Journées de la Culture 2017: In Montreal and Across Quebec

National Culture Days: A Profile

Journées de la culture 2017, aka Culture Days, is held in Montreal and throught Quebec every September.
Photo © MJ Larivée courtesy of Journées de la Culture

Journées de la Culture 2017: Montreal's Culture Days

As of September 1997, the Quebec National Assembly started a new movement, designating the last Friday of every September the beginning of an annual, three-day national* cultural tradition -"journées nationales de la culture"- at the persistent request of the province of Quebec's prominent arts and cultural community who wanted some sort of strategy to get Quebecers more involved in and excited about the arts.

In 2017, the Journées de la Culture is from September 29 to October 1, 2017 and is expected to feature over 500 free activities in the city of Montreal. Roughly 2,000 events spread over three days are planned across the province of Quebec with every edition.

Journées de la Culture 2017: Culture Days Spreads Its Wings

What started out as a relatively small cultural event has grown exponentially over the years and turned into a movement of cultural democratization that spans not only Quebec, but all of Canada, featuring thousands of free activities over the course of three days. The city of Montreal, by itself, hosted over 350 activities during the Journées de la Culture in 2008. By 2010, that number more than doubled, with 718 activities proposed in Montreal out of 2,512 hosted across the province. The number of activities has since leveled out.

Free For All: Democratizing Arts & Culture

As per every Journées de la Culture edition, all activities are free to the public, a change from the, let's admit it, costly reality of participating in and/or attending many arts & cultural activities --e.g., the "cheap" tickets for an Opéra de Montreal presentation are over $40-- making arts and culture accessible to every socioeconomic background, at least for the duration of the three-day movement. Participating artists are the reason Journées de la Culture remains free since they volunteer their time, talent and energy.

From Animation to Theatre: It's All Interactive

While the first rule of artist involvement in Journées de la Culture is that activities be offered free of charge, the second rule is that events must be interactive, involving the public in some way, be it via discussions, workshops, walking tours, or even incorporating them in the performances themselves. And the disciplines are as varied as the interactive possibilities, including activities, often with a multicultural edge, in:

  • animation
  • architecture
  • arts and crafts
  • circus arts
  • electronic arts
  • visual art
  • film and video
  • dance
  • history
  • humor
  • literature
  • music
  • museology
  • opera
  • theatre

For more information on the latest edition of Journées de la Culture as well as access to maps and more, consult the Journées de la Culture website.

*In this context, the word "national" refers to the province of Quebec's official status as a distinct nation within Canada. The word is used to denote the unique nature of Quebec society and culture as opposed to insinuating federal status and independent government.