Story & Photos by Dave Houser
Québec City, the cradle of French civilization in North America, celebrates its 17th century heritage each August with five exiting days of parading, dancing, dining, music, theatre, arts and fireworks officially designated Les Fêtes de la Nouvelle-France — or the SAQ New France Festival. Fittingly enough, event sponsor SAQ is the government corporation that controls the sale of alcohol in Québec.
Residents and visitors alike join in the festivities, dressing in period costumes to parade through the cobblestone streets of the historic old walled city – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a bastion of French culture and lifestyle as it has been since its founding in 1608.
Celebrations for this year’s 18th annual New France Festival get underway at 7:00 pm on August 6 with the gala Opening Night Parade of the Giants. Featuring nearly 600 characters, including some 20 way-larger-than-life “giants,” the parade winds its way from the towering copper-topped Fairmont Le Château Frontenac hotel (clearly the festival visitor’s residence of choice) through the streets of Old Québec. It’s a rousing start to a wonderfully authentic trip back in time to the earliest days of European settlement in the Americas.
For more information, go to www.bonjourquébec.com.