We have already made the case for Québec as a great winter destination but, now that winter is (finally) drawing to a close, our thoughts are on what's happening in the region this summer. Here are some tips for how to make the most of it while it lasts:
Catch a Music Festival (or Two)
While it is home to the world's biggest winter carnival, Québec is no slouch when it comes to summertime festivities. The summer calendar is filled with so many festivals, it can be hard to choose just one. The 35th Festival International de Jazz de Montreál, the biggest jazz festival in the world, will run from June 26 - July 6, with Diana Ross and Rufus Wainwright as headliners. Ticket prices range from $30 to $130 CAD. Other music events in the region include the Piknik Électronik electronic music festival, a weekly outdoor event that takes place in Montreál every Sunday from May 19 - September 22 ($12 CAD), and the Tremblant Blues Festival, which hosts 150 free outdoor concerts over 10 days from July 4-13. In August, Rouyn-Noranda, in the northwest of the region of the province, hosts an Emerging Music Festival dedicated to uncovering new musical talent, while Lanaudière, in the northeast, hosts Le Festival de Lanaudière, the biggest classical music festival in Canada in July and August.
Dine and Drink al Fresco
Located in the Petit-Champlain district, on the oldest merchant street in Québec City, Le Lapin Sauté has seating for 20 on its outdoor terrace and specializes in local country-style cuisine, including, as its name would suggest, rabbit. Look out for their prix fixe specials. One of Montreál's most popular outdoor drinking spots is the enclosed patio of European-style pub Le Sainte-Élisabeth with its 145-foot-high ivy-covered walls. For a more elegant ambiance, head over the the Saint-Sulpice hotel's Sinclair restaurant, which serves contemporary French cuisine on a heated terrace during the summer months. At $60 CAD per person, the tasting menu presents good value. In leafy surroundings, Gatineau's Le Saint-Eloi Café-Bistro has a patio that looks out across Lac Leamy. The bistro offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with main courses priced between $8 and 18 CAD.
Ride the Demon
La Ronde amusement park, just across the Saint Lawrence River from downtown Montreál, plans to open a new swinging and spinning ride named The Demon this spring. Riders board a gondola-like structure with two rows of seats and two arms that pivot, swing, and rotate irregularly, causing the entire gondola to move unpredictably before rising 130 feet into the air. If that doesn't sound demonic enough, you will also have to watch out for sixteen water jets that shoot out bursts of water at random moments during the ride.
For travel within the region, check VIA Rail Canada's weekly Discount Tuesday promotion, which offers discounted fares on select routes for 24 hours only, valid for travel during the following week. If you are planning to travel further around Canada, be sure to check VIA's Express Dealspage, which offers discounts of up to 50 percent off longer distance trips.