A Montreal Summer Festival Guide

Osheaga
Susan Moss
Susan Moss

Embrace the festival spirit in Montreal! Every summer, the city is crammed with a dizzying array of festivals.

Witness the world’s biggest names in music, watch the world’s greatest tennis players, or laugh it up at the best comedy festival on earth. Bring your shades and get ready for a party.

Montreal festivals in May

The month of May is technically spring time, but for Montreal it’s a sense-stimulating, digitally-driven summer teaser.

ELEKTRA is a progressive digital arts festival showcasing new creations in electronic music, video, cinema, performance, design, gaming, and interactive installation.

Chromatic offers eight days of creative arts, ranging from visual to digital and performance to interactive, high atop the iconic Mount Royal.

Don’t miss the overlapping multi-sensory MUTEK festival, an ode to the artists and innovators in electronic music, digital creativity, technology, and live performance.

Later in the month, the Festival TransAmériques lights up the city with compelling new works in contemporary dance and theatre.

Francofolies - Credit: Eva Blue

Montreal festivals in June

Brush up on your French in mid-June at Les FrancoFolies de Montreal, a celebration of the French-language with 180 free outdoor musical performances of pop, rock, blues, jazz, and world music.

Not long after, paint the town red, and plenty of other colours too, at MURAL Festival, devoted to showcasing the sublime world of urban art and graffiti in Montreal’s happening Plateau neighbourhood.

Proving it’s a cosmopolitan city with A-list pull, every June Montreal welcomes the Formula 1 Grand Prix du Canada, the only race of its kind in North America. Superfast cars and star-studded parties power this glitzy weekend. 

Swinging in at the end of June is the incomparable Montreal International Jazz Festival. Officially crowned the biggest jazz fest in the world, this granddaddy of festivals is all about musicians playing and people swaying in the Quartier des Spectacles downtown.

The Just for Laughs Festival - Credit: Asymetric/Finn O'Hara

Montreal festivals in July

The sun-kissed vibes of Africa arrive in Montreal in early July, with the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique. The event welcomes traditional and ground-breaking musicians from Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America as well as local talent.

If you’re into electronic, hip hop or indie music, Montreal’s got you covered with MEG Montreal, which runs from late July to early August.

Also in late July, the epic Osheaga Music and Arts Festival sees big names and emerging artists in indie pop, rock, hip hop, and electronic music share the stage for three days straight on scenic Île Sainte-Hélène. 

If you get your kicks from comedy, Montreal’s legendary Just For Laughs has been a springboard for some of the craft’s biggest names who, come July, fill comedy venues, downtown theatres, and nightclubs.

July also marks the start of the colour-popping pyrotechnics of the International des feux Loto-Québec, a fireworks competition that promises sky-high dazzle.

In mid-July, Montreal’s Uniprix Stadium welcomes the female superstars of tennis for the Rogers Cup tournament, where blistering serves, searing backhands, and killer smashes leave sports fans blown away and breathless.

Are you a culture-vulture? The world-famous Fantasia film festival wows with rarities and much-anticipated features in fantasy, horror, and science fiction, from mid-July to early August.

Zoofest is relatively new to Montreal’s festival scene, but has proven to be a hit with its line-up of stand-up, sketch comedy, burlesque, and general zaniness.

Circus artists from the Americas and Europe flaunt their creativity and flexibility during Montréal Complètement Cirque.

Meanwhile, the Montreal First Peoples Festival takes us back to the roots of Aboriginal cultures in Montreal, Canada, and around the world, with concerts, film screenings, and seminars from July through to August.

Montreal Festivals in August

Though Montrealers are a mellow bunch, they like a little head-banging too. Crowds rock out to death metal, hair metal, and more during early August’s Heavy Montreal.

IleSoniq, in mid-August, brings a sizzling line-up of new electronic dance and urban music to the city.

And proving that every weekend is another opportunity to party, Piknic Électronik satisfies electronic music cravings with top DJs and producers every Sunday at Parc Jean-Drapeau throughout the summer months.

The LGBT community shares its spirit during Montreal’s much-loved mid-August Pride events, including the exuberant and colourful Pride Parade, capping off a week of community and cultural events.

Around the same time, fans of symphony music are given a veritable tympanic treat when the Montreal Symphony Orchestra showcases its Classical Spree.

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