La St-Jean Baptiste or Fête Nationale is Quebec’s National Holiday. Every year, on June 24, Montrealers and Quebecers from all over the province come together to celebrate French Canadian culture.
The tradition landed in Canada with the first French colonists and the first celebrations occured on the banks of the Saint Lawrance River in 1636, revered with a bonfire and five cannon shots. Today, Montrealers from all origins and backgrounds get together on June 23 and 24 to celebrate “La St-Jean”, as we simply call it.
Here are some of the festivities happening in Montreal this year!
On June 24 at 1pm, join thousands of Quebecers for the traditional St-Jean Parade. This is a particularly interesting activity if you’re traveling with children. The “Parade of Giants” will feature musicians, acrobats, and 24 giant figurines representing characters who have greatly influenced Quebec’s history. The parade starts on Fullum Street and will end at Parc Maisonneuve, where a huge concert and more festivities will kick off! FREE – Frontenac Metro
The free show of Parc Maisonneuve is the biggest St-Jean event in Montreal. Here, you’ll enjoy the presence of many famous Quebec singers and artists on June 24. This year’s performers include Dumas, Paul Piché, Les Trois Accords, Marie-Mai, Dubmatique and Yann Perreau. I would recommend arriving anytime between 5pm and 7pm. Pie-IX Metro
L’Autre St-Jean, or “The Other St-Jean”, is the hipster alternative to the Maisonneuve festivities. It’s happening on June 23rd at 6pm at Parc du Pelican. You’ll most probably find me here at some point in the evening, sipping on a beer (une bière – you must learn how to say beer in French) and listening to some great tunes by Ariane Moffatt, The Breastfeeders and the United Steel Workers of Montreal.
Head to Parc Davies in Montreal West on Wednesday June 23rd for a traditional bonfire, music, dance and BBQ. The lighting of the fire is always quite impressive! Festivities start at 6pm
PS. LEARN SOME FRENCH
These few key words and expressions will come in handy. La St-Jean is a very patriotic holiday, so making an effort to speak French is definitely a good way to make friends.
Where is the nearest metro station? Où est le métro le plus proche?
What’s your name? Comment tu t’appelles?
My name is Tamy : Je m’appelle Tamy
How much is it? Combien ça coute?
I’m looking for the bathroom : Je cherche les toilettes
Have a good evening : Bonne soirée
Where can I eat a poutine? Où est-ce que je peux manger une poutine?
You are very pretty : Tu es très belle
Can I offer you a drink? Je peux t’offrir un verre?
Cheers : Santé!
What is there to do tonight? Qu’y a-t-il à faire ce soir?
Where is it? C’est où?
Thank you : Merci
Happy St-Jean Baptiste : Bonne St-Jean!