Fête Nationale celebrations begin across Quebec

·3 min read
After a two-year hiatus, hundreds of people are once again expected to fill Place des Spectacles for the Fête Nationale show Thursday evening. (Radio-Canada - image credit)
After a two-year hiatus, hundreds of people are once again expected to fill Place des Spectacles for the Fête Nationale show Thursday evening. (Radio-Canada - image credit)

Quebec's national holiday, Fête Nationale, returns in earnest this weekend, after most festivities were cancelled or reduced in the past two years due to the pandemic.

With public health restrictions like masks and distancing no longer mandatory, concerts, events and parties are expected to draw large crowds throughout the province starting this evening.

There are 5,000 activities planned in 650 different places across Quebec over the long weekend. Most events are free, and can be found on the Fête Nationale website.

Quebec City and Montreal are both hosting large concerts with some of Quebec's leading musical and entertainment talents.

The show in the provincial capital will be held tonight on the Plains of Abraham and will include performances by Innu songwriter Scott-Pien Picard, one of the concert's lead acts, as well as by Sara Dufour, Richard Séguin, Florent Vollant, Marjo, Marc Labrèche, Laura Niquay, Marco Calliari and Pépé et sa guitare.

Musical performances start at 6:30 p.m. and will last into the night.

In downtown Montreal, the Grand Spectacle is being held tonight at Place des Festivals with some of Quebec's leading musical talents, including Sarahmée, Les Louanges, Fouki, Patrice Michaud, Michel Pagliaro, Jay Scott and Alicia Moffet.

The show begins at 9 p.m. will include performances by 30 dancers and musicians.

Back in Quebec City, activities on Grande Allée begin at 3 p.m., with street acts like circus performance crew FlipFabrique.

If you're looking for something that connects you to nature instead of big live concerts, a 20-minute drive northwest of Quebec City, in Wendake, you'll find an immersive nighttime walk called Onhwa' Lumina.

The walk, produced by Moment Factory, is a kilometre-long pathway with light, sound and video projections. Tickets are $29 for adults.

Radio-Canada
Radio-Canada

If you're hoping to catch a specific Quebec artist's show, here's a list of some famous musicians and the cities they will be performing in:

  • Coeur de Pirate: Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.

  • Les Cowboys Fringants: Sherbroooke.

  • Vincent Vallières: Lavaltrie.

  • Ariane Moffatt: Gatineau.

  • Marie-Mai: Joliette.

Friday is the third edition of Festihood, a celebration of Fête Nationale in Montréal-Nord, hosted by Hoodstock, an advocacy group based in the borough.

Festihood starts at noon in the parking lot of the Maison culturelle et communautaire de Montréal-Nord at 12004 Boulevard Rolland. There will be a parade that will showcase 30 local artists and distribute 20,000 meals to residents.

The event will have "a family-friendly celebratory vibe that will bring life to the hood all afternoon," according to a news release by Hoodstock.

Closures

Grocery stores, SAQ and SQDC outlets will be closed on Friday, June 24, but open for the rest of the weekend.

Retail stores and shopping centres across the province are also closed. Dépanneurs, or corner stores, are generally open. Some pharmacies may be open, as the decision is left up to owners.

Gas station are allowed to be open. Municipal offices and libraries are closed and public transit will operate on a reduced schedule on Friday and Saturday.

Exceptionally, Service Canada passport offices will remain open, because of the significant delays and lineups that have occurred in the past week.

Holiday history

The roots of the holiday can be traced back to the pagan custom of celebrating the summer solstice by lighting bonfires on the longest day of the year. Historians say the custom was adopted by Catholics in the 4th Century, who eventually named it Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day.

The day has been celebrated in Quebec since the territory was a French colony known as New France in the 17th Century.

It took a political turn in the 19th Century when newspaper editor Ludger Duvernay advocated for the province to have a national holiday for French Canadians, inspired by St. Patrick's Day celebrations by the Irish in Montreal.

In 1977, former premier René Levesque changed the name for the holiday in Quebec from Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day to Fête Nationale, distancing it from its religious roots and embracing its nationalist sentiment.

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