Story by Rod Charles
Vacay.ca Deputy Editor
QUEBEC CITY, QUEBEC — I’m in Quebec City for the 20th anniversary of the 2016 New France Festival and I can’t help wonder why it took me so long to get here.
The New France Festival, which is taking place until August 7 at the Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site, is somewhat of a hidden gem that’s not so hidden. It doesn’t get as much ink as the Quebec Winter Carnival and doesn’t have the celebrity name recognition of Festival d’été, the annual summer music extravaganza. But it should.
The New France Festival is a chance to warp back to the early days of the province, with delicious food, parades, outlandish costumes, period clothing, buskers, music and huge crowds. With hundreds of artists, crafters and interpreters, Quebec City, in a sense, becomes the coolest history classroom you’ve ever been in. There’s no question the New France Festival is on its way to becoming a heavyweight.
The New France Festival has adopted the theme “Imagine the Americas.” This year, the festival is inviting visitors to discover the cultural diversity of the New France era. It`s also an opportunity to celebrate the influence of New French explorers, pioneers and adventurers across the Americas.
Gisèle Bourdeau, president of the New France Festival, says the event is educational and a lot of fun.
“What we are celebrating with the New France Festival is our history, looking back to when Quebec City was founded. We want to make it where people will enjoy it. Not only educationally, but with activities people can enjoy,” says Bourdeau. “We want people to experiment, there are people available to talk about the history of Quebec City, and there is music being played from a different era. So we think that’s a nice way to learn about the history of Quebec City and have some fun as well.”
According to a recent press release, the 2016 program includes major music shows on the TD Stage, featuring singer-songwriter Sally Folk, Nicolas Pellerin and the Grands Hurleurs, La Volée D’Castors and many others. Acadia and Senegal are honoured guests for the International Francophonie Day. A conference on the history of slavery and the presence of black people in Quebec will notably underline the visit of the Senegalese delegation. Themed gourmet experiences are available for all food enthusiasts. Each day, the festival lights up a large barbecue and offers grilled treats inspired from the Huron-Wendat First Nation, the Celtic era and Acadian communities.
“It’s our 20th anniversary and we wanted to create a real party. We’re putting emphasis on our stage shows, we are having great shows every night,” says Bourdeau.