North America’s Largest Music Festival
Festival d’été de Québec 50th Anniversary
By Lauri Lyons
Festival d’ete de Quebec, North America’s largest outdoor music festival rolled out the red carpet on July 6th and will continue with 11 more events packed days and nights of concerts. The festival showcases 300 performances at 10 indoor and outdoor venues in Québec City, Canada. The roster will include 1,000 artists covering the genres of hip-hop, rock, pop, country, world beat, and EDM.
Tickets for the festival cost a mere $75USD for a transferable pass that gives you access to 11 days of concerts by some of the biggest headliners and the latest trendsetting talents. The reason why the tickets are so inexpensive is that the FEQ organization is a non-profit, so they cover their expenses but do not try to make a profit from the general public. As you know, most concerts can easily cost over $100USD to see only one artist.
The idyllic setting of Old Quebec City, a UNESCO world heritage site, has created a history of rocking hard with legendary bands and superstar artists including The Rolling Stones, Foo Fighters , Keith Urban, Lady Gaga, Billy Joel, Bruno Mars, Bryan Adams, Stevie Wonder, Bon Jovi, Sting, Peter Gabriel, Rammstein, Elton John, and Justin Bieber.
This year’s grand 50th Anniversary is no exception with a stellar lineup that includes headliners Kendrick Lamar, Pink, Melissa Etheridge, Metallica, Lady Antebellum, Fetty Wap, The Backstreet Boys, The Who, and much more. Kendrick Lamar put on a gladiator worthy performance when he and his DJ slayed the sold out crowd with his lyrical finesse, which was echoed back from the crowd with cheers of “King Kendrick”.
Pink also gave a fantastic performance filled with a huge catalogue of her hit songs, virtual reality effects, pyrotechnics, dancers, and her turn above the crowd on the high wire.
If you’re wondering what is the lure for all of these artists to play in Quebec City, I have the answer for you: The FEQ festival is the home of The Bell Stage, the largest outdoor performance stage in North America, which holds an astonishing 80,000 people. This mammoth stage is only 1 of the 5 stages that are showcasing concerts during the festival. For most of the artists, FEQ is an opportunity to play to the largest crowd of their career.
As an additional attraction, The Festival d’été de Québec is celebrating its 50th anniversary with free events including 50 Summers of FEQ, an epic, retrospective exhibition of the Festival’s history with photos, news articles, posters, and other mementoes.
What is most impressive about the festival is the stark contrast to most music festivals – especially in the U.S. Canadians have a well-deserved reputation for being kind and orderly people. The FEQ festival is spotlessly clean and safe. There are police in the common areas of the festival but not inside the spectator crowds, because believe it or not Canadians actually behave themselves and don’t get ridiculously drunk, start fights, bring weapons or trample each other at concerts. They act civilized!
The shows start within 15 minutes of their scheduled time and last approx. 60-90 minutes each. There is no trash on the festival grounds or in the streets, and plenty of clean public toilets are available. There is a designated food truck area and an entire pedestrian street filled with outdoor cafes and restaurants.
The lines surprisingly move swiftly and without incident throughout the entire festival grounds. I was not allowed to enter the giant Bell Stage arena with my umbrella and was told to leave it outside. When I exited the arena 3 hours later along with 80,000 people, my umbrella was still outside on the grass exactly where I left it! As a New Yorker, I realized that I was either in music festival heaven or Canada.
Photos © Sebastian Dion, R Philippe, Stephane Bourgeois