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5 Annual Summer Festivals You Don’t Want to Miss in Quebec City and Montreal

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Summer season is festival season in Quebec, and some of the country’s biggest and most famous events are held in Quebec City and Montreal over two short months: July & August. Here are five of the major summer festivals you won’t want to miss -- in fact, you may even want to plan your trip around one (or all!) of them.

Note: All prices are quoted in Canadian dollars.

1. Festival d’été de Québec

The Festival's main stage on the Plains of Abraham, Quebec City.
Photo (c) FEQ/Renaud Philippe.
In a nutshell: Canada’s largest outdoor music festival.
More details: International superstars (The Black Eyed Peas, Sting and Paul McCartney have been featured at the festival in the past) and top new talent from around the world perform over eleven days on twelve indoor and outdoor stages for crowds that can reach 80,000 people.
When: 11 days in early July (In 2012: July 5-15)
Where: Downtown Quebec City.
Tickets: The full 11-day Festival Pass is quite inexpensive ($66 each) considering the impressive lineup of events it gives access to and understandably, they sell out quickly every year. A visitor’s best bet to access the festival biggest shows is to buy day passes ($30 each). Some hotels also sell packages that include Festival passes.

2. Festival International de Jazz de Montréal

The crowd on Place des Festivals, the heart of Festival International de Jazz de Montréal.
Photo (c) Victor Diaz Lamich.
In a nutshell: The world’s largest jazz festival.
More details: 3,000 musicians and public entertainers from 30 countries, 1,000 concerts and activities (two-thirds of them free), in 15 concert halls and on 10 outdoor stages. The festival welcomes over two million jazz-lovers every year.
When: 10 days in late-June and early July (In 2012: June 28-July 7)
Where: Downtown Montreal.
Tickets: Tickets for major shows are sold by the concert halls or online. Hotels from two to five stars also offer a variety of tickets & accommodation packages.

3. Just for Laughs Festival

The mascot of Just For Laughs Festival, Montreal.
Photo (c) Béatrice Noël.
In a nutshell: The world’s largest comedy event.
More details: Over 2,000 gala performances, theater, club shows and outdoor performances gathering the biggest name in comedy. Three-quarters of the events are free and performances are held in English or French, while some are even bilingual or silent. 2012 marks the festival’s 30th anniversary.
When: Late July (In 2012: July 10-29)
Where: Downtown Montreal.
Tickets: Sold online, by phone or at the Just for Laughs Box Office (2111, St. Laurent Blvd). Passes that cover access to three shows and last-minute tickets are also available for CAD$99 each. Hotels also offer a variety of tickets & accommodation packages.

4. Osheaga, Music and Arts Festival

Cypress Hill at Osheaga Music and Arts Festival in 2011, in Montreal.
Photo (c) Tony Felgueiras.
In a nutshell: A European-style festival dedicated to showcasing music and visual arts.
More details: Over 90 indie rock and hip hop bands performing for thousands of music lovers. Coldplay, Iggy & The Stooges, Sonic Youth, Cypress Hill, Arcade Fire and Eminem have all performed at Osheaga in the past. The 2012 edition includes The Black Keys, Snoop Dogg, Franz Ferdinand and many more.
When: Three days in early August (In 2012: August 3-5)
Where: Sold online or in person at the Bell Centre Box Office (1909, avenue des Canadiens de Montréal). One to three-day general admission passes available, from $85 to $222.50. Three-day reserved seating passes are also available for $318 (sold out for 2012).

5. The World Film Festival, Montreal

The World Film Festival, Montreal.
Photo (c) Bruno Châtelin.
In a nutshell: One of the most prestigious film festivals in the world.
More details: Every year, films from over 75 countries are selected for competition at the Montreal World Film Festival. Awards are given in nine different sections, including the prestigious World Competition. Many films have first been discovered in Montreal in past festival editions.
When: Twelve days in Late August (In 2012: August 23-September 3)
Where: Films are shown in well-known venues around the city center. During the festival, a portion of Ste-Catherine Street is also closed to traffic for “Cinema Under the Stars”.
Tickets: Individual screening tickets are sold for $10 each or 10 for $70. Passes are also available from $100 to $750.

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