In the summer of 2013, I road tripped from Arizona all the way to Québec. I had never been to the province or the city of Québec, so I really did not know what to expect. What I discovered was a part of Canada rich in its European roots…full of history, iconic architecture and a passion for food and entertainment. While I spent nearly two weeks in the province of Québec, my guiding objective was to visit Québec City for the 46th annual music festival.
Earlier in 2013, I attended a Jesse Cook concert in Wickenburg, Arizona, which was fantastic. I will digress for just a moment to say that if you get a chance to see Jesse Cook live…do it. Jesse is a guitarist, composer and producer who is widely considered to be one of the most influential figures in “Nuevo Flamenco” music. The band integrates many instruments that will likely be foreign to you. The sounds are upbeat, soulful and energizing.
Back to the story: I was invited backstage after the concert where I had an opportunity to strike up a conversation with Mr. Cook. During our conversation, Mr. Cook asked me what I did. I proceeded to tell him I was a travel blogger and that I had plans to spend a good part of the summer in the northeast. When he learned of my geographic destination, he suggested that if I could, I really should visit Québec City—that it was one of his favorite cities in the world. This, coming from a well-known musician who has traveled the world, told me it was something I should take to heart.
A few weeks later I was in New York City for a Canadian travel conference where I met tourism representatives from Quebec City. It was fate…I would be going to the French settlement of Québec!
After a few months of road tripping, I had finally made it to Québec City. I stayed at the Hilton Hotel which was located right in the heart of the action…I was able to walk to every venue/stage. The Hilton was the communications and entertainment hub for all Festival d’été de Québec activities, which meant that I was staying at the same place as all the other media representatives and musicians. The buzz in the hotel was euphoric.
This was the 46th annual Quebec City Music Festival (or Festival d’été de Québec) and so they’re able to attract some pretty big names to the event. This year the headliners included; Bruno Mars, Rush, Weezer, Foreigner, Def Leppard, Emylou Harris, Stevie Wonder and the Black Keys just to name a few. There were many lesser known bands that were quite incredible too, some of my favorites included Lisa LeBlanc, Nomadic Massive and Rod Le Stod.
The festival had more than 300 performances, on 10 different stages, over an eleven-day period. All the stages are located in the downtown area and are within walking distance from one another. You’ll also find an array of street performers throughout the winding streets of Old Town Québec: from a drummer using trash cans and buckets, to traditional French artiste de rue. The city is so alive and bustling with excitement during the festival that the energy is contagious. The kids will also find plenty of cool activities to keep them busy at Place de la Famille—games, activities, ziplines, live performances. The kids will have a blast.
Québec City is one of North America’s oldest and most splendid settlements. Its picturesque Old Town is a living museum of 17th and 18th century houses, narrow cobblestone streets, and soaring church spires. The architecture in both the new and old parts of Quebec City is quite remarkable. Overlooking the St. Charles River is the enormous and elegant, Château Frontenac towering above Old Town. There’s more than a glimmer of Old Europe in the sidewalk cafes, classic French bistros and inviting squares. The city’s compact size makes it ideal for walking and exploring all the nooks and crannies hidden throughout.
I was really drawn to Old Town, which is split between the Haute Ville (Upper Town), perched above the St Lawrence River on the Cap Diamant cliffs, and the Basse Ville (Lower Town), where Samuel de Champlain (a heroic figure) established the first French foothold in 1608. Old Town is clustered with museums, mansard-roofed houses and cobblestone streets…all of which beckon visitors to explore.
Québec City goes to great lengths to entertain visitors during the summer music festival. I was so impressed by how well-organized the event was, not to mention the quality of the talent. I would highly recommend making your travel plans soon if the Festival d’été de Québec sounds of interest as hundreds of thousands of folks will descend on the city.
Québec City Music Festival information:
Dates: The 2014 festival is scheduled for July 3-13
Price: Ridiculously cheap…the entire 11-day festival pass is only: $76 CAD
Website: Visit: http://www.infofestival.com/The-Festival