On the 24th of June every year, friends and families come together in Quebec to celebrate La Fête Nationale Du Quebec, also known as Saint Jean Baptiste Day, to commemorate the province’s patron saint and proudly showcase their French Canadian heritage.
For many in Quebec, this provincial national holiday is a chance to honour their identity and if you’re on holiday in Canada for Saint Jean Baptiste Day 2016, there’s plenty to see and do in the region.
Naturally, Quebec’s capital city Montreal is the place to be on the day, with a colourful array of parades, cultural displays, music events and entertainment making Saint Jean Baptiste Day 2016 a one-of-a-kind experience in Canada.
Check out our list of the key events happening in Montreal this year and be sure to bring your Quebec flag – the blue and white fleur-de-lis paints the city in New French patriotism throughout this weekend.
Thursday June 23rd
Fêtes de quartiers (street parties) across Montreal’s neighbourhoods – throughout the 23rd and 24th
For an authentic experience, join the city’s residents in a number of street parties across Montreal. You never know what you’ll find around the corner as the whole city celebrates its unique culture over the Saint Jean Baptiste weekend!
Le Grand Spectacle at the Place Des Festivals – from 8:00 p.m.
Montreal’s foremost celebration sees thousands of revellers from across the province descend on Place Des Festivals for a spectacular line-up of musical acts, dance performances and more. True to patriotic tradition, the show is spoken or sung entirely in French.
The Great Poutine Fest at Jacques-Cartier Quay on Montreal’s Old Port – throughout and until June 26th
If all this celebrating has worked up an appetite, why not stop by Jacques-Cartier Quay in Old Montreal and try the national dish loved by all Canadians? Poutine is a satisfying meal of chips and homemade gravy topped with cheese curds – trust us, your local chip shop’s offering will never quite live up to this!
Friday June 24th
The headline event of every Saint Jean Baptiste Day is, of course, the grand parade starting at the corner of Sainte-Catherine Street. Now in its 182nd year, an incredible amount of detail goes into bringing Quebec’s history alive on the streets of Montreal. This year is no different with 2016’s theme of “My Quebec, I love it this much” promising to be a truly patriotic showcase. Be sure to find a spot along the street early if you don’t want to miss the amazing floats, acts and giant historical characters as they parade through the city.
Saint-Jean Baptiste day at Canada Place – 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Showcasing Canada’s French-influenced cultural arts, the event at Canada Place is a lively display of music, dancing and theatre acts to entertain the little ones and honour Quebec’s Francophone heritage. You can also try some of the culinary foods the New France province is known for from vendors at the event.
Festivités de la Fête Nationale featuring Montreal’s official bonfire at the Olympic Park – from 8:00 p.m.
The custom of lighting a bonfire around the summer solstice goes back centuries. While it may not directly link to Saint Jean Baptiste Day, when in Rome (or Montreal) as they say! Regardless, this community gathering is certainly not one to be missed. There’ll be music accompanied by the warm glow of the city’s largest annual bonfire.
Out of the fire…on to the plate! If you’re looking to fill up after the bonfire, why not enjoy the special themed BBQ at Le Mechant Loup? Located a little way out of the city centre on the Chemin de Chambly, this spot is the perfect stop off for those with car hire in Canada heading back to their accommodation after a day of festivities.
Montreal’s Chinatown Street Fair – throughout
Saint Jean Baptiste Day may be about acknowledging Quebec’s French roots, but in Montreal it’s a celebration for all and the city’s Chinatown certainly puts on a good spread! For a little cultural diversion, make like many locals and head to this district in Montreal to browse the stalls or sample some Asian street food in between the day’s major events.