12 Unmissable Festivals and Events in Quebec, Canada

Fire on Ice Festival | © CTC / Quays of the Old Port of Montréal
Fire on Ice Festival | © CTC / Quays of the Old Port of Montréal
Photo of Emily Paskevics
22 January 2018

Quebec is known for hosting vibrant and lively events all year round. There are around 900 festivals of various sizes and duration held annually in cities, towns and communities across the province. Whether your preference is for comedy, electronic music, jazz, art, food, or seasonal festivities, there’s a fun event for you to attend somewhere in Quebec. Here’s a selection of festivals and events in Quebec (from Montreal to Quebec City and beyond) that you won’t want to miss.


Just for Laughs

Since its first iteration in 1983, Montreal’s Just for Laughs has grown exponentially to become the world’s largest international comedy festival. Taking place at different venues across the city through July, the festival incorporates a series of events, performances, and shows, some of which are free for all to enjoy.

International Jazz Festival

Another world-famous festival taking place annually in Montreal is Jazz Fest, which is the world’s largest jazz festival. Every year the festival showcases around 3,000 artists representing 30+ countries, performing in more than 650 concerts (including 450 free outdoor performances). Jazz Fest shuts down a significant part of the city’s downtown area, as the festival attracts over 2 million visitors.

Montreal International Jazz Festival | © Jocelynhade / WikiCommons


For Coachella-style festival fans, Osheaga is the multi-day indie music event that you won’t want to miss. Held every summer in Montreal’s Parc Jean-Drapeau, the concerts transpire across six different stages and attract attendees in the hundreds of thousands. Past headliners have included such diverse artists as Eminem, Jack Johnson, Metric, Cat Power, Lorde, Tegan and Sara, and Kendrick Lamar—among countless indie performers.

The crowds at Osheaga | © velkr0 / WikiCommons

Les FrancoFolies de Montréal

For a celebration of French-language and Québéois musical artistry, Les FrancoFolies brings in over 1,000 French-language performers from all over the world, along with over 500,000 visitors. Many of the performances are free, taking place on outdoor stages in the downtown core.

Gazoline au Métropolis durant les Francofolies de Montréal 2015 | © Jctdube/ Flickr


Montreal’s Igloofest claims to be the coldest music festival in the world, and it truly does live up to this title annually. Transpiring in the Old Ports from late January into early February, Igloofest draws EDM lovers from across Quebec, Canada, and abroad—to the tens of thousands. What makes this festival unique is the fact that it takes place entirely out-of-doors, during the coldest depths of winter. So bring your parka and mittens and be ready to warm up with beer or hot chocolate as you dance the night away. The 2018 lineup includes artists Kaytranada, Bonobo, NGHTMRE, Petit Biscuit, DJ Esco, Sasha and John Digweed.

Montréal en lumière

Montréal en lumière is another big winter festival in Montreal, first taking place in 2000. It is held in the ever-vibrant Quartier des Spectacles and is one of the largest winter festivals in the world. Combining performing arts, gastronomic experiences, free outdoor family activities and more, the festival attracts around 900,000 attendees seeking a way to banish the winter blues.

Montreal en Lumière, Nuit Blanche | © art_inthecity / Flickr

Quebec City

Winter Carnaval

The Winter Carnaval in Quebec City holds the record for being the oldest and most famous of the winter festivals that take place annually across Canada. Represented by the distinctive Bonhomme figure, the most well-known events of Carnaval are the night-time and daytime parades, which move through the magical light and ice sculpture displays of the upper city. There are also free outdoor public banquets, outdoor sports (including ice skating, skiing, hockey, snowshoeing, and dogsledding), and even a masquerade ball with up to 400 participants at the grand ballroom of the Château Frontenac.

The Bonhomme of the Carnaval de Quebec | © Laserpdb/ WikiCommons

Quebec City Film Festival

The Quebec City Film Festival takes place annually in September, showcasing a range of short and feature films, and premieres movies from all over the world. The film fest has been running since 2011, with screenings including around 50 international feature films and more than 100 short films. The festival has grown every year since its inception, attracting around 30,000 people in 2016. Be sure to check out the he Ciné Pop-up around the downtown area, both before and during the festival.

Quebec City Summer Festival

The winter festival might be the star of Quebec City’s celebrations, with long, harsh winters being one of the defining elements of local culture. But, since 1968 the city has also hosted a popular summer music festival that runs through 11 days every July. Around 135,000 passes are sold annually, with total attendance of about 1.5 million music lovers. There are hundreds of performances over a dozen venues across the city, usually within walking distance of one another. The festival is known for representing a wide variety of music genres, from rock and punk to hip-hop, classical music, francophone music, world music, and EDM.

DJ Shadow at the Quebec City Summer Festival 2017 | © peta_azak/ Flickr

Regional Festivals

The International Balloon Festival of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu

The International Balloon Festival of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu is the largest balloon festival in Canada, held annually around mid-August. In 2018, there will be 100 Hot Air Balloons from Canada, the United States, France and Brazil filling the skies around Haut-Richelieu. The festival also includes amusement rides, musical performances, comedy shows, and nuits magiques (tethered, glowing night-time demonstrations).

International Balloon Festival of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. | © Bouchecl /WikiMedia Commons

Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival

The Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival is an annual celebration featuring a magical display of hot air balloons of every shape and colour. The festival includes around 300 shows and performances, taking place over the four days of Labour Day weekend. Recent years have drawn over 200,000 visitors to the city of Gatineau. 2018 will mark the festival’s 31st year.

Le Festif! in Baie-Saint-Paul

Le Festif! is a three-day music festival that attracts thousands of visitors annually at the end of July. In 2017, 35,000 revellers attended performances by the likes of Xavier Rudd, Timber Timbre, Plants & Animals, and many others, including several prominent Québécois musicians such as Le Couleur, Les Dales Hawerchuk, and Louis-Jean Cormier.

Fête d’hiver de Saint-Jean-Port-Joli

What’s winter in Quebec without winter festivals? In addition to the most famous Quebec City Carnaval, a number of cities, towns, and communities across the province hold significant winter celebrations. The Fête d’hiver de Saint-Jean-Port-Joli is one such event, annually held in February and specifically featuring snow sculptures. Attendees can watch professional artists as well as up-and-coming sculptors from Quebec and elsewhere. There are also a number of other activities to celebrate surviving another long, cold winter, including musical shows, cultural and sports events, fireworks, and more.

Cookies Policy

We and our partners use cookies to better understand your needs, improve performance and provide you with personalised content and advertisements. To allow us to provide a better and more tailored experience please click "OK"