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A Montreal summer festival guide


A Montreal summer festival guide

Summertime is festival time in Montreal. Each year, the city’s summer calendar is crammed with a dizzying array of festivals.

Whether you want to scream with the biggest bands on earth, watch the world’s greatest tennis players, or laugh it up at the best comedy festival anywhere, bring your shades and get ready for a party.

Montreal festivals in May

The month of May technically falls in the category of spring, but for Montreal it's a great sense-stimulating, digital-driven summer teaser.

ELEKTRAExternal Link Title is a digital arts festival showcasing new creations in electronic music, video, cinema, performance, design, gaming and interactive installation, and definite must-see

ChromaticExternal Link Title offers eight days of creative arts, ranging from visual to digital and performance to interactive, high atop the iconic Mount Royal.

Don't miss the overlapping multi-sensory MUTEKExternal Link Title festival, an ode to the artists and innovators in electronic music, digital creativity, technology and live performance.

Then, late in the month, the Festival TransAm?riquesExternal Link Title lights up the city up with compelling new works in contemporary dance and theater.

Francofolies - Credit: Eva Blue
Francofolies - Credit: Eva Blue

Montreal festivals in June

Want to buff up your French? In mid-June, Les FrancoFolies de MontrealExternal Link Title celebrates French-language music from around the globe, with 180 free outdoor performances, pop, rock, blues, jazz and world music.

No long after, we paint the town red - and plenty of other colors - during MURAL FestivalExternal Link Title, devoted to showcasing the sublime world of urban art and graffiti in Montreal's happening Plateau neighborhood.

Proving it's a cosmopolitan city with A-list pull, every June Montreal welcomes the Formula 1 Grand Prix du CanadaExternal Link Title, the only race of its kind in North America. Superfast cars and star-studded parties power this glitzy weekend. 

Swinging in at the end of June is the incomparable Montreal International Jazz FestivalExternal Link Title. Officially crowned the biggest jazz fest in the world, this granddaddy of festivals is all about musicians playing and people swaying in the Quartier des Spectacles downtown.

The Just for Laughs Festival
The Just for Laughs Festival - Credit: Asymetric/Finn O'Hara

Montreal festivals in July

The sun-kissed vibes of Africa arrives in Montreal in early July, with the Festival International Nuits d'AfriqueExternal Link Title. The event welcomes traditional and ground-breaking musicians from Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America as well as local talent.

If you're into electronic, hip hop or indie music, Montreal's got you covered with MEG MontrealExternal Link Title, which runs from late July to early August.

Also in late July is the epic Osheaga Music and Arts FestivalExternal Link Title, where big names and emerging arts in indie pop, rock, hip hop and electronic music share the stage for three days straight on scenic ?le Sainte-H?l?ne. 

If you get your kicks from comedy, Montreal's legendary Just For LaughsExternal Link Title has been a springboard for some of the craft's biggest names who, come July, fill comedy venues, downtown theatres and nightclubs.

July also marks the start of the color-popping pyrotechnics of the International des feux Loto-Qu?becExternal Link Title, a fireworks competition that promises sky-high dazzle.

In mid-July, Montreal's Uniprix Stadium welcomes the female superstars of tennis for the Rogers CupExternal Link Title tournament, where blistering serves, searing backhands, and killer smashes leave sports fans blown-away and breathless.

Are you a culture-vulture? The world-famous FantasiaExternal Link Title film festival wows with rarities and much-anticipated features in fantasy, horror, science fiction and more, from mid-July to early August.

ZoofestExternal Link Title is relatively new to Montreal's festival scene, but it's been a proven hit with its lineup of stand-up, sketch comedy, burlesque and general zaniness.

Circus artists from the Americas and Europe flaunt their creativity and pliability during Montr?al Compl?tement CirqueExternal Link Title.

Meanwhile, the Montreal First Peoples FestivalExternal Link Title takes us back to the roots of Aboriginal cultures in Montreal, Canada and around the world, with concerts, film screenings, talks and more from July through to August.

Montreal Festivals in August

Though Montrealers are a mellow bunch, they like a little head-banging too. Crowds rock out death metal, hair metal and more during early August's Heavy MontrealExternal Link Title.

IleSoniqExternal Link Title, which kicks off in mid-August, brings a sizzling lineup of new electronic dance and urban music to the city.

And proving that every weekend is another opportunity to party, Piknic ?lectronikExternal Link Title satisfies electronic music cravings with top DJs and producers every Sunday at Parc Jean-Drapeau all throughout the summer.

LGBT rights come to the forefront during Montreal's much-loved mid-August Pride events, including the exuberant and colorful Pride Parade, which caps off a week of community and cultural events.

Around the same time, fans of symphony music are given a veritable tympanic treat when the Montreal Symphony Orchestra showcases its Classical SpreeExternal Link Title.

We weren't kidding about Montreal being a festival city. For more information on these, or other Montreal festivals throughout the year, visit the Tourism Montreal website.