Montréal’s annual comedy festival is back and flashbracket was there too to soak up the summer laughs. Every year, we try to see one or two shows, and this year we opted for The Ethnic Show hosted by Maz Jobrani and Date Night: The Relationship Show hosted by Godfrey. But you don’t need to buy tickets to partake in this summer festival favourite — head to Montréal’s Quartier des Spectacles at Place-des-arts metro and see the free outdoor stage events, spontaneous on-the-road magic and comedy acts, and a funk-playing bank dressed up as aliens (see picture below).
The last night of Montréal Jazz Festival, officially known as Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, closed on Sunday after eleven days of free and outdoor concert events, ticketed attractions, and lots and lots (and lots) of roaming spectators across the grounds at Place des Arts in Montréal.
The 35th edition of this annual summer festival did not disappoint. The lineup of free and outdoor, or ticketed (with fees) events included a range of artists that were not only rooted in jazz but meandered into the other usual genres such as pop, hip hop and rock. This year’s participants had heavy hitters such as Cassandra Wilson, Angélique Kidjo, Keith Jarrett, married couple Elvis Costello and Diana Krall (who performed individual events), Tony Bennett, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, and Mulatu Astatke; Canadians Rufus Wainwright, Nikki Yanovsky, Coeur de Pirate, Barenaked Ladies, and Michael Bublé; and contemporaries represented by Snoop Dogg, Of Montreal, St. Vincent, frequent participant Ben Harper, Bonobo, and Deltron 3030 who closed the festival with a free outdoor concert.
As promised in the previous post, here are the balloon photos from the Festival de Montgolfières (Festival of Balloons), the annual summer festival at Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. The small city is just 40 minutes southeast of Montréal, and is a celebration of air sports, family time and Québecois culture. Balloons take off at 6 pm every evening during the festival off the airport grounds of the National Defence training centre.
My favourite balloons were the fire hydrant, the blue smiling character, and the Canadian and Québec ones, of course. Which ones were yours?
International de Montgolfières de Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu
5 Chemin de l’Aéroport
Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Québec J3B 7B5
Québec is a province that loves air sports. It’s very common to see paragliders, hand gliders, and other air vehicles in the sky when you drive around outside the island of Montréal, something I never saw when I was growing up in the Toronto suburbs. So it only makes sense that this province would host a balloon festival every summer in the form of Festival de Montgolfières (Festival of Balloons) in the city of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, 40 minutes south-east of Montréal. I have a friend who is a big fan of balloons and blimps, and since we didn’t make it to the festival last year we made sure to catch the event on the last day of the 2013 festival.
Just For Laughs mascots at the Twins Parade
Every year at Montréal’s Just For Laughs festival, the comedy organization holds the incredible Twins Parade where twins from around the world are invited to march in this surreal event. This means that twins, triplets, and sometimes quintuplets arrive in this city as part of yet another summer festival and march down the streets in a themed, coordinated fashion. This year’s parade theme was “Cowboys and Cowgirls” and took place yesterday, Saturday July 27th.
Unfortunately, my plans to watch the parade and attend one of the many featured shows — this year’s comedians included the likes of Dave Chapelle, Joan Rivers, Godfrey, Jimmy Carr, and others — fell through. However, I did dig up some photos from a Twins Parade a few years back and while these photographs do not bring the event any justice, they do provide a snapshot of some moments in the entertaining event. My best description of this event is that it is like a dive through the rabbit hole — taking in this parade is truly bizarre (everyone looks the same!) — and you may start wondering what substance got tossed into your coffee this morning. Just For Laughs 2013 closes today, so if you did not catch the festival this year come back next year in mid-July to partake in all the fun the festival has to offer. Go to www.hahaha.com for more details.
Twins walking down rue St. Denis, organized by age group
Just For Laughs Festival at Metropolis
Welcome to the fifth instalment of the Montréal Bachelor(ette) Party Planning Guide. Previous posts on the series outlined the bachelor/bachelorette party scene and hotels here in Montréal, restaurants (parts one and two), and bars and clubs. A listing and links to the previous posts can be found at the end of this post.
Today’s guide focuses on the various activities that your party group can plan for your trip to Montréal. Thankfully, in addition to all the restaurants, bars, clubs, lounges, and pubs that the city has to offer, we also have a slew of city-planned events happening year round. We love the arts, culture and shamelessly sexy business so Montréal has just about something for everyone. Summers carry the bulk of the major events (and attract most tourists) since, well, Montréal is pretty cold city during most seasons. If you get here for July and August, you are almost guaranteed the hot and sticky weather many Americans and Canadians from the rest of the country experience; May and June can sometimes hold onto the regular programming. That being said, make sure you check the weather forecast for the city prior to launching on your trip, and remember that carrying an umbrella and dressing in layers can thwart the possibility of you walking around the city cold and wet (it happens to us all the time).
So here is a (non-comprehensive) list of major events in Montréal starting from the beginning of the year in January. Note that some of the events listed take place in multiple seasons, especially the festivals that start in spring and end in the fall, so check out the Spring listings if you are planning your visit for the summer or fall months. Additionally, year-round activities that you and your group can pursue regardless of the season are also listed at the end of the post. Make sure to click on the links (in bold) to find out the exact dates and more details of each event.
Igloofest in the Old Port
Considering how cold the city can get in the winter (-30°C without windchill anyone? I will go ahead and translate that to -22ºF for American readers), you would think Montréalers would be huddled away at home toasting our baguettes on an open fire. Well, if you have been living here in this city long enough, you know that the winter stinks and you cannot get away from it. So what do you do? Embrace it! Which means we even hold outdoor festivals in the dead of winter in the form of Igloofest. Igloofest — as the name implies — is an outdoor electronic music festival that is scheduled in mid-January to early February. Here you will find bars built with ice blocks, revellers bundled in parkas and snow boots (do not attempt to wear skimpy running shoes!), and DJ’s rocking away in the cold. And pick up some kitschy but cool Igloofest hats as your souvenir and proof that you braved the Montréal winter.
Another year, another 10 days of Montréal Jazz Festival (Festival International de Jazz de Montréal). Tonight was hot, humid, and slightly cooled down after a short stint of rain but the weather did not deter the bustle of people at the festival. Per usual, the grounds around Place des Arts were swamped with families, young people, dating couples, and curious visitors of all ages to watch buskers perform circus acts and the many free outdoor concerts held each day.
The festival is the largest jazz festival in the world, boasting 3,000 artists from 30 countries with more than 1,000 concerts, most of which are free. I was lucky to catch The Dynamites & Charles Walker at the Scène TD de la place des Festivals stage on the west side of Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal along rue Jeanne-Mance and Avenue du Président-Kennedy. Watching the numerous band members supporting the charismatic Walker was simply fantastic. What a voice Walker has — he reminds me very much of the classic soul-blues singers such as Bobby “Blue” Bland (R.I.P.) as he swaggered in his full suit, sweat beads accumulating on his forehead. The jacket soon came off, however, with the crowds roaring in approval in the hot summer heat.