Montreal’s summer scene sparkles with a diverse array of festivals, ranging from renowned names featured at marquee festivals to local favorites just waiting to be uncovered. Whether you’re grooving to the headline acts or exploring the unique charm of the under-the-radar festivals, each event promises an experience. Step out of your comfort zone, mingle with new faces, and immerse yourself in the unforgettable memories Montreal’s festivals have to offer.
Food Truck Festival
WHEN: May to October
This festival is a gastronomic journey at the iconic Olympic Stadium, where 50 food trucks create a vibrant, flavor-packed world. Here, the essence of Montreal’s summer festivals is captured in every bite, from global cuisines to local favorites. DJs set the rhythm, making this more than just a feast – it’s a multi-sensory celebration.
Mondial de la bière
WHEN: Late May
Mondial de la Bière is a standout event ifor those keen to explore local beer culture. This festival is a hotspot for meeting local beer connoisseurs and sampling a wide range of locally-made beers, especially from small-batch microbreweries that define Montreal’s dynamic beer scene. It’s more than just tasting; it’s about engaging with the artisans behind the brews, sharing stories, maybe even grab a quintessential poutine, and celebrating the craft.
Top Montreal events: Francos de Montréal
Francos de Montréal, a centerpiece among Montreal summer festivals, is a linguistic leap into the heart of French culture. Drawing over a million attendees, this festival turns the downtown core into a hub of Francophone musical talent, showcasing a diverse array of artists and genres.
It’s a great opportunity to brush up on your French before heading on to the countryside, where Englis is not as widely spoken.
The Mural Festival is a highlight for urban development and art enthusiasts alike! The event transforms the city into a living gallery, adorning the Plateau Mont-Royal neighborhood with stunning murals. It’s a celebration where street art paints the city with stories and colors, inviting everyone to walk through a living canvas. Boulevard Saint-Laurent is closed for the occasion and welcomes a variety of food trucks, artisan vendors and free outdoor concerts.
The best music festival in Montreal: Montreal Jazz Festival
WHEN: late June
Festival de Jazz de Montréal stands as the crescendo of Montreal summer festivals. This iconic event brings a jazzy jamboree to the city with both paid indoor and free outdoor performances. Jazz legends and emerging talents alike fill the air with music, creating a symphony of sounds under the shimmering summer sky right in the heart of downtown Montreal.
Fête nationale du Québec
WHEN: June 24
Fête nationale du Québec, celebrated on June 24, is a vibrant expression of Quebec’s rich French heritage and culture. This holiday is an ideal opportunity to engage with French-speaking locals, experience the unique customs of Quebec, and deepen your understanding of the province’s strong Francophone identity. With lively parades, music, and festivities across Montreal, it’s a perfect occasion for visitors to immerse themselves in the distinct culture and language of Quebec, making it a highlight among Montreal’s summer festivals.
Montréal Complètement Cirque
Montréal Complètement Cirque transforms the city into a circus wonderland. It showcases breathtaking acrobatics and performance art, turning the city’s streets into stages for awe-inspiring shows. In a way, it is a tribute to Montreal’s circus heritage, as it is here that Le Cirque du Soleil was founded and continues to operate.
Fantasia Film Festival
Fantasia Festival is a cinematic odyssey and a gem among Montreal summer festivals. Blending horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and anime, it offers movie buffs an eclectic array of genre films. The festival is a journey through storytelling and imagination, capturing the spirit of Montreal in every frame.
Just for Laughs
WHEN: late July
Just for Laughs, Montreal’s comedic crown jewel, adds a burst of laughter to the city’s heavy music program. Offering a spectrum of entertainment from stand-up comedy to circus acts, this festival fills Montreal with humor and joy, making it a must-visit for comedy lovers worldwide.
What is the biggest music festival in Montreal? Osheaga!
WHEN: late July/early August
Osheaga stands as a musical pillar among Montreal’s summer festivals. It’s where music lovers from all over North America gather to hear a mix of big names and indie rising stars, creating a symphony of diverse sounds and styles. But what makes it so special is its location, right in Jean-Drapeau Park, with the Montreal skyline and the St. Lawrence River as its backdrop.
Fierté Montréal is a celebration of inclusivity and diversity and a cornerstone of Montreal’s LGBTQ identity. It features extravagant displays throughout the Gay Village as well as a significant community program focused on local non-profit organizations. The week-long festivities culminate with the iconic Pride Parade down René-Lévesque Boulevard, famous for its vibrant floats, lively music and entertainers of all kinds.
La Virée classique OSM
La Virée classique OSM is a celebration of classical music under the open skies of Montreal, led by some of the finest names in the genre. With a whopping 26 concerts, this festival is a continuum of symphonic soirees that enriches Montreal’s music festival line-up with its harmonious blend of global musical traditions in some of the city’s most scenic locations. Including Mont-Royal Park and the Olympic Stadium Plaza!
In picnic mode, with a small local beer in hand, this is truly a typical Montreal summer experience.
WHEN: late August
MUTEK is a digital and electronic music festival, a beacon of avant-garde audio and virtual experiences. It’s pretty much the holy grail of electronic music festivals in Montreal and it showcases cutting-edge electronic music and digital art, offering a futuristic vision of creativity and innovation.
WHEN: May to October
Piknic Électronik is a weekly electronic music extravaganza against the stunning backdrop of the Montreal skyline. A key part of Montreal summer festivals, it offers a perfect setting for dancing and enjoying the beats of both international and local DJs.
Cover photo credit: Jean-François Hamelin/Bonjour Québec