The 2017 Montreal festivals you just can’t miss

by Maria Barillaro

What better way to celebrate the city’s 375th anniversary than by visiting one of our annual festivals? From the arts, to music, to laughs, this year is chock-full of exciting and entertaining activities to awaken your passion for culture, diversity, and artistic talent. Read on to find out which festivals are coming up this year and why you can’t afford to miss ‘em.

The 2017 Montreal festivals you just can’t miss

Montreal Digital Spring

March 21 to June 21
A hub for artistic talent, it’s no surprise Montreal is hosting a festival dedicated to the celebration of the arts from the end of March until the end of June. The festival includes plays like Mira, The Little Star at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, an interactive visual arts exhibition at the Oboro, and even an exhibit that allows guests to participate in the creation of an audio-visual production at the Société des Arts Téchnologiques. All focused on the deep exploration and celebration of the city’s wide range of talented citizens, this imaginative, out-of-the-box festival is suitable for adults and children, locals and tourists. Bonus: some of the festival attractions are free of charge, too!

 

Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival

April 24 to 30
If you appreciate the beauty of the written word – or want to get your children to develop a love of literature – this extraordinarily unique festival needs to be on your spring to-do list. This week-long event will feature writing workshops, debates, storytelling, a yoga and poetry hour, and meet-and-greets with local authors like Véronique Drouin, André Marois, and Caroline Merola, to name a few. They will take place at various libraries around the city so no matter where you live on the island, you’ll be able to attend some of these literary events. The best part is that all these amazing events are free.

Chromatic

May 24 to June 1
Art and creativity are synonymous with this city. From the multi-coloured windows at the Palais des Congrès to the world-class art galleries and museums, Montreal is a city that lives and breathes ingenuity, creativity, and passion. This week-long festival includes exhibits, conferences, and interactive workshops to unlock your imagination and feed your love for culture. Art buffs will revel in the experience of this unique event, dedicated to both art and culture. Though the festival mainly targets artistic professionals, tickets are open to anyone who wants to deepen their knowledge of the arts and passion for creativity.

Francofolies de Montréal

June 8 to 18
The 29th Francofolies de Montréal
One of the many great performances to look forward to is Pierre Lapointe’s “Amours, délices et orgues” an encounter combining songs, design and dance. Also on the menu, an extra long-awaited programme with Louis-Jean Cormier and Martin Léon. In short: from Corneille to Katerine via Fanny Bloom, Éric Lapointe, Safia Nolin and Les Ogres de Barback, you’ll find something here for you.

Mondial de la bière

June 14 to 18
The arrival of summer is to be celebrated, and what better way to do that than head down to the esplanade of the Palais des Congrès in downtown Montreal to enjoy the 24th Mondial de la Bière from Wednesday 14 to Sunday 18 June? As always, admission is free and you pay for the beers you choose in coupons. And it’s the perfect place for tasting, in moderation of course! There are also several food counters. This is one of the largest festivals of its kind in North America. Cheers!

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Festival international de Jazz de Montréal

June 28 to July 8
Two million people from around the globe come to enjoy this now world-renowned music festival. For 12 days, you can enjoy jazz, blues, and reggae music at various venues around the city. Musicians come from far and wide to take part in this spectacular celebration of music, with performances everywhere from large concert halls to quaint cafés. There are over 500 performances throughout the festival and most of them are actually completely free. This is a musical experience that anyone in and around the city absolutely must experience. And with this year being the city’s 375th anniversary, you can be sure to expect an impressive list of performers and musical shows that will blow you away.

Just for Laughs

July 15 to 30
A festival locals and tourists wait for every year, this hilarious event hosts some of the biggest names in comedy from around the world. While comedy shows run throughout the year, Just For Laughs also features Crowd Pleasers, a collection of outrageously witty and hilarious acts, as well as interactive shows. (So you might want to think twice about getting a seat in the front row!)

Montreal First People’s Festival

August 2 to 9
Known for their deeply rooted culture, rich in symbolism and meaning, this festival is devoted entirely to the celebration of native culture. The wide range of events – including poetry readings, concerts, and cinematography – also serve to educate everyone on the meaningful, historical significance of native culture in Canada’s history. It’s not just a celebration for First Nations people, but an opportunity to share their history and values with the rest of the world.

Montreal Festival of Fashion and Design

August 2017
Dedicated to showcasing local talent on the runways, this annual festival is huge in the fashion world. An ultra-glamorous event, it features everything from breakout Montreal designers to seasoned, world-renowned names from across the country. Runway shows, cocktail events, galas, and dinner parties are just a few of the exciting events that fashionistas can take part in. Every media outlet, fashion-lover, and blogger in the city can be spotted admiring the talent of our very own haute couture designers as they unveil their fall collections here first.

Festival international Nuits d'Afrique

July 11 to 23
The Quartier des Spectacles will be an even livelier and more entertaining place to be for nearly two weeks this July. This annual festival includes performances and events representing African, West Indies, Caribbean, and Latin American music. International artists from countries like Haiti, Brazil, Morocco, Cameroon, and Spain, promise to deliver a variety of traditional musical performances that not only entertain, but also share the beautiful culture and history of each of these unique places in the world. You can catch several events, free of charge, at La Sala Rossa, the Fairmount Theatre, Club Balattou, and many other venues around town. Check their official website regularly for up-to-date information on specific events and venues.

Fantasia Festival

July 13 to August 3
Known as one of the best genre film festivals in the world, Fantasia is back for the 21st time in Montreal. Showcasing rarely seen films, this international film festival includes productions from Europe, Asia and North America. Over 100,000 spectators come together for screenings of films rarely seen here in Canada, that range from personal projects to larger, commercial-type productions. A true display of creativity and unique cinematic charm, this film festival promises to introduce you to a whole new world of filmmaking. Just be sure to keep an eye on tickets as they can sometimes sell out very quickly, with limited screenings available.

MTLàTABLE

November 2 to 16
MTLàTABLE This year’s event will be celebrating the city’s 375th anniversary, with 175 establishments offering three-course table d’hôte menus at three different prices, $21, $31 and $41. Here’s an opportunity to discover culinary masterpieces and let yourself be spoiled by what Montreal – the great city of restaurants – does best.

La Fête des Neiges

January 2018
With winter lasting for what seems like an eternity around these parts, it wouldn’t make sense not to host a festival dedicated to the season’s most enjoyable activities. On several weekends throughout the winter months, an array of activities will be hosted at Parc Jean-Drapeau, including hockey, tubing, and skating. If there was ever a time to love winter, this is it. Whether you plan to visit some of these events with your significant other, or want to make it a whole family affair, this winter wonderland festival is one way to learn to embrace the winter and maybe even enjoy it!

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