My travel to Quebec City for the Festival d’Ete was complimentary for purposes of review. All opinions are my own.
Quebec City is known for its quaint cafes, culture, and history, but did you know that it’s also home to a gigantic summer music festival? The Festival d’Ete du Quebec (Quebec Summer Festival) brings in over one million guests during the eleven day summer festival. The festive atmosphere spreads throughout the city, and it’s a great time to plan your family vacation. You can easily spend the mornings and afternoons touring the city and seeing the sites, and then spend the evenings watching live entertainment.
With past headline performers including the Rolling Stones, Billy Joel, Sting, the Weeknd, and the Foo Fighters, as well as ten different stages/venues, the summer festival has something for everyone. With one ticket fee of $110 CAD, guests can access any of the concert venues with general admission.
Much of the Festival d’Ete takes place right past the gates in Quebec City, although many of the indoor venues are located in the lower city. In the evenings, streets are closed off and the entire atmosphere transforms into a fun party. The venues are really varied in size and style. The main stage, Bell Stage, located on the Plains of Abraham, is the largest outdoor stage in Canada, and can accommodate up to 80,000 spectators.
The festival brings in local and international acts. Each stage each night offers a different musical style. So, you could park yourself in one spot for the night and watch several different acts with a similar musical style. In addition to watching the headliner, you’ll likely find a new performer that will become a favorite.
Here’s more information about the Festival d’Ete for families.
Quebec City’s Festival d’Ete for Families
Tickets to the Festival d’Ete
The Festival d’Ete takes place in July (in 2018 it’s from July 5th-July 15th). Tickets are $110 CAD and can be used over all days and all venues. With those tickets, you’ll receive general admission, subject to venue maximums. Arrive early to ensure a good spot in the venue of your choice. Best of all for families – children up to 11 years old who are accompanied by an adult can enter the festival venues for free. That makes it a pretty risk-free event for families with younger kids, because you’ll almost definitely get your money’s worth, even if you don’t stay for entire performances.
Festival d’Ete for Families
If you are visiting with your family, there are a lot of options of things to do at the Festival d’Ete. You’ll find free programming in addition to the venues that require tickets. During my time at the festival, I saw children at all of the venues I visited. Just be sure that you know your kids and understand what they’ll be interested in.
The FIBE stage at the Cœur du FEQ (Heart of FEQ) is great for families. Here, you’ll find emerging artists, as well as a fun atmosphere with food trucks. The entertainment here runs a little earlier than the main stages, so you could start out at the Cœur du FEQ . I loved wandering around there, and even found a new favorite artist I hadn’t heard of before.
You’ll also find a Family Fun Zone at Parc de l’Esplanade. This is perfect for younger children, and includes small amusement rides.
There’s plenty of security at Festival d’Ete. At the larger venues, you’ll enter the festival through gates where you’ll scan your tickets. Bags are checked as you enter. Lawn chairs aren’t permitted in the main venues, although many people sit on the ground at the Bell Stage on the Plains of Abraham.
You’ll find food and drinks for sale at the venues. There are also fountains to refill water bottles – essential in the heat. On the first night of the festival it was hot, so it was great to have this option to stay hydrated. Bathrooms are port-a-potties, so prepare your kids for that in advance. Since my kids play sports, they are pretty used to having to use a port-a-potty, but it definitely took a little while for them to get comfortable with them.
The larger venues also have screens so you can see what is going on, even if you aren’t right up front. While I initially thought I would just hang around one stage for the evening, I actually found it more fun to walk around the city. Each stage has a completely different feel and atmosphere, so it’s fun to experience everything.
If you are walking around, you’ll also find sponsor areas on the Grand Allee, in the area where the street is closed off. New this year is the Cube – an area dedicated to cool backgrounds for selfies. Admission to the Cube is free.
Tips for the Festival
The best thing about the Festival d’Ete for families is the ability to do so many different things. Whether you want to stay at one venue to see a specific artist, or walk around and experience a whole bunch of things – it’s totally up to you. A larger family could even split up depending on preferences. Here are my top tips for the festival:
Arrive Early: If you have a specific artist that you want to see, you’ll want to arrive early. Tickets don’t guarantee admission if a venue fills up. Because the music styles are similar on each night’s stage, you’ll likely be able to see other artists that you’ll enjoy before the headliner comes on.
Review the Schedule in Advance: Because the festival runs over 11 days, you’ll want to look at the schedule to decide when you want to visit.
Be Flexible: There’s no risk, so explore different musical styles during the festival. You can always leave a particular performance if your kids don’t enjoy it. It’s such an easy and inexpensive way to expose them to new music.
Walk Around: The atmosphere is so festive, so I definitely recommend walking around the different venues and areas during your vacation. Even if there isn’t a performance you’ll want to see, there’s so much to do and explore.
Be Prepared: If you are going to the main stages with kids, you may consider bringing earplugs in case they find it to be too loud. Also, wear comfortable shoes and clothes because there’s lots of standing and walking.
Where to Stay for the Festival d’Ete
If you are planning to attend the Festival d’Ete during your Quebec family vacation, you have plenty of lodging options. I’d definitely recommend staying right in the city, rather than in the suburbs. You’ll want to be able to go back and forth to your hotel.
The three larger hotels closest to the main stages are the Hilton Quebec City, the Hotel Chateau Laurier, and the Le Concorde Hotel. You can even hear the music from some of the hotels. These three hotels are located right outside the main gates of the city, but you can still easily walk to the restaurants and shops in the old city.