy castles, face painting, a kids’ stage, food trucks, boutiques and quality live music ranging from country to blues and folk rock to bluegrass. The event takes place on the Esplanade du Centenaire on the corner of Saint Patrick and Pitt streets and every year the festival teams up with Parks Canada to offer a night of camping on the canal.

National Aboriginal Day

While numerous events are planned in celebration of National Aboriginal Day on June 21, the Aboriginal People’s Television Network (APTN) recently announced an ambitious plan for what they’re calling Canada’s “largest National Aboriginal Day Celebration”.

Dubbed Aboriginal Day Live, APTN’s slogan for this year’s event is “Eight cities. One great gathering” as they will broadcast live online and on TV and radio with reporters on location in Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Yellowknife, Edmonton and Vancouver. The celebration in each city will feature free daytime activities followed by an evening concert with over 70 artists spread out across the stages in the eight locations.

Activities in Montreal get started at 11 am with a parade entry marching into Place des Arts’ Quartier des Spectacles, followed by cultural and musical performance, a sacred fire ceremony and a round dance. Emerging Indigenous artists will provide “pre-show entertainment” in the evening, from 5:30 to 6:45, setting the stage for an evening concert from 7:30 to 9:30 that will be streamed online. APTN says that the full lineup and details on the event will be announced in early May. Keep an eye out for the hashtag #ADL2017.

Buffy Sainte Marie performs National Aboriginal Day

Buffy Sainte Marie is one of the performers expected to play at Aboriginal Day Live

Fireworks Competition

Kicking off July 1 and closing on August 5, the International des Feux Loto-Québec features an international competition and a dazzling array of pyrotechnics scheduled every Saturday evening at 10 pm, with two Wednesday night shows mixed in July 19 and 26.

This year’s competition includes Italy, Poland, Germany, France, Portugal and England, with opening and closing shows organized by Montreal. You can take in the fiery, noisy, thematic displays free of charge from the Jacques Cartier Bridge and Notre Dame, east of the bridge, or spend a day at La Ronde amusement park and snag front-row seats. The projectiles are launched from Île Sainte-Hélène over the St. Lawrence River – get there early if you want a spot on the bridge.


Kahnawake Powwow

The Echoes of a Proud Nation Powwow will be hoping for better weather conditions at this year’s weekend cultural celebration in Kahnawake July 8-9. Last year the outdoor site on the banks of the Saint Lawrence River was mired in rain, which dancers, vendors and spectators bravely endured even though the bad weather resulted in a low turnout.

Now in its 27th year, the powwow offers an arts-and-crafts exposition, cultural food vendors, three grand entry parades, inter-tribal dance and hand drum competitions and plenty of other Mohawk ceremonies and traditions spread out over the two days of festivities. A $4 shuttle bus service is available to the site from the Angrignon métro station and admission costs $8 for the general public and $4 for seniors while children under 5 years old enter for free.

Just for Laughs

Montreal’s perennial comedy festival Just for Laughs is back July 12-31 with galas and themed shows, plus major comic headliners still to be announced. Hosting the Ethnic Show this year is Maz Jobrani with special guests Steve Byrne, Jessica Kirson, the Doo Wops, Mike Rita and Vlad Caamaño while the Nasty Show will feature Jimmy Carr, Robert Kelly, Godfrey and Big Jay Oakerson. Shows by Mike Birbiglia and John Mulaney are already on the schedule with major announcements and the full line-up to be released in the coming weeks.

Présence Autochtone

Montreal’s festival for all things Indigenous will set up in the Quartier des Spectacles and other venues around the city August 2-9. Over the course of eight days the First People’s festival features film screenings, live musical performances, cultural displays and Indigenous ceremonies under the sign of meeting and respecting differences. The full programming will be announced June 13.

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MONTREAL, QUE.: July 29, 2016-- Oh Wonder perform during the first day of the 2016 Osheaga Arts and Music festival at Parc Jean Drapeau on Friday July 29, 2016. (Tim Snow / EVENKO MANDATORY CREDIT)

Osheaga 2016 (Photo by Tim Snow)


Montreal’s multi-genre music festival that caters mainly to teens and young adults runs August 4-6 and brings its mix of rock, pop, hip-hop and electronic dance music to a new location this year. Since the city is breaking ground on a 65,000-capacity amphitheatre on Parc Jean-Drapeau’s Île Sainte-Hélène, which has hosted the event for 10 years, Osheaga takes over the Gilles Villeneuve racetrack and surrounding area on the neighbouring Île Notre-Dame. Perhaps festival-goers will have access to the Jean-Drapeau beach?

