In 2008, the most French of North American cities celebrated its 400th anniversary. And, as Quebecers love the party as much as their history, they have prepared a hearty menu of celebrations. From small neighborhood parties to large-scale events, from street artists to Céline Dion, including Cirque du Soleil and Robert Lepage, ten months of festivities are planned in this metropolis with a provincial feel, where the French America. It's time to go to Quebec!
It all started in 1608
It is therefore here, on this promontory where the St. Lawrence narrows, that the great adventure of French America began. On July 3, 1608, the navigator Samuel de Champlain landed at a place called "Kebek" which, in the Algonquian language, means "where the river narrows". Champlain came to establish a fur trading post. The site chosen seems ideal. From the top of the promontory, Cap Diamant, the comings and goings on the St. Lawrence River are easily observable. The first French colonist built a residence and a store there for the fur trade with the Amerindians. The city of Quebec was born, even if twenty years after its foundation, it has only 72 inhabitants! The winters are, in fact, harsh and the good people of France little inclined to emigration ...
Quebec reached its peak by subsequently becoming the capital of New France in 1663. It remained so until 1759, when it fell into the hands of the British, four years before the end of French domination over the Americas. Since 1763, Quebec has only been the capital of Lower Canada, which will become Quebec. However, it has not lost its reputation as “Gibraltar of America”. It must be said that its position on a cape overlooking the St. Lawrence is quite impressive. And, 400 years after the founding of the city, its "old stones in the European" style, which has remained intact, still seduces tourists: Quebec is a piece of Europe in the land of America, a sort of city from the provinces set in the great outdoors, a village of Asterix in Canadian style. An exotic city!
Ten months of festivities
The city founded by Champlain has seen the big picture for its 400th anniversary: no less than ten months of festivities and 130 events are planned, from the small neighborhood party to the most prestigious commemorations. The Cirque du Soleil, Robert Lepage et Celine Dion are among the internationally known Quebec artists who take part in the celebration. Nearly six million people are expected in Quebec this year for an anniversary judiciously placed under the theme of the meeting of Europe and America, First Nations and newcomers, France and England.
If the kickoff was given during a large outdoor concert (!) On December 31, most of the events will take place next summer. In addition to exhibitions-events in the city's museums (such as The Louvre in Quebec) and large gatherings on historic sites such as the Plains of Abraham, the epicenter of the festivities will be at Espace 400e, located in the Louise Basin, in the Old Port of Quebec, at the junction of the Saint-Laurent and Saint-Charles rivers. From June 3, more than 2 performances in street arts, more than 000 workshops for children, round tables and numerous meetings will be organized there. It is also at the Louise Basin that the director Robert Lepage will offer, from June 100 to July 20, " The Image Mill », A mega-projection in three dimensions, on the past, the present and the future of Quebec. Lepage describes his project as a historical fresco inspired by the symbols and icons of the city and organized around the major themes of exploration, establishment, operation and communication.
Finally, note that an audience of prestigious guests should attend the city's official anniversary ceremony, which will take place on July 3 at the Basilica and the Plains of Abraham. It is rumored that Elizabeth II in person could attend. She is, after all, the head of state of Canada. A big free Celine Dion concert on August 22 and a closing show put on by Cirque du Soleil should also get the crowds running. You got it right: it's time to book your ticket for Quebec!
The backpacker's selection
To find your way around this plethora of events, we have put together a small in-house selection of the highlights of the year:
- The Grand Carnival night parade, 400th cuvée(9 and 16 February)
This year, the traditional Quebec City carnival presents a new night parade, specially designed for the city's 400th anniversary.
- Quebec, a city and its artists (from February 14 to April 27)
Tribute from the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec to visual creators who worked in Quebec.
- Mahler's Symphony No.8 (March 15)
A thousand musicians and choristers perform this major work at the Colisée Pepsi.
- Samuel Champlain (May 14 to December 31)
To learn all about the explorer who founded Quebec City in 1608, go to the Place-Royale Interpretation Center.
- Starmania, Opera (May 17-26)
World premiere of the opera version of Luc Plamondon's ultra-famous musical, at the Opéra de Québec.
- The Louvre in Quebec (June 5 to October 26)
The Museum of Fine Arts presents 271 works (paintings, sculptures, jewelry and decorative art objects) belonging to the prestigious collections of the Parisian institution.
- The Image Mill (from June 20 to July 29)
In the Old Port of Quebec, within the Espace 400e, an ambitious visual installation by Robert Lepage on the history of Quebec. One of the big events of the year.
- Inauguration of the Promenade Samuel de Champlain (June 24)
On the day of Quebec's national holiday, inauguration of a 2,5 km park along the St.Lawrence, punctuated with pavilions, gardens, works of art, sports fields and water descents .
- "Happy Quebec Day" (July 3)
The official commemoration of the 400th anniversary at the Basilica of Quebec, the Plains of Abraham and the Bassin Louise. Many events take place throughout the city in the presence of personalities from all over the world.
- Large gathering on the Plains of Abraham (July 6)
After the official commemorations, it is the turn of Quebeckers to celebrate their city with this great popular gathering in this place steeped in history.
- The Urban Opera (July 5)
An artistic performance by Danielle Roy which promises to be original, since it is a musical and visual, contemporary and cinematographic work, which tells the 400 years of Quebec, in several places of the city with the participation of the public .
- The path that walks (August 15th)
Tribute will be paid to the majestic St. Lawrence River under the theme of the meeting, fire and water of creators from here and elsewhere, electronic music and world music.
- Celine Dion on the Plains of Abraham (August 22th)
Great show of the child of the country, become a planetary diva. There should be a crowd on the Plains of Abraham for this free show.
- Cirque du Soleil (October 19)
We no longer present this world-famous circus which puts on a creation on the Francophonie at the Colisée Pepsi for the closing evening of the festivities.
Official site of the 400th anniversary of Quebec
Website of the Quebec tourist office
History of Quebec City
French presence at the 400th anniversary of Quebec