Montreal’s abundant cultural diversity shows itself year-round in everyday life in the city and in several celebratory events, such as July’s globe-spanning Weekends du Monde and in smaller yet vibrant festivals throughout the summer, including four fantastic fests in August…
Haiti en Folie (Haiti on Fire), August 2-4, is the biggest festival of its kind outside of Haiti, dedicated to celebrating Haitian culture in its many forms, from music to film. In its seventh year, the festival transforms a leafy corner of Parc Lafontaine into an artisanal fair – with food, art work, musical performances, books (with some authors present, including Dany Laferrière), workshops and more – on Friday and Saturday, 3-10 p.m. See musical performances each night at 7:30 at Théâtre de Verdure: on Friday night, Black Parents play their mix of kompa and reggae music, and on Saturday, Haitian folkloric percussion ensemble Chaynanm entertain. On closing night, August 4, four Haitian guitar virtuosos play an unforgettable show, Guitars en Folie, at Cabaret du Mile-End. The festival also screens French director Philippe Niang’s 2012 historical drama Toussaint Louverture, under the stars at Théâtre De Verdure, August 2-3 at 9 p.m.
Montreal’s Italian Week, August 9-18, turns the neighbourhood of Little Italy into a pedestrian-only zone, replete with Italian food, music and dance performances, art and more. Among its many events, the festival’s 20th edition presents an outdoor performance of Verdi’s opera La Traviata, tours of Little Italy, a performative pairing of opera and gourmet cuisine, free screenings of Fellini films, fashion and car shows (all the Fiat 500s in Montreal seem to flock to the fest), music by Stelle Alpine Folk Group, Brigitte Pace Band, tenor Christopher Dallo, and super-popular electronic-dance musician Misstress Barbara and her band.
Montréal International Tango Festival, August 13-18, continues to prove how much Montreal loves the art of the Argentine dance, welcoming experts and tango lovers of all ages and levels. Over the course of only six days, the festival hosts 62 classes, 12 dancers, 6 milongas, 4 shows and two orchestras at Tango Libre and other known tango locales around the city. Whether you’re a dancer or not, enjoy moonlight tango evenings with live bands – Quinteto Cinco Esquinas and Trio Argentino – and guest dancers at Théâtre de la Verdure in Parc Lafontaine, Parc Charles-De Gaulle, and at one of the city’s park-like greenhouses, all for free.
Matsuri Japon Japanese Festival, August 10, packs all kinds of activities, entertainment, music, food and drink into just one day. Montreal’s Japanese community centre opens its doors and outdoor grounds for the 12th edition of the festival, featuring performances from taiko drummers, traditional dancers, musicians and martial arts experts, as well as the opportunity to try on a colourful yukata, traditional Japanese summer wear. On top of that are plenty of activities for kids, arts and crafts workshops, a marketplace and food kiosks serving up sushi, noodles, okonomiyaki, takoyaki and more.