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Rock, Roll, History and Culture at the Quebec City Summer Festival

Quebec City Summer Festival ©2013 Mike Williams
Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré ©2013 Mike Williams
Quebec-Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre ©2013 Mike Williams
Quebec Montmorency Falls ©2013 Mike Williams

Rock, Roll, History and Culture at the Quebec City Summer Festival

story by: Mike Williams

Music lover? Art aficionado? Street performer enthusiast? History and architecture buff? Wannabe French speaker? The Quebec City Summer Festival, or Festival d'été de Québec as it’s known locally, has something for everyone. Over 11 days every July, the beautiful and historic Old Quebec rustles up twelve indoor and outdoor stages and some of the biggest names in rock, hosting 1.5 million festival goers, over 1,000 artists and nearly 300 shows.

But we’re not talking about some muddy mosh pit  taken over by the thousands of unwashed youth: The Festival d'été de Québec is a unique opportunity to enjoy some of the world’s biggest acts, aspiring musical artists in a cultured, beautiful and historically charged setting. Over the last few years the festival has showcased such acts as Kiss, Sting, Styx, Metallica, Ben Harper, Elton John, Lionel Richie, LMFAO, The Offspring, Roger Waters, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith and many more.

The outdoor performance arenas include the Plains of Abraham, site of the pivotal 1759 battle in the Seven Years' War, the Parc de la Francophonie, and the Place d'Youville. There are also indoor venues, such as Grand Théâtre de Québec for classical music, as well as the city’s many bars and nightclubs offering everything from jazz to electronic music. Street performers will grab your attention throughout the city, and don’t miss the free Cirque du Soleil performance, always one of the festival’s highlights. There are also dedicated family-friendly venues, such as the "Place de la famille" site. The festival, the largest of its kind in Canada, has been taking place annually since 1968 and in 2008 it celebrated the 400th anniversary of the founding of the city.

Most of the restaurateurs and shopkeepers speak both English and French, so it’s a great chance to brush off your high school French and impress your fellow travellers. There’s plenty to explore inside the city, but also many day trip options, like visiting the massive Montmorency Falls or the oldest pilgrimage site in North America—the breathtaking Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré.

The Historic District of Old Quebec is among UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, a mecca for art and history lovers and magical place to visit throughout the year. However, if you like concerts but are sometimes intimidated by other festivals, then don’t miss Quebec City Summer Festival, even if you can’t stay for 11 days.

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