There are countless festivals and special events of every conceivable kind that increase the impact and visibility of francophone culture in Canada. For many years, artistic and cultural gatherings across the country have attracted native and foreign artists from every discipline. Below is a selection of events from East to West that testify to the vibrant life of Canada’s francophone and Acadian communities.
The Northrop Frye International Literary Festival
In 2004, Moncton will host the fifth annual Northrop Frye International Literary Festival, a popular bilingual festival named for one of the 20th century’s leading intellectuals. For five days, more than 40 authors give readings and lectures, host discussions and roundtables and lead workshops in the city’s schools, cafés and restaurants.
Festival acadien de Caraquet
From the village fair atmosphere it had when it began in 1963, the Festival acadien de Caraquet has grown into a 15-day event that welcomes more than 200 artists each year, with a Music Gala that has launched the careers of many vocalists and musicians. The event also features theatre, visual arts and classical music, with jazz, dance, cinema, storytelling and poetry also included in the program.
FrancoFête en Acadie
The eighth edition of the FrancoFête en Acadie will be held in 2004. For 10 days in November, Acadian artists and the general public will converge on festival sites, where the focus is on song, theatre and visual arts. The FrancoFête en Acadie features record launches, live art, theatre performances, show previews and much more. It is also a meeting place for artists and art world figures and a major showcase for Acadian talent.
Festival acadien de la poésie
Initially part of the Festival acadien de Caraquet, the Festival acadien de la poésie was born in 1997 and will also be celebrating its eighth anniversary in 2004. Over the October long weekend, poets from Acadia, Quebec and elsewhere declaim their verse and enchant a growing audience in the peninsula towns of Caraquet, Néguac, Tracadie, Shippagan and Lamèque. Since 1999, the Festival has been partnered with the Antonine-Maillet-Acadie Vie literary award, given to an Acadian author.
In 2004, the Foire Brayonne will celebrate its 26th anniversary. This action-packed, large-scale event that lasts for five days at the end of July is held in Madawaska, New Brunswick. Its live music, cultural and sports lineups attract 140,000 visitors per year, making it one of the most popular festival outside Quebec. As the name indicates, the event is a source of great pride for the “Brayon” people, and a whole host of activities is organized to promote their culture.
Quebec City Summer Festival
For the past 35 years in early July, Quebec City has pulsed to the beat of song and music. For 10 days, more than 400 artists from around the globe serve up a varied program of francophone songs, world music, classical and new music and street arts. The historic city’s storied streets are transformed into a huge open-air stage that draws more than 850,000 fans each year.
Coup de cœur francophone
This festival has come a long way since it was first launched in 1986. A must-see annual event for fans of French vocal performance, this Montreal event has grown to include artists from every part of the country, making it part of a great pan-Canadian network. The thousands of visitors that flock to this event every year make its influence felt throughout the francophone world. The organization has won numerous awards, thanks to the vision and open-mindedness of its co-founder and director, Alain Chartrand.
Festival international de la poésie de Trois-Rivières (FIPTR)
For 10 days in early October, Trois-Rivières becomes the world poetry capital. Since its modest beginnings in 1985, the FIPTR has become a pilgrimage destination for poets and poetry lovers from near and far. Each year, 30,000 people flock to its 80 sites, where 400 activities featuring more than 100 poets from every continent are held. The FIPTR is one of the largest festivals of its kind in the world.
Les FrancoFolies de Montréal
Over the past 15 years, Les FrancoFolies de Montréal has drawn some of the world’s best-known francophone vocal artists. For 10 days that span the end of July and the beginning of August, songs rise up from outdoor stages and echo from the city’s hottest venues. When summer heat is at its peak, the performances given by these famous French chansonniers are like a breath of fresh air.
The Festival franco-ontarien (FFO) started in 1976 in the ByWard Market, in the heart of downtown Ottawa. Initially intended as a celebration of Franco-Ontarian song and culture, it has grown over the years to become a forum featuring established artists as well as showcasing up-and-coming talent. Thousands of festivalgoers impatiently await its end-of-June date. With shows and entertainment for every taste and all ages, the FFO can only increase in popularity as it approaches its 30th birthday.
La Nuit sur l’étang
In the early 70s, Sudbury and the region known as Nouvel-Ontario were a hotbed of talent. The resulting artistic ferment produced La Nuit sur l’étang, an important annual event for audience and performers from French-speaking Ontario and elsewhere. One night out of the year, they gather to sing and party, discover new voices and hear concerts by established figures in the Franco-Ontarian vocal music scene. A springboard for many singers, this “Night on the Pond” continues to attract crowds of devoted fans, who also attend for the handful of other shows presented.
Festival du Voyageur
To help loosen winter’s unrelenting grip, Manitoba’s Festival du Voyageur de Saint-Boniface heats things up with a 10-day burst of activity in mid-February. Founded in 1970, the Festival celebrates its 35th birthday in 2004. To commemorate this significant anniversary, the lineup includes an array of lectures, exhibitions and shows. The more than 30 sites are bound to have something to please everyone.
Known until 1996 as the Gala interprovincial, the Chant’Ouest festival offers Western Canadian performers a unique opportunity to display their vocal ability. Since 1990, this event has been drawing the most talented artists from Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. An important springboard to the Festival de la chanson de Granby, Chant’Ouest has established strong ties with galas held in the Western provinces and with the Coup de cœur francophone; these partnerships have been a significant factor in this event’s outstanding success.