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Arts & Culture ᐊᔨᐦᑐᐧᐃᓐ

The Nation’s 2019 Summer Tourism Guide

BY Amy German May 24, 2019

thanks, winter, for all that sour, and here’s to some of the sweeter things coming this summer

We can all agree this past winter was a long and trying one. For some in the North, it’s not quite yet over. For us further south, we’ve been at the mercy of fickle climate gods for months now. A few spring days sprinkled in between blizzards. It does appear, however, that we’ve finally turned the corner and moved past fool’s spring to actual spring. Summer is in sight and boy does it feel nice.

Without the sour though, the sweet just wouldn’t taste as good. So thanks, winter, for all that sour, and here’s to some of the sweeter things coming this summer.    

In and Around Montreal


For its 14th edition, Osheaga will be coming home, so to speak. For the past two years, the event was held at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, but with construction now complete on Parc Jean-Drapeau’s Île Sainte-Hélène, the show returns to its original and improved venue.

As always, one of Canada’s biggest summer music festivals will have a little something for every one – except for maybe the country music fans – with performances by such acts as Tame Impala, Childish Gambino, Beach House, The Chemical Brothers, Flume, The Lumineers, City and Colour, Logic, Gucci Mane, Interpol, Janelle Monae and Metric.

Running August 2-4, Osheaga is a great excuse to come south to enjoy the end of summer.


Just for Laughs

Another staple Montreal summer event is the Just for Laughs comedy festival running July 10-28 in downtown Montreal.

Like always, this year’s fest will feature some of the biggest names in comedy like the Daily Show’s Trevor Noah, comedy legend Adam Sandler, Aziz Ansari, and Jim Jeffries.  During the festival there’s also the OFF-JFL Festival, which is an offshoot of the city’s Zoofest featuring local and up-and-coming comedy talent. Two-, three- and five-show passes are on sale now.


Jazz Fest

For four decades Montreal’s Festival International de Jazz has been one of the foremost jazz celebrations on the planet – in 2004 it actually set the Guinness World Record for largest jazz festival. This year, entering its 40th iteration, it’s showing no signs of slowing down.

Hosted June 26-July 6 in Montreal’s Quartier des Spectacles, this year’s event will feature Buddy Guy, Alan Parsons, Norah Jones, Alt-J, Bryan Adams, the Bahamas, Blue Rodeo and Peter Frampton.


Sexy Cars

The Canadian F1 Grand Prix, and all the torque and excitement that comes with it, will invade Parc Jean-Drapeau’s Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve June 7-9, as well as a big chunk of Downtown between Peel and Crescent.

With speeds up to 375 km/h, F1 cars are the fastest road-racing vehicles in the world.  And while the crowds and partygoers can be a bit overwhelming, the race – with souped-up cars on display and scantily clad brand ambassadors – guarantees excitement for the car enthusiast.


Fire Works!

Every year, the amusement park La Ronde becomes home of an international fireworks competition, attracting some of the biggest pyrotechnics firms from around the world. The Loto-Québec 2019 International Fireworks Competition opens June 29 and hosts a show every Wednesday and Saturday until its conclusion July 27. Countries competing this year are South Korea, Italy, Portugal, the United States, Australia and Canada.


Heavy Montreal

After taking 2017 off to rest and recuperate, Heavy Montreal heads back to Parc Jean-Drapeau this summer. 2019’s Heavy will feature headliners Slayer, Godsmack, Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, as well as crowd favourite side-events like Heavy Mania.


Pride Montreal

Fierté Montréal (a.k.a. Pride Montreal), is a 10-day celebration dedicated to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer and Two Spirited (LGBTQ2S) people, culminating in a huge parade on its final day. Running August 8-18, Pride Montreal is billed as the largest LGBTQ2S festival in Canada. To volunteer or submit an application to perform, check out its website. Events and performances will be added to Pride Montreal’s schedule in the coming months.


Presence Autochtone

During August 6-14, Montreal’s Quartier des spectacles will be home to the 29th Presence Autochtone festival. Every year, Terres en vues curates an impressive event aimed at connecting Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities through art installations, film screenings, ceremonies, music shows and performances art. While the official schedule has yet to be announced, programming details will be available soon.


Kahnawake Powwow

Created as a way to bring together Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in the wake of the 1990 Oka Crisis, Kahnawake’s Echoes of a Proud Nation Powwow has grown into one of the biggest powwows in Eastern Canada. Every year, thousands of people from across North America flock to Kahnawake to celebrate Indigenous culture. This year’s event will be held July 13-14 and will again be host to a world-class powwow dancing competition as well as food and arts-and-crafts vendors.  


Off Island

If you are looking for family fun that isn’t too far from home, there’s always a bevy of activities and festivals happening just a car ride away. And, as the James Bay summer is so short, it’s never a bad idea to get a jump on your summer 2019 bucket list.

Le Spectacle aérien de Val-d’or (The Val-d’Or Air Show)

Come June 8-9, the Val-d’Or airport will host the ultimate event to kick off the summer with a breathtaking air show. Featuring the Snowbirds and the RCAF’s 2019 CF-18 Demonstration, a Mig-17 demonstration, the Skyhawks parachute team, Red Bull Air Racer, the Yak Attack Airshow Team and the Canadian Harvard Aerobatic Team, the event promises to be an exhilarating one. There’s plenty of fun for the young ones with bouncy castles and other family attractions, so remember to bring a pair of socks so that your kids can jump!


