Based on its sheer scale, the Festival d'été de Québec (FEQ) is a major contender for the top slot when it comes to North American festivals. With 300 shows, spread out over 10 stages in 11 days, it’s a behemoth that continues to draw major headliners and massive crowds year after year. And unlike a lot of newcomers to the circuit, it has a weighty history behind it. Founded in 1968, it was originally intended by local community leaders to showcase Quebec’s local artists, street performers, and musicians. However, since the 1980s it’s been an all-encompassing, international extravaganza with artists in genres spanning rock, French song, hip-hop, electro, jazz, world music, and more.
Making and Breaking Records
When it comes to FEQ’s street-cred, the festival is responsible for a number of firsts. Attendance regularly tops 1 million, a feat that FEQ first accomplished in 2007 (last year’s attendance maxed out at about 1.5 million over 11 days, a huge number in festival terms). The festival’s largest venue, the Bell Stage, has an audience capacity of 80, 000 and also happens to be the biggest freestanding stage in North America, proudly constructed in Quebec. Projecting 200, 000 watts of sound, it boasts a surface area bigger than a football field.
The lineups at FEQ boast performers—both old school and new school—that leave music-lovers bursting with anticipation. In the past three years alone, headliners have included Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Def Leppard, Guns N’ Roses, Lionel Richie, Elton John, Lady Gaga, The Killers and Billy Joel. Try finding a list that includes names of such caliber in a single festival lineup in the US, and you’ll be searching for a while.Year after year, the lineups at FEQ boast performers—both old school and new school—that leave music-lovers eager with anticipation.
One might think that a festival of this size and scale would result in an event that is too unruly and unmanageable to actually enjoy. But the organization and thoughtfulness of those who in charge are second to none. All of the venues in Downtown Quebec are within walking distance of each other, which means there is no worry about transport or parking once you’ve arrived. The downtown area is completely integrated with public transportation, and festival-goers are offered a special FestiBUS ticket, which is designed specifically for attendees.