Montréal launches Carnaval des couleurs festival

Richard Burnett

The inaugural edition of Montréal’s multi-cultural Carnaval des couleurs arts, dance and music festival will be held from October 5 to 8, during the Canadian Thanksgiving and American Columbus Day Weekend.

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All for one, one for all

Carnaval des couleurs will present family-friendly entertainment on four outdoor stages located on the lively one-kilometre-long Aires Libres pedestrian mall on Sainte-Catherine Street in the Gay Village.

There will be a DJ stage, the live-music stage will feature such headliners as popular Montréal pop and soul divas Stéphane Moraille and Johanne Blouin, and the performance stage will present dance companies, dance classes, circus acts, drag queens and other entertainers.

There will also be three thematic zones: a visual arts and fine crafts area, a family area and a foodie area. Also, on the evening of October 6, there will be a street procession and major multimedia show from 9 pm to 11 pm.

“This street festival is open to everybody,” says organizer Robert Vézina, who also runs Montréal’s famed Black & Blue Festival, which runs from October 3 to 9.

Adds Vézina, “Carnaval des couleurs is a festive environment with a new twist, meaning we don’t want to recreate what Montréal Pride offers in the summer. We are creating a new carnival with a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural flavor.”

Under the Rainbow

Carnaval des couleurs will be held on the lively one-kilometre-long Aires Libres pedestrian mall on Sainte-Catherine Street in the Gay Village. Montréal’s famed “18 Shades of Gay” installation – designed by world-renowned landscape architect Claude Cormier – covers the pedestrian mall, which stretches east from Saint-Hubert Street (Berri-UQAM metro) to Cartier Street (Papineau metro).

 “18 Shades of Gay” is not just a decorative element – it is an iconic art installation made of 180,000 rainbow-coloured resin balls.

Says Vézina, “The City of Montréal has granted our request to extend the summertime ‘Rainbow Balls’ installation and street closure until the end of our festival, which will further animate the street during Carnaval des couleurs.”


Multi-Cultural Vision

Carnaval des couleurs will also host a free conference whose theme is inclusion, diversity and living together, and which will take place on October 6 at the Gouverneur Hotel Place Dupuis, in collaboration with multicultural groups and the LGBTQ community.

Vézina says, “Carnaval des couleurs is about the cosmopolitan flavor of the Montréal community. Ours is an outreach event. If LGBTQ people can party and have a good time in the rest of the city – which we do – then the rest of the city can also have a good time in the Gay Village! The values of Carnaval des couleurs is that we are all equal. Our festival is designed to appeal to everybody.”

Carnaval des couleurs runs from October 5 to 8. For more information, visit

Richard Burnett

Richard Burnett, blogger

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

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