Whether you’re planning a stopover or a deep dive, here is everything you need to know about Quebec City’s 11-day music festival, Festival d’été de Québec.
Last Updated on April 8, 2023 by MacNaughtan
Festival d’été de Québec (FEQ) is one of the hottest music festivals in Quebec – and Canada, to be honest. Kicking off summer each year, this 11-day music festival features a wide range of musical artists, from local indie bands to global megastars. It’s hot summer days filled with outdoor concerts, delicious food, drinks on outdoor patios, street performers, and a parade.
Over 1 million people attend Festival d’été de Québec each year, some for a day or two, while others go all in for the entire 11-day festival. I admire those who plan their vacations around the festival each year. What better way to explore neighbourhoods like Old Quebec, Montcalm, and Saint-Roch, than through a musical journey?
Festival d’été de Québec started in 1968 as a way to showcase Quebec City artists, and attract tourists. Over the next twenty years, the festival’s lineups expanded to include Francophone artists from around the world. By the early aughts, FEQ’s lineups diversified significantly to include rock, pop, punk, hip-hop, electronic dance, metal, and more.
disclaimer: this is not a sponsored article with festival d’été de québec, it does, however, include some affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on the links, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Hey, this website doesn’t run on croissants! Although, I wish it did… hahaha
when is festival d’été de québec?
Festival d’été de Québec takes place over the first two weeks of July each year, setting the stage for the busiest two months in Quebec City. While it’s possible to plan a festival trip at the last minute and take your chances on concert tickets, it can be a pricey endeavour. The key to attending FEQ and not breaking the bank is to plan ahead, which you can learn more about further down in this post.
Since 2011, Festival d’été de Québec has welcomed an impressive array of global superstars, from Elton John, Metallica, and Our Lady Peace to Wu-Tang Clan, Lady Gaga, and Snoop Dogg. While world-famous megastars are usually the main attraction, FEQ is a chance to discover and enjoy music from rising stars and indie bands as well. It is, after all, a music festival ?.
The artist line-up for 2023, includes some of my personal favourites: Weezer, Foo Fighters, Cypress Hill, Green Day, and Bad Religion (man, I miss my twenties at times). New favourites like Lana Del Ray, and Pitbull, too. There are several Québécois artists to get excited about, as well as artists from the UK, Denmark, and beyond.
The FEQ website is the best place to familiarize yourself with the artist line-up, listen to some of their music, and possibly begin mildly stalking them on social media – in a healthy, I-love-you-music-and-want-to-hear-more, kind of way.
Here are the Quebec artists playing in this year’s FEQ: Allison Russell, Ariane Roy, Barry Paquin Roberge, Bibi Club, Bleu Jeans Bleu, Bobby Bazini, Bonanza, Carroté, Claudia Bouvette, Coeur de Pirate, Les Cowboys Fringants, Debbie Tebbs, Debby Friday, Deraps, Drogue, Dumas, Elliot Maginot, Emma Beko, Fuudge, Gab Bouchard, Ghostly Kisses, Isabella Lovestory, Jonathan Roy, Les Louanges, Lumière, Lysandre, Metò, Milk & Bone, Modlee, Naya Ali, Parazar, Q052, Québec Redneck Bluegrass Project, Robert Charlebois, Rosie Valland, Roxane Bruneau, Salomé Leclerc, Sara-Danielle, Sara Dufour, Shaina Hayes, Les Shirley, Shreez, SIIBII, Sophia Bel, Soran, Souldia, The Sugar Darlings, Teke::Teke, The Planet Smashers, Thierry Larose, Les Trois Accords, Valaire, Vanille, Velours Velours, and Zouz.
Quebec City vibrates with excitement and adrenaline during Festival d’été de Québec, with musical performances on the four outdoor stages, as well as small pop-up stages, local bars, and the Armoury. Let’s talk about the main concert venues for FEQ.
Bell Stage at the Plains of Abraham – This is the festival’s main stage, and where the headliners will perform. FEQ takes up around 1/3 of the park, with thousands of people attending each night’s performances. The first performance begins at 19h (7 pm) each night, but if you want to be near the stage, you’ll need to join the crowd waiting for the gates to open. A pass is required for this venue.
Loto-Québec Stage at Parc de la Francophonie – Located on Grand-Allée, behind Parliament and close to the Armoury, the Loto-Québec stage is where you’ll find quite a few (incredible) Quebec performers, including Indigenous performers like SIIBII and Q052. The Smile, Cypress Hill, Fit For An Autopsy, and Lamb of Gord will be playing here as well. Many days are stroller friendly, except July 9th and 12th. A pass is required for this venue.
SiriusXM Stage at Parc de la Francophonie – The majority of the acts playing on this stage are from various parts of Quebec. See artists like Carotté, Feist, Debby Friday, and Protest the Hero (from Ontario). Many days are stroller friendly, except July 9th and 12th. A pass is required for this venue.
Hydro-Québec Stage at Place de l’Assemblée-Nationale – Set up across from the Parliament Building, the concerts at Hydro-Québec stage are free to attend. The lineup is a gorgeous mix of artists from around the world, including ADG7 (South Korea), Blick Bassy (Cameroon), and Aysay (Denmark).
