Brace for pyromusical mania
As sparkly things go, it doesn’t get bigger or better (or louder) than Montréal’s annual international fireworks competition. Attracting teams from around the world, L’International des Feux Loto-Québec, as it’s properly called, marries music to this ancient pyrotechnical art in a percussive, fiery choreography that can be seen and heard right across the city.
Location, location, location
Easily one of the highlights of Montréal’s summer season, the International des Feux Loto-Québec fireworks competition place over eight nights (July 1, 8, 15, 19, 22, 26, 29 and the grand finale on Aug. 5) in a one-of-a-kind setting that brings several of the city’s iconic elements together for 30 minutes of eye (and ear) popping fun starting at 10 pm, rain or shine. The fireworks are launched from Six Flags amusement park La Ronde (situated on Île Ste-Hélène, just south of the historic Old Port of Montréal) up over the St. Lawrence River right beside the spectacular Jacques-Cartier Bridge, which in honour of the city’s 375th birthday, has been converted into a massive, illuminated, interactive art piece titled Living Connections.
And pyro for all!
Every year, the fireworks competition attracts close to three million people. While paid tickets (recommended) are available to watch the fireworks up close from seating inside La Ronde, tens of thousands of people typically line the Jacques-Cartier Bridge, which is closed to traffic, and the shores of the St. Lawrence on either of Île Ste-Hélène to watch for free. Tip: the musical accompaniment is broadcast over radio so bring headphones for your smartphone, or dust off that old transistor radio. (Ticket buyer bonus: you get to enjoy all La Ronde’s rides, including their giant new thrill ride Titan, which rises 45 metres over the park and goes 112 km/h carrying 40 passengers at a time.)
It’s blowin’ up huge
The IFLQ is the most prestigious event of its kind in the world, and for the first time in the competition’s 33-year history, the six teams invited in 2017 were chosen by Montrealers. Italy, Poland, Germany, France, England and Portugal will all compete under varying themes (e.g., France’s is “The Evolution of Music,” described as “a delightful musical journey, from Louis Armstrong to AC/DC”) for gold, silver and bronze awards. Check out all the programming here.
A thunderous ode to MTL
Given that the city turns 375 years young in 2017, the opening fireworks display is a tribute and “a hymn to Montréal.” It will feature an original soundtrack that ranges from rock to cabaret, folk, reggae and beyond as performed live by acclaimed Montréal singer/songwriter Ian Kelly. Also commemorating La Ronde’s 50th anniversary, this extra special evening has Olympic medalist, diving world champion and television host Alexandre Despatie as the event’s spokesperson. Word to the wise: if you want to watch from on or under the Jacques-Cartier Bridge, it’s always best to leave early as upwards of 50,000 people have been known to converge on the bridge at the same time.
Jamie O’Meara, blogger
Jamie O’Meara is a writer for The Montreal Gazette, C2 Montréal, Moment Factory and more. He also manages the PR Team at the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival and is the former Editor-in-Chief of alt-weekly newspaper HOUR Magazine.
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