If you haven’t noticed yet from this blog’s coverage of Mutek, Osheaga, Jazz Fest and Just for Laughs, Montreal is a city obsessed with its festivals. The reason is simple: for many cold months, Montrealers are stuck in their apartments drinking red wine and waiting out the winter, so when summer hits, no one is ready to go home until at least October…
Though Montreal boasts some huge, big-ticket festivals like those mentioned above, it also boasts some smaller, yet no less big-time fests. From French music to beautiful lanterns, there’s something happening every night from now until it’s time to put the snow tires back on.
Here are the Top 5 Montreal Festivals you may not have heard of:
- Les FrancoFolies de Montréal (July 30th-August 9th): First off, Francofolies is not a small fest at all. Now over 20 years old, this celebration of the French-speaking music world attracts over a million fans every year. With nearly 250 shows happening in Montreal’s downtown core, this year’s line-up features names like Corneille, Jorane, Daniel Bélanger and Martha Wainwright. The perfect way to get to know the French influence that has made Montreal the special place it is.
Otakuthon (July 31st-Aug 2nd): Quebec’s only anime festival is dedicated to Japanese animation, graphic novels and pop culture. The weekend fest features a concert, masquerade, karaoke, tons of vendors, artist workshops and videos games. Look, I’ve never gone, but I walked by it last year and I have to admit it looked like a lot of fun.
Italian Week (August 7th-16th): Italian week brings the rich arts and culture (and food, don’t forget about the food!) of Montreal’s Italian community to the forefront with one incredible party. Though the first couple days are spread out all around the city, by the 14th the party takes over Montreal’s Little Italy. Music, art, guided tours, sports, food and even some Ferraris.
FestiBlues International de Montréal (August 12th-16th): Though they’ve got more than 50 national and international blues-influenced musicians, Festiblues is worth checking out in order to explore Ahuntsic Park and the surrounding neighbourhood that hosts the event. It is also the best fest deal in town, by a long shot: $5 a night and $12 for pass to the whole shebang.
Magic of Lanterns (September 11th-November 1st): Located in Montreal’s Botanical Gardens, this is really something you can’t miss. I go every year and I’m not exactly what you call a “garden enthusiast.” Set in their incredible Chinese Gardens, the night-time affair features more than a 1000 traditional lanterns illuminating the beautifully sculpted and serene landscape.