Notable artists at this year’s festival include Lorde, Justice and De La Soul, Muse, Major Lazer, Danny Brown, Solange and Cage the Elephant, The Weeknd, Alabama Shakes, Die Antwoord and Run the Jewels.

Pride Party

From August 11-20 Montreal’s LGBTQ Pride party will be bigger than usual, expanding to accommodate Canada Pride’s national event as well as Montreal’s anniversary celebrations. Place Émilie-Gamelin and Parc des Faubourgs will be the two hubs for outdoor activities while the Claude-Robillard sports complex will host a two-day sports tournament featuring badminton, rugby, soccer, tennis, volleyball and water polo August 12-13.

Other activities include a food fair, live outdoor concerts and a conference titled “LGBTTIQA2S Lives: Our struggles, our victories, our challenges”. The festivities conclude with the much-anticipated annual parade that will take on Ste-Catherine St. August 20.

Outside Montreal

While Montreal hosts many of the province’s cultural extravaganzas that attract global talent, there are all kinds of festivals and events elsewhere in Quebec that shouldn’t be missed.

Danse Encore

For those who love the sight and sound of dance, the Festival International de Danse Encore is back in Trois-Rivières June 8-11. For its 23rd edition, the festival will showcase over 150 dance acts or troupes from Canada, the US, Colombia, Spain and Japan. If you also want to tap your toes, the festival hosts several special dance parties for aficionados and first timers. There will be zumba and swing mega-parties as well as several dance competitions. Whether dance is your thing or you are just looking for a good time, this festival offers all sorts of gems.

Pikogan Powwow

Pikogan’s annual powwow is growing quickly, going from four or five drum groups in the first few years to a total of 13 in 2016. The sixth edition will be held June 10-11, hosting fun events on top of the grand entry, dancing, drumming, singing, traditional food and ceremony.

Saturday morning features a tciman (portage-to-canoe) race, followed by powwow activities from 1 pm to 9 pm with a magoshan (traditional feast) at 5. At 9:30 pm Saturday night there will be a multi-cultural jam session open to Natives and non-Natives alike, with each artist sharing a few of their own songs before joining together for a grand finale. Sunday morning will feature traditional strongman and strong-woman portage competitions before the powwow resumes at noon and concludes around 4 pm.


Kite Festival

Looking for family fun that’s bright and colourful? Then check out the Saint-Honoré Kite Festival. This growing event now features live entertainment along with children’s activities and championship kite flyers from all over the world. Running June 17-19, this year’s event features rock/blues act Jonas and the Massive Attraction, the eclectic Bodh’aktan, Pink Floyd tribute band The Black Side, and La Macchina Volante, a theatrical performance with kites and clowns.

Montebello Rockfest

Kick off your summer concert season in style at Montebello Rockfest June 22-25. This premier rock fest has become legendary in a matter of a few years. Mixing old school with new school, this year’s headliners include mega acts Rammstein, Queens of the Stone Age, Iggy Pop, At the Drive-In, Wu-Tang Clan, Megadeth, The Offspring, Bad Religion, AFI, The Specials, Eagles of Death Metal, 311, Messhuggah, Converge, Pennywise, Jello Biafra & The Guantanamo School, PUP and Lucero.

What makes this event even more magical are some of the accommodations available at hotels like the five-star Fairmont Le Château Montebello. If you prefer to rough it, there’s also plenty of camping available on-site and in private locations around town.

Walleye Festival

A favourite for Crees and many other Quebecers is the James Bay Walleye fishing tournament June 22-July 1. Featuring numerous categories for professionals, amateurs and local fishermen and women as well as trophies for fishers from the region and beyond. As this is an ongoing event that stretches into the holiday weekend, it always offers lots of live entertainment, including kids’ entertainers and family activities, for those camping at the site.