Armoury – Across from Parc de la Francophonie, on the edge of the Plains of Abraham is the Armoury, a stunning historic building. This is also the sight of electrifying and scintillating after-party performances. It’s all sweat and DJs and memories that should probably stay inside the Armoury (heh). This is an adults-only venue.
Pop-up FEQ – Go on a fun little scavenger hunt through the city and end up at this surprise pop-up stage. The performances are free, and it’s a charming way to see parts of Quebec City as you search. I love it when the city showcases its culture and history and fun and intriguing ways.
Aside from the “official” venues above, several bars throughout the city will feature live musical performances during Festival d’étee de Québec. For the best small venue music experiences, head to bars on rue Saint-Jean in the Saint-Jean-Baptiste neighbourhood, as well as rue Saint-Joseph Est in Saint-Roch.
General admission pass – good for all 11 days of the festival, and only 140 CAD. Sold out.
Le Jardin – These are day passes, which go on sale on April 12, 2023. Prices vary from 75 to 200 CAD. This pass is only for shows on the Plains of Abraham, in an area to the side of the stage. Space is limited, and these passes will sell out quickly. Buy here.
Silver Front Stage Zone pass – This is for the Bell Stage on the Plains of Abraham and includes general admission to the other stages. Prices start at 535 CAD, and you can choose from a single laminated pass for the 11 days or a different laminated pass for each day of the festival. Sold out.
Gold Front Stage Zone pass – Same as above, but slightly better seats. Prices start at 920 CAD. Sold out.
Bell Signature Stage pass – This pass is for seating close to the stage, but off to the side. It’s quite good! Seats are reserved, so there is no need to worry about arriving early to fight for a good spot. You’ll also have access to a bar and private bathrooms. The pass starts at 605 CAD. Goes on sale on April 12, 2023.
getting to feq
The official FEQ venues are relatively close to each other, making it easy to travel between venues. If you’re driving to Quebec City, plan to leave your vehicle at the hotel or in a parking garage. During Festival d’été de Québec, several streets are closed for pedestrian use. Luckily, the city is very walkable and the main venues are close to each other.
RTC has a FestiBus pass during the festival, which is an excellent way to get around the city during festival time, without breaking your travel budget. The 11-day pass is 31.50 CAD, which works out to 2.87 CAD per day. The pass is good for unlimited trips on all bus routes. Alternatively, they also have a FestiBus pass which is 22.50 CAD for 10 trips, which is 2.05 CAD per trip. This pass is also good on all bus routes.
Uber is also available in Quebec City, but honestly, during FEQ your feet or public transit are the way to go.
where to stay during feq
If you think you might be coming to Quebec City for Festival d’été de Québec, book a hotel room immediately, and you cancel it later if needed (unless you choose to pre-pay, then you’re locked in). If you know you’re coming to FEQ, book a hotel room immediately. If you’re coming to Quebec City during FEQ but not going to the festival, book a hotel room immediately.
There are several hotels in Old Quebec, and during the summer months the rates hike and the rooms book up quickly. The best way to save a little money is to book a hotel room as early as possible. Hôtel Nomad is a wonderful small boutique hotel in Upper Town, as well as Hôtel Clarendon, Le Capitole Hôtel, and Hôtel Manoir Morgan. In Lower Town, Auberge Saint-Pierre, Auberge Saint-Antoine, and Hôtel Port-Royal are top choices.
The further you get from Old Quebec, the easier it will be to find hotel rooms for a decent price. In Saint-Roch, Hôtel PUR and Hôtel Royal William. In Montcalm, Delta, Hilton, and C3 are the closest hotels to the festival, and therefore they will be more expensive.
Budget travellers will enjoy Auberge Internationale de Québec in Old Quebec. They have several dorm rooms, as well as private rooms. The hostel also has a communal kitchen, bar space, and lounges for relaxing.
festival d’été de québec checklist
- Check out the FEQ line-up and make a list of the bands and artists you’d like to see. This will also help you decide which dates to book a hotel in Quebec City.
- Buy your festival tickets for the Bell Stage. The 11-day passes sold out within 24 hours.
- Book a hotel room or hostel bed. Honestly, you need to book immediately to avoid big price jumps. Rooms also book out quickly for big festival nights (especially on weekends).
- Start planning your trip to Quebec City. There are so many great things to do, especially in summer. Making time for a walking tour is a great way to kick things off. There is a fab free walking tour, plus an open-top hop-on hop-off bus tour. There are also several private tour guides.
- Pack for the heat, Quebec City can be hot and sticky in summer. For festival days, pack electrolyte tablets to help stay hydrated, as well as a water bottle (instead of buying plastic bottles of water and adding waste).
- Plan for zero waste! The streets near festival venues are disgusting at the end of the night. Please, make an effort to use garbage cans. Don’t throw your trash on the ground and walk away. Carry a small bag to hold your garbage until you find a trash can or get back to your hotel.
- Bring good shoes, and if you’re planning to use your phone a lot while going to concerts, a mobile charger may also be a good idea.
- Make time to visit several local neighbourhoods, and try Québécois foods like poutine.
- Remember that you do not need to speak perfect French to visit Quebec City, making an effort does go a long way. Here are some fun and helpful French phrases.