Summer means festival season in Montreal. There is an endless stream of events and concerts, street parties, celebrations, and world-class festivals throughout June to early September, making the city an almost dizzyingly lively place to visit. Here is a selection of some of the best and most diverse festivals happening this summer around Montreal.
Les FrancoFolies de Montreal
June 8–17, 2018
Running since 1989, the FrancoFolies is an annual celebration of French-language music from around the world, offering over 180 outdoor performances that cover everything from pop and rock to blues, jazz, hip-hop, and more. Many of the concerts are free to the public, taking place across a number of stages set up around Place des Arts in the downtown area of Montreal.
June 7–17, 2018
MURAL is a public art festival that transpires along Montreal’s Saint-Laurent Boulevard, with the mission of democratizing urban arts. This year, there will be a mural opening show on June 7th, followed by a week of guided mural tours, a block party, a grill day featuring 10 different local restaurants, and a film screening, and other fun activities. There’s also an app connected to the festival that will guide you through the striking and most iconic murals around the city.
Formula 1 Grand Prix Weekend
June 8–10, 2018
A showy weekend celebration of fast cars that locals often love to hate, the main event of the Montreal Grand Prix takes place on the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve at Parc Jean-Drapeau. In addition to the race, however, you’ll find the city decked out with special deals at certain clubs, restaurants, and shopping venues. There’s also a street festival that takes place on Crescent Street, where snazzy cars will be on display alongside free outdoor shows and other animations.
Montreal International Jazz Festival
June 28 – July 7, 2018
The Montreal Jazz Fest is one of the city’s most famous festivals, bringing in around 3,000 performers from around the globe in diverse concerts that include around 450 free outdoor performances. Annually, the music festival welcomes over two million attendees, a mix of locals and tourists who come for the laid-back atmosphere, free music, and street food. The Montreal Jazz Fest even holds the 2004 Guinness World Record as the world’s largest jazz festival.
Montreal Circus Festival
July 5–15, 2018
The Circus Festival offers displays of creativity, flexibility, and fun by artists hailing from the Americas and Europe. A mix of indoor and (free) outdoor events take place across the city, so you’re sure to come across a surreal and thrilling performance or two if you’re in Old Montreal or the downtown area.
July 7, 2018
Carifiesta is a grand annual parade and carnival that works its way through downtown Montreal, with vibrant music, dancing, colorful costumes, and more, offering insight into the multicultural character of Montreal’s Caribbean communities. There are upwards of 100,000 attendees each year, and Carifiesta (or Carifête in French) has long been a July tradition since 1975.
Festival International Nuits d’Afrique
July 10–22, 2018
Nuits d’Afrique features both traditional and groundbreaking musicians from across Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America—as well as showcasing local talent. The event, established in 1987, only continues to expand and attracts more visitors every year. There are indoor and (free) outdoor performances, a market, music and dance workshops, and a fun-filled family area. This year’s opening show will feature Femi Kuti and The Positive Force.
Just for Laughs
July 11–29, 2018
Operating for nearly 35 years, Just for Laughs is one of the largest comedy festivals in the world, and it’s integral to summers in Montreal. With major headliners as well as rising stars, Just For Laughs has shows in both English and French (or a combination of the two) and fills venues, downtown theaters, and nightclubs through the end of July. There is also a block party associated with the festival.
July 28–29, 2018
For a wild celebration of death metal, hair metal, and more, Heavy Montreal takes place in Parc Jean-Drapeau at the end of July this year. Headliners include Marilyn Manson, Underoath, Rob Zombie, and many others. Since 2008, Heavy Montreal has welcomed around 300,000 fans for a two-day head-banging party that bills itself as “the premiere North American destination for fans of rock and metal.”
August 3–5, 2018
Osheaga is a popular, three-day outdoor music festival that focuses on both big names and emerging artists in indie pop, rock, hip-hop, and electronic music. Happening in Parc Jean-Drapeau, there are six stages with various audience capacities. The event has attracted as many as 40,000 attendees per day. Osheaga also holds a series of concerts in different locations around Montreal in the week leading up to the main event.
Montreal First Peoples Festival
August 7–15, 2018
Taking place in the ever-lively Quartier des Spectacles, the Montreal First Peoples Festival includes film screenings, concerts, traditional crafts, dance performances, seminars, and displays of visual and media arts—all reflecting the diversity and creativity of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples, from past to present.
Taking place every weekend from May to September, Piknic Electronik proves that Montrealers love to party—even on Sunday afternoons. Fans head over to Parc Jean-Drapeau throughout the summer to watch local and international electronic music DJs and producers. If outdoor techno is your jam, also check out the August events associated with Île Soniq.
Montreal International Fireworks Competition
July 7 – August 8, 2018
Starting in July and wrapping up in August, the year 2018 will mark the 34th edition of L’International des Feux Loto-Québec. Taking place every Wednesday and Saturday evening, with each display representing the greatest pyrotechnic artists from different countries, this season will open with a tribute to the Swedish band ABBA and will close to the music of James Bond movies.
Gay Village Summer Events
In addition to Montreal’s Pride Week (August 9th–19th) and Pride Parade on August 19th, the city’s Gay Village hosts a variety of events throughout the summer months—from sidewalk sales, Lesbian Movie Nights, open patios, art shows, and a Fetish Weekend held in early September. Keep up-to-date about these events on the Village’s Facebook page.