SKYWHORES UNITE!!! presents TALES OF 2 CITIES
Let’s be real here. Any northern city that suffers winter will state that summer in their city is like no other place. Montrealer’s have made this claim for many years due to the numerous outdoor festivals that take place (unfortunately in my backyard). However, Toronto as of late, has not been pulling punches.
So no comparisons anymore. These cities have a love/hate relationship even though half of Torontonians were born in Montreal. Let’s just accept it and move one. So I decided to create an annual festivities calendar of sorts. Many of these events take place on the same weekends or have passed already. Doesn’t mean you can’t do both… you’ll just have to miss out on a bit, or call in sick.
MUTEK (June1-5) If you like your music with bleeps and blunders, this festival is the thing for you. World renowned electronic music festival, gearing more towards minimal tech/house. Expect of interesting technology and visual arts to be displayed.
Grand-Prix (June10-12) is the summit of cheese. But regardless brings in millions of dollars to Montreal. Thousands of tourists come in from all over the world to partake. Flights, busses, and trains are full. People from as far as Florida, from what I heard, drive their sports cars all the way just to show off, I mean,use their cars. Certain downtown streets are closed off with loud banging music, carnivals, and hundreds of potential strippers with big hair and gawdy make-up. The hotels are filled to the rim with alcoholic tenants. This might sound a bit negative to you, but believe it or not, its actually interesting to see such tackiness. Consider it an exhibition of sorts, kind of like, National Geographic comes to town.
St-Laurent Street Festival (June 16-19) happens to be one of my favorite outings in Montreal. St-Laurent Blvd. which divides Montreal in half and used to divide the languages as well (west/english, east/french). All that it divides now is just the addresses. The party starts from Sherbrooke till Mont-Royal, 12+ blocks of traffic! Pedestrian traffic, food stalls, ugly clothes for sale, performances, and if you’re lucky dancefloors. If none of these interest you, just grab a seat and check out the eye candy, there’s tons!
Loto-Quebec’s International Fireworks (June-July) on wednesdays and saturdays as of 10pm. Big, bright lights and loud noises.
Jump-Up (Carifiesta) July 9th is small but cute..very cute. Around the range of 75,000 people dancing and prancing on the streets. The music is good, the people are friendly, and the food is tight.
Montreal International Jazz Festival (June 25th-July 4th) What can I say? Legendary performances, record number crowds, and truly international as people from all over the world annually book this as their vacations. Hotels are hard to come by, so may I suggest airbnb.com,where you can rent out someone’s apartment. In previous years they’ve had spectacular outdoor free performances such as Pat Methany, James Brown, Oscar d’Leon, and Stevie Wonder ( I lived!). This years indoor events are leaning more towards the soulful taste of Montrealer’s…finally. With acts like Sade and last minute, 2 intimate shows of PRINCE, who requested to play. Now if Prince is asking to play, you know Montreal’s festival is no joke.
Fantasia (July 14-Aug 7th) my personal favorite as I love films. This little festival that could…DID! Starting off as asian films brought to showcase now includes science-fiction, asian-cult films, horror, and an amazing array of asian films. My personal favorites are the martial-art films, but most of all Korean drama’s. I tell you, Korean films are so well made, you simply lose yourself in these films… so well acted!
Diverscite (July 25th-31) The original gay pride founders are now a community organization centering on the arts. Long gone are the days when they worked their butts off creating the parade. Now streets in and around the village are closed off with performances, food, and dance. With the worlds biggest drag-show, one of the largest gay screenings, and a weekend dancefloor that doesn’t quit, you’ll find this group very well organized, entertaining , and inviting. Tourists from all over be ready to party for 1 solid week!
Gay pride parade (Aug 9th-14th)… Now maybe I’m not the best person to describe this. As I am a bit biased towards Diverscite. I tend to ignore this event as the numbers aren’t there and there is nothing of interest to me. Its mainly local acts, not that there is anything wrong with that. Its just its very local, very french, very rock, and doesn’t include anything multi-cultural. hence why its a very, very local event. Its actually a shame, it could be so much more.
Montreal Reggae Festival (Aug 20-21) When they started, people scoffed and figured how could Montreal produce a quality reggae festival. Well people underestimatete Montrealers spirit and love for music. This event is respected in a very global way. So come, light one up, and feel it.
Under Pressure (Aug 14th-15th) As the site says…a popping battle, locking battle, tag team ramp battle and a chance for graffiti artists to unite on the same wall space. A definite must see for the urbanite.
St-Laurent Street Festival 2 (Aug 25th-28th) Like Shalamar, 2nd time around.
Osheaga (July 29th-31) Weird name but massive turnout. The who’s who of the alternative world dashed with some pop. This year expect Eminem, Tragically Hip, Cypress Hill, and Elvis Costello to sink Ste-Helene’s island from the weight of sheer numbers of attendees.
Worlds International Film Festival (Aug 18th-28th) Some of the worlds best in film are featured during this festival. If you’re not a fan of world films then you truly are not a fan of cinema. Some of the best if not, the best come from outside Hollywood. Try one on for size.
NXNE (June 13-19) 5 days of music. 625 international and local acts and over 50 official stages. 280,000 people attend these shows so get there early.
Summerlicious (July 8th-July 24th) With tons of participating restaurants, you cant go wrong. Get the best restos in the city for cheap. make sure you reserve in advance as these seats are gone lickety-split.
Taste of Italy (Jun17-19) On the festive street of College between Bathurst and Shaw you’ll enjoy, food sampling, performances and some amazing music. Its cool, chill and a lot of fun.
Gay Pride (June 27-July 3) This mega party boasts one of the biggest parades in the world…over a million. I don’t care much for parades but the after parties are great. Probably the most ethnically diverse pride in the world with the Blockorama stage being my favorite.
Jazz Festival (June 24th-July 3rd) Labelled as the cities largest music festival…surprisingly since I’ve seen bigger.
Taste of Danforth (Aug 5th-7th) Another amazing festival for Toronto. Danforth runs through Greektown and features live performances, but most of all, great food. Not just Greek, though that’s the majority. Go with a date and it’ll be the cheapest date you’ve ever had.
Caribana (July 28th-Aug 1st) LAWD JESUS!!! DA BIGGEST ROMP IN TOWN!! Clearly the biggest party in Canada if not in North America. Over a million people mostly Americans come up to whine dem batty. Its the Caribbean festival but trust me everyone shows up for a good time. Just prepare for VERY loud music and REALLY good food. If you’re a girl and all of a sudden you get lifted in the air or some men or women start grinding against you, go with the flow…inhibitions are out the door this weekend. Just one thing! DO NOT DRIVE YOUR CAR DOWNTOWN, as it becomes a parking lot. Every person whether rental or ownership will be pumping their sounds as loud as possible, for all to hear and see, whether you like it or not. Friday night is the most interesting as Yonge street becomes a horny traffic jam as everyone is on the prowl. If your not too much into partying, then just look for the friendliest and most festive bunch…I’m sure they’ll be having a BBQ.
Afrofest (July 9th-10th) I love this festival. The food, atomosphere and Toronto’s african community sharing their knowledge with other nationalities. The music makes you dance, the food makes you tingle, and all of this in Queen’s Park, outdoors. A must!
Now don’t take my word for it. These are the events I try my best not to miss. Yes some of them share the same dates, but I just got it like that…don’t hate!