Translated into “Quebec Summer Festival” in English, the Festival d’été de Quebec is one of, if not the, largest outdoor music events in Canada.
The festival hosts a wide range of artists and provides a massive party atmosphere.
Quebec’s Summer Festival
A July staple in Quebec City, the Festival was cancelled for the first time in its over 50-year history in 2020 due to COVID-19. In 2021 the festival returned in a much smaller capacity, with an all-Quebec lineup of performers as well as both in-person and virtual events.
In non-pandemic years the festival is one of the biggest parties of the summer. It takes place over 11 days and attracts over a million people during that time. There are artists from all sorts of musical genres meaning that there is usually something for everyone. The 2022 event is scheduled to be more of a return to normal with a festival from July 7th to 17th headlined by Rage Against the Machine.
There is not just one venue either. While the main stage is located at the Plains of Abraham, there are usually about nine other venues set up around downtown Quebec City. Recent festivals prior to 2020 had over 200 different artists performing. The whole event is non-stop music!
Some of the stages are designated for specific styles. There’s one specifically for local artists and also one for electronic music and late night shows. And of course, if you want to see the biggest names you go to the Plains of Abraham.
Street performers often set themselves up in the paths between the different stages, providing further kinds of entertainment. There are usually kid-friendly activities too! If you go downtown during festival time, you’re definitely going to notice what’s happening.
Rather than buy individual tickets to different shows, you can buy a full festival pass good for all 11-days. The pass costs about $110 if you buy it in advance in normal years, and $120 if you buy it in the final month before the festival. There is often a limit of 125,000 passes available and they come with a wristband and a blinking pin.
While re-selling the pass is not allowed, it is transferrable. This means that buying one together with a friend or two could be a great option if you’re not looking to go to shows every day of the festival.
Children ten years and younger can typically enter for free when accompanied by an adult. However, there is a limit of two children per adult most years.
Something else important to note is that these passes don’t guarantee seating at the different venues each day. Capacity is limited, so if you arrive at a stage that is packed you’ll be turned away. If there is a specific artist you really want to see make sure to arrive early! If you are turned away from a specific site, there should be other options to explore as well.
In normal years, in addition to the regular passes there are three different premium options that give guaranteed seating at the Plains of Abraham main stage for the entirety of the festival.
The least expensive of these three is the Bell Signature Zone pass which costs about $470 for grandstand seating. The most expensive is the Gold Front Stage Zone pass which costs $713. It’s pricey, but if you want a spot right at the front then it can be worth it.
Everyone regardless of age must have a pass in the premium seating options. This means that children do not get in free like with the general passes.
While the event in 2021 was smaller than usual and only featured Quebec artists, Rage Against the Machine has been announced as a headlining act for 2022. The lineup should be massive this year, especially when compared to the 2021 festival. As of mid-January, however, a full schedule has not yet been released.
To give you an idea of what you can expect in future years, here are some of the biggest names from the last few editions:
- 2019: Twenty One Pilots, Mariah Carey, Imagine Dragons, Blink-182, Lynyrd Skynyrd
- 2018: The Weeknd, Neil Young, Shawn Mendes, Foo Fighters, Future
More Important Info
For those with limited mobility there are reserved sections at the main stage. Spots in those zones must be booked in advance on the Festival d’été de Quebec website.
Drinks are sold at all the festival venues and there are event-run food options at the Plains of Abraham. The festival is a popular time for food trucks to come serve the crowds. Given that a lot of the event takes place downtown, there are plenty of restaurants and bars nearby as well!
Even if it rains the festival usually marches on (unless it’s a full thunderstorm). Bring a rain jacket if the weather doesn’t look nice, or buy a $5 poncho sold at some of the sites.
For more information visit the Festival d’été de Quebec website.
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