Saint-Honoré dans l’Vent Kite Festival

Running June 14-16, the Saint-Honoré airport plays host to this colourful, international kite festival that brings professional flyers from around the world. Besides spectacular, exotic and unique kites from abroad, this event also has a small aircraft display and tours, live entertainment and a mega-event on Saturday night that will feature all kinds of lights and sounds. Perfect family fun!


Anima Lumina

A fun twist on a regular northern attraction, the Saint-Félicien Wild Zoo offers a special illuminated night walk! Between June 22 and September 1, this light and musical show celebrates the beauty of nature without disturbing it. It features an original soundtrack composed with the inhabitants in mind and was designed as a celebration with respect for flora and fauna.


Festival de la truite mouchetée (Speckled Trout)

Running June 22-30 in Saint-Alexis-des-Monts, this speckled or brook trout festival is the biggest of its kind in the Mauricie region and is a great getaway in the picturesque small town! This family friendly event features some live entertainment and loads of trout fishing.


James Bay Walleye Fishing Derby

For those who love to fish or just sit around and tell fish tales, Quebec’s largest walleye fishing tournament is back June 27-July 6. Now in its 20th year, this popular fishing phenomenon attracts tourists and professional fishermen from far and wide, features lots of attractions on the Chapais site and loads of prizes for those who catch the biggest fish. This year there’s a walloping $100,000 in prizes, which include different varieties of Princecraft boats.


Wendake International Powwow

One of Quebec’s larger Powwow events (June 28-30), this international event is put on in conjunction with Wendake First Nation, just outside of Quebec City. Featuring traditional food tasting, youth activities and traditional competitions, the event showcases First Nations culture to those who wish to visit and learn.


Festival Blues Eldorado

Now in its fifth edition and has been picking up momentum, this event brings blues acts to Val-d’Or. The 2019 event will June 28-July 30 and this year’s line-up includes Slam Allen, Riot and the Blues Devils, the Backtrack Blues Band, Alexis P. Suter and Monkey Junk, so book your tickets now.


Festival d’humour de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue

Val-d’Or is importing comedians and artists of all kinds for their comedy festival July 2-7. Back again for another stellar performance is one of Canada’s top Indigenous stand-up acts, Howie Miller who will host Soirée Anglophone: Laugh and blues. Miller will also perform with a blues act at Bar Bistro l’Entracte July 3.


H2O le festival

Celebrating the natural elements of Amos this July 11-14, the H20 festival features live musical acts, dragon-boat racing, a marathon and loads of family fun activities ideal for the hottest time of the year so expect splashing! This event is held at different locations throughout Amos and many of the activities are free of charge.


Mashteuiatsh Powwow

For those who want to enjoy a large powwow, the Mashteuiatsh Powwow (July 12-14) offers a lot of return on investment in terms of time and distance to travel. Nestled in the community of Mashteuiatsh, on the Uashassihtsh site in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region, this is a competitive powwow that features vendors, family fun and tasty food.


Les Rythmes Tremblant

Mont Tremblant hosts the Rythmes Tremblant festival, which features live music nightly on big stages July 19-28. Because it is Tremblant, the town already has so much to offer that the whole family can have fun from dawn well into the night. With golf courses, a beach, boats, kids’ activities plus boutique shopping and a casino, there is never a dull moment.


Exposition agricole de Chicoutimi

Because it is never quite summer unless you have been to the fair, the Chicoutimi Agricultural Fair has everything your typical, quaint country fair could offer July 24-28. Featuring lots and lots and lots of livestock, about 45,000 annual visitors and a huge midway it’s also an excellent opportunity to show off one’s aim, strong arm and persistence, winning a prize at popping balloon darts is a right of passage in just about everyone’s childhood!


Festival de la relève indépendante musicale en Abitibi-Témiscamingue

For independent musicians of Quebec’s north, there is no better venue than FRIMAT. Featuring musicians from the region and beyond, this event is geared to get independent musicians heard. For local musicians looking to perform or fans of the more underground scene, this is quite the event. Runs July 24-27.


Festival Innu Nikamu

The only Quebec festival dedicated to First Nations music outside of the Montreal First Peoples Festival, Innu Nikamu is the Gem of the North when it comes to Indigenous voices and music. A large gathering of Indigenous peoples that shares music, dance and even golf, the Festival Innu Nikamu is held on Innu territory in Maliotenam, August 1-4.


August Festival

The aptly named “August Festival” takes place August 1-4 in Chibougamau and is the biggest cultural event in Quebec’s north. With over 75 acts from the region performing, there is much else to enjoy including a pyromusical display, a beach volleyball tournament, a triathlon, as well as music shows and loads of family friendly activities. ville.chibougamau.qc.ca/visiteurs/idees-de-loisirs/evenements-et-fetes/festival-en-aout/

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Amy German has worked in the magazine industry since 2001 and has her own personal blog. She is pretty much never without something to say and is always looking for a story.