Montréal celebrates Saint-Jean-Baptiste day

Isa Tousignant

HAPPY SAINT-JEAN! If you’re in Montréal over the weekend of June 24, you’re in luck – everyone will be celebrating with you. Québec’s national holiday, named after St. John the Baptist (the patron saint of French Canadians), is celebrated in Montréal with everything from neighbourhood parties (including outdoor jam sessions and community picnics) to a parade and a giant, no-holds-barred free music show. It’s all great fun. Come celebrate Saint-Jean like a local!

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National pride on the big stage

This huge FREE outdoor concert kicks the official celebrations off at the Place des Festivals on June 23 at 6:30 pm – we Québécois like to be mid-party when the clock strikes midnight and ring in the 24th in style from moment one (we also celebrate in the night on Christmas Eve, known as the réveillon). This raucous show features famous Québécois acts like the legendary Claude Dubois and Michel Rivard, as well as Brigitte Boisjoli, Vincent Vallières, Marie-Josée Lord, Klô Pelgag, Le Vent du Nord, Jean-Marc Couture, Martha Wainwright, Kim Richardson and Seba et Horg—all hosted by Guillaume Lemay-Thivierge. The Place des Festivals will also be animated with all sorts of related activities, so make sure you wander.

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A party parade downtown

The annual Saint-Jean-Baptiste parade takes place at night this year, on June 24, starting at 9:15 pm. There will be two paths to choose from, starting at the same time along de Maisonneuve, and culminating in the middle for a midnight party at Place des Festivals. (See what I was saying about midnight?) In the east end, the marching starts at Saint-Denis Street and de Maisonneuve at 9:15 pm; in the west, you’ll start at Peel and de Maisonneuve at the same time. From gorgeous floats to live music to acrobatics and animations, the parade is a fun reason for the whole family to stay up late.

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It takes a village

To find the full schedule of neighbourhood celebrations, head to this page (though it’s exclusively in French). It might be more fun to explore this city-wide, family-friendly celebration on a whim, sniffing out the street party nearest you! Neighbourhoods that have great all-day outdoor activities worth wandering through on both June 23 and 24 include Villeray (check out de Castelnau street between de Gaspé and Drolet for free musical performances), Hochelaga-Maisonneuve (the Olympic Stadium Plaza is animated with activities for the whole family), the Plateau (especially around Lafontaine Park), Rosemont (Pelican Park is the hot spot), Chinatown (in and around Sun Yat Sen Park) and Quartier latin (where two comedy galas and a show by Fanny Bloom will be held). And look up—there’ll be fireworks.

Isa Tousignant

Isa Tousignant, blogger

Isa Tousignant is an art and lifestyle writer based out of Montréal’s eclectic Park Ex neighbourhood. She is Contributing Editor for Canadian Art magazine and freelances full-time for a wide variety of magazines and brands. She’s also a jewellery designer and passionate about animal costumes and their role in contemporary art.

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