Blues Fest

Bringing bluesy tunes to the north this summer is the Festival de Blues du Plateau Boréal in Val-d’Or June 29-July 1. It will be a sizzling Canada Day weekend in “Sin City,” as some big-name blues players take to the stage. With Sugaray Rayford and Crystal Shawanda as headliners, this fest will feature numerous acts at eight different venues as well as an outdoor party scene that’s family friendly and has merchants and a fun atmosphere. Also featuring the Blackburn Brothers, Cécile Doo-Kingué, Shawn McPherson, Sons of Rhythm and Dwane Dixon, this is a weekend not to be missed.

Festival en chanson

The 10-day Festival en chanson de Petite-Vallée has been around for 35 years and is a celebration of francophone songs in the Gaspé region June 29-July 8. This onetime local musical competition has taken on a life of its own and become an event that attracts festival-goers from across the province and the rest of the country. This year features shows by Sarah Toussaint-Léveillé, Dumas, Amylie, Patrick Norman, Les Hôtesses d’Hilaire, Klô Pelgag, Les Soeurs Boulay and two special presentations by Vague de Cirque. There’s also a charity run to benefit the Fonds Dan-Gaudreau, a foundation that helps the youth in the region have access to culture and arts.

Festival d’humour

Running July 4-9, the Festival d’humour de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue in Val-d’Or offers all sorts of hilarious events aimed to please every audience. While this comedy fest was once solely in French, in recent years it has added English programming to appeal to anglophone visitors visiting the “Sin City” of the north. This year’s headliner performing in English will be veteran comic Mike Ward. Known for his bilingual act, Ward is a favourite both in Quebec and Canada.

Quebec City Festival d’été

Spread out over two weeks in Quebec City, the festival d’été brings a heavy hitting line-up to the provincial capital that blends French and English artists from all genres of music. A 50-year mainstay of summer activities in Quebec, this year’s edition will runs July 6 to 16 and features the likes of Kendrick Lamar, A Tribe Called Red, Metallica, Muse and the Who, just to name a few. While some of the concerts are free the vast majority require a festival pass that you can be had for only $95 for the full two weeks of shows.

Ottawa Bluesfest

Ottawa’s 10-day music festival keeps growing every year and attracting big-name artists from all around the world. Held on LeBreton Flats in downtown Ottawa, this year’s event runs July 6-16 and hosts artists on five different stages with musical genres ranging from country to EDM to hip hop. It’s a killer lineup that includes Toby Keith, 50 Cent, P!NK, LCD Soundsystem, Gary Clark Jr., A Tribe Called Red, Muse, Midnight Shine and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. There are even a few actual blues artists!


Tom Petty will close out the Ottawa Bluesfest this year.

Truck Rodeo

Running August 3-6, Abitibi’s Truck Rodeo, one of the biggest events of the north, brings together a wide variety of Mac Truck-related activities at which truckers compete against each other. Plus there’s a parade of trucks, truck displays, a market, a public mass for truckers and fireworks! Featuring daily entertainment, this is an event that’s not just for truckers and their families, but for everyone in the region to party, shop, socialize and worship trucks.

Festival du cochon

If you ever wanted to go to an event entirely devoted to pigs, this is the one. With greased pig competitions, a celebration of pork products and “hogs” of a different kind (i.e., motorcycles), the Festival du cochon de Sainte-Perpétue is a one-of-a-kind event in so many ways. Bringing together greased pig contests with motorcycle racing (because that somehow needed to happen), this event features the hog-tying of wild boars, greased pig obstacle courses for the whole family, tractor pulls and gourmet food. As the pork industry is huge in Quebec, this event has been around for 40 years but it’s only now becoming better known. It takes place August 3-6.


Western Festival

If you want to give summer once last kick at the can and do it “western style,” the annual Festival Western de St-Tite is the event to pick September 7-17. Featuring country music, a rodeo and leather trading (which was how this thing got started), this year’s headliners are Alabama and Dean Brody. There are also numerous Québécois country acts to enjoy and loads of rodeo classics to keep the cowboys and cowgirls entertained while sportin’ their Stetsons and shitkickers (cowboy boots). Besides western dancing and shopping for western gear, you can have your own western wedding at this event if you book far enough in advance and no, it doesn’t have to be to your cousin.


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