Défilé de la Saint-