The 3.6 million residents of metro Montréal (or Montreal if you prefer) dwell in a foremost capital of culture and, indeed, take advantage of such with exceptional bravura, enthusiasm and pride. The premier city in Québec, Canada has more museums and festivals (not to mention restaurants, cafés and bars) than you can shake a Canadiens hockey stick at and flowers every summer with a litany of world class events. Without question, Montréal is North America’s summer festival city par excellence.
Downtown Montréal – Photo credit
2011 is no exception. We chose 15 events and festivals to whet your appetite for a future visit to the UNESCO City of Design. Montréal hotels await!
Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival
April 27 – May 1, 2011
At the annual mercy of long, bitter, harsh winters, Montrealers infamously get a jump-start on summer as early as late April. Usher in the Blue Met. One of the most important literary festivals in North America features a stellar cast this year, from Gore Vidal to Amitav Ghosh.
La Biennale de Montréal
May 1-31, 2011
A month-long fête for electronic and visual arts, with events held thoughout the city.
May 4-8, 2011
The hyper-avant-garde Elektra festival promotes and disseminates new technology and digital art in unorthodox spaces, from Usine C to the Darling Foundry.
June 1-5, 2011
Mutek, International Festival of Creativity and Digital Music, is a quasi-companion to Elektra. Together, the twin festivals took home a major city arts council grand prize in 2010.
Le Mondial de la bière/Beer Festival
June 8-12, 2011
Québec is a microbrewery haven – craft beers from the province sweep international awards on a regular basis – but the annual beer festival in Montréal celebrates suds from all over the globe.
June 9-18, 2011
The top French-language music festival in the world lures over half a million spectators to indoor and outdoor events throughout the city.
Formula 1 Grand Prix du Canada
June 10-12, 2011
The only F1 pit-stop in North America takes over the venerable 100,000 capacity Circuit Gilles Villeneuve every June and transforms downtown Montréal into a gigantic street party.
Festival International de Jazz de Montréal
June 25 – July 4, 2011
With a respectful nod to New Orleans and Montreux, Montréal throws the ultimate annual jazz festival. On average, more than 3,000 acts and 2.5 million visitors flood the city every June/July – a Guinness World Record. The pinnacle free outdoor concert on the corner of Jeanne-Mance and Ste-Catherine, smack dab in the downtown core, often draws crowds in excess of 200,000.
Just for Laughs International Comedy Festival
July 5-31, 2011
From the top jazz festival to the top comedy festival. Just for Laughs was a pioneer when it took the stage, most humbly, in 1983. Now a worldwide brand, the fest is where Hollywood comes to scout new talent and ink pacts with the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, Dave Chappelle, Jon Stewart and Chris Rock.
Fantasia International Film Festival
July 14 – August 7, 2011
Fantasia is a cornerstone genre cinema festival and a target for distributors who select films for wide North America release.
July 25-31, 2011
Montréal’s place as a pulse point of LGBT culture is most apparent when Divers/Cité sweeps the Gay Village and, indeed, the city. Far from the only pride festival on the calendar, however, as Pervers/Cité (August) and Image+Nation (LGBT film festival in October/November) gamely confirm.
Osheaga Music and Arts Festival
July 29-31, 2011
The city’s answer to Big Day Out, Lollapalooza and Glastonbury will feature acts as diverse as Eminem, Death Cab for Cutie, Janelle Monáe, Elvis Costello and Beirut in 2011.
August 5-14, 2011
Mikhail Youzhny at 2009 Rogers Cup – Photo credit
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and co. will take the court at Stade Uniprix in the premier ATP World Tour Masters event and U.S. Open tune-up.
World Film Festival
August 18-28, 2011
The avant-garde World Film Festival is a boon for avid cinephiles.
Pop International Music Festival
September 21-25, 2011
Despite the name, Pop Montréal is not a generic celebration of popular music but a paragon showcase of next gen musical talent and independent art forms. Perhaps the most eclectic festival on the city events calendar.
Best hotels in Montreal for summer festival season.