Quebec City comes alive during the summer months. Once the city has shaken off the ice and snow, festivals and events take over. Whether you’re into sports, music, fireworks, or something a little different, this city has something to keep your days full and your mind inspired.
Quebec Capitales Games
Take me out to the ball game, a Quebec Capitales ball game that is. From May until September, enjoy this outdoor sporting experience at Municipal Stadium, while eating a hotdog and drinking a cold beer. On a balmy Quebec City night, you’ll love watching these Can-Am League players slide into home plate.
Où tu vas quand tu dors en marchant...?
Translated as “where do you go when you sleepwalk…?” this outdoor theater festival put on by Carrefour International De Théâtre brings Quebec City neighborhoods to life through creative scenes. With five experiences to enjoy — from puppeteering to mixed visual arts — explore the cobblestone streets while taking in French-Canadian culture. No matter where you wander, it will feel like a dream.
Love to laugh? This festival is for you. ComediHa! takes place over 12 days and features all kinds of comedy. From stand-up to theatre, and improv to comic strips, you’re sure find something that will make you chuckle. With international acts on the docket, including this year’s headliner Corey Hart, Quebec City is the place to be for comedy junkies this June.
Fête nationale dans la Capitale
Celebrating Quebec’s National Holiday, Saint-Jean Baptiste Day, this festival encompasses a different theme each year to honor Quebec City’s past, and explore its future. Featuring an outdoor concert on the Plains of Abraham, this year’s theme is “Quebec, pure art” and will feature eight acts on site to entertain you and the rest of the vibrant crowd.
The Transat Québec Saint-Malo
Enjoy some nautical history and competition on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. The Transat Quebec Saint-Malo is the oldest non-stop boat race from east to west and it only happens every four years, meaning you definitely should check it out in 2016. Teams travel through the St. Lawrence, out into the Atlantic Ocean, all the way to Saint-Malo in France. Covering 2,897 nautical miles, this event kicks off on July 10, but before the boats set sail, there’s live music, films, and entertainment in the Bassin Louise area of the city. Take it all in then track the boats on their first day until they hit open waters.
Festival d’été de Québec
Is 11 days enough time to explore 300 shows and 10 stages? Find out at the Festival d’été de Québec. As the festival takes over the historic district of the city, you’ll be treated to world-class musical acts like Sting and Peter Gabriel, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Fetty Wap, Selena Gomez, Duran Duran, and more. With over 40 years of history, you know that this festival has good times and even better shows down pat. Don’t forget to check out the street performers and night festivities too!
If you’re not keen on running away to join the circus, you can run to Quebec City to watch it. This free outdoor circus show — think Cirque du Soleil over cheesy clowns — happens at dusk adding a certain element of mystery to the skill the performers showcase. Stop by the Agora du port de Quebec from Tuesday to Sunday to enjoy this live show that will dazzle all your senses during those special twilight hours.
Whether you love water sports or wish you did, Nautical Fest will give you the chance to try just about any type you’d like. Held at various locations along the St. Lawrence River, this free (yes, free!) event gives you the chance to explore some of the pastimes Quebecers love most -- from wakeboarding and stand up paddleboard yoga, to sailing and canoeing. Though you might not become an expert during the two-day festival, you’ll definitely have a great time experiencing Quebec from the water.
Though this event is about 40 miles outside of the city in Forêt Montmorency, it’s too unique not to mention! The series of 90-minute concerts will have you enjoying both music and nature without having to travel too far from the city. Here, you’ll watch musicians perform on boats paying homage to the local wildlife through their tunes. Make sure you reserve in advance as these concerts at dusk are a crowd favorite.
Fêtes de La Nouvelle-France
Relive old Europe in New France — from activities and performances, to reenactments and lectures. Celebrating the city’s rich history through spectacle, art, and the city itself, this 5-day festival truly showcases the history that has shaped Quebec City. Whether you love food, music, or theater, this festival will truly immerse you in diverse and vibrant French culture, past and present.
Plein Art Quebec
Understand the culture of Quebec through its artisans. This thirteen-day festival is a grand exhibition of all types of art and craft items, from glass and metal to textiles and ceramics, with a distinct focus on craftsmanship. Free to enjoy, you’ll be able to browse the vendors set up in Espace 400e, a cultural center built for the 400th anniversary of the founding of the city. Plus, you might even find a few unconventional souvenirs to take home.
Dîner en Blanc
An international event, Dîner en Blanc takes Quebec City by storm in early August. Get a group together, sport your best white ensemble, and assemble for a surprise pop-up picnic. Hosted at a location that’s kept secret until the last moment, you’ll find yourself dining with locals and travelers alike in the most quintessentially beautiful urban location. Paired with entertainment and good food (which you pack in yourself), you’ll want to make sure you add this event on your itinerary.
Festibière de Québec
Now’s the chance to really explore your meaningful relationship with this malt and barley beverage at a massively delicious beer festival. With over 60 exhibitors on site, you can discover not only new brews to sip, but also ciders and snacks to try. Once you’ve downed a glass or two, enjoy the live music and outdoor venues found around the Old Port of Quebec. Make sure you leave the car at the hotel for this one.
Les Grands Feux Loto-Quebec
See the historic architecture of Quebec City illuminated by this fireworks festival. For a total of six nights over the course of a few weeks, you’ll get to enjoy a pyromusical show that’s based on creative themes. If you want to skip out on the masses viewing the show from land, pay a small fee to view the spectacle from a floating platform or on a cruise — money well spent, we think.
Pair a plethora of festivals and events with killer food and a historic old town, and you’ve got a jam-packed Quebec City itinerary on your hands. Practice your “merci’s” and “bonjour’s” and you’ll be well on your way.
Looking for more to do in Quebec City? Visit the Quebec Region Tourism website for inspiration.