Festivals and events are simply a way of life in Montréal, with something grandiose happening literally every month of the year. Jazz, snowboarding, comedy, history, poutine — name an art form, urban sport or signature local dish, and you’ll find Montréal has a festival for it. Strategically speaking, festivals attract visitors, yes — but they also engender wider social benefits for the city all-around. Here’s why they’re a focal point in Montréal’s sport tourism strategy.
The sport of festivals and events
Festivals and events are a foundations element of the Montréal’s tourism development and marketing policies at large — and have been for decades. Osheaga recently brought Montréal notoriety as one of the 50 best festivals in the world, according to Billboard, while the Montréal International Jazz Festival was named one of the 50 greatest Canadian attractions by Lonely Planet. And who can blame them? It’s been a summer highlight in downtown Montréal since 1980.
Montréal can attest first-hand to the positive attention festivals draw internationally, not to mention their important social, cultural and environmental impact for residents as well. They build social capital, support cultural development, strengthen city image and provide a catalyst for urban regeneration.
Sport festivals as celebration
The motive for turning what would otherwise be international sporting events into bona fide festivals is simple: it provides a multifaceted offer for the traveller that extends beyond the particular sport and into the lifestyle. Offer your public a basketball game, and you’ll draw basketball fans — offer them a three-day basketball and breakdance festival with food, music, live entertainment and free family activities, and you’ve kickstarted a movement.
Festivals, like sports themselves, draw crowds across communities around one shared, positive moment. They’re inclusive and inviting, galvanizing and exciting! They turn an ordinary weekday in an ordinary season instantly extraordinary and potentially life-changing.
Not only can sports festivals unite a crowd of strangers, they provide a socially accepted context for the sharing and expressing of deep emotions. Whether your team wins or loses, if a world record is broken, if an extraordinary physical feat is performed — these are all cause for cries of joy, or even tears! No matter the age, creed, gender or culture, crowds united in sport are affected, inspired and moved together, on equal footing.
Sports festivals also inspire investment and the erection of structures that live on in the community for years to come — Montréal has a variety of edifices from the 1976 Summer Olympics, for example, that are still in constant use not only for sporting activities, but for events of all sorts.
Sports festivals that are putting Montréal on the map
A growing range of sports festivals and drawing crowds to Montréal in both the hot and cool seasons, with a special focus on our specialty, urban sports, and winter sports.
July 26 to 30, 2023
This summer SMASH Festival is hosting the World Beach Pro Tour Volleyball at Parc Jean-Drapeau, in a sun-kissed event that combines sport, entertainment and fun. The international volleyball elite will battle it out for the top spot in the rankings for the Paris Olympics in a festive context featuring music and activities for fans day and night.
August 25 to 27, 2023
For the past 10 years, Jackalope has been the ultimate gathering of Canada’s action sports communities — a meeting place for top athletes, industry professionals and enthusiasts alike. The festive atmosphere of Jackalope draws thousands to its world-class competitions and demonstrations by world-renowned skateboarding, bouldering, BASE jumping and breaking stars, all in a warm, inclusive atmosphere. There are pop-up shops, food trucks, lots of free fun and great live concerts.
September 1 to 3, 2023
At the DISTRIX Festival, the Places des Festivals and Complexe Desjardins draw the crowds as nearly 300 athletes and musicians come together to enthrall audiences with their colourful performances. Under the artist direction of local rapper, Dramatik, DISTRIX lights up the fall season with a vibrant cultural experience that brings together fans of rap, graffiti, 3X3 basketball and more, all free of charge.
Annually in February
Winter sport enthusiasts unite for this winter event amid the bustling cultural street of Rue Saint-Denis, in the heart of the Plateau neighbourhood, as it transforms into “Mont Saint-Denis” — an urban ski resort that combines the adrenaline of sports with artistic creation. Apik includes snowboarding and skiing competitions with renowned athletes, free fun, pop-up winter sports shops and outdoor dining and more for all to enjoy.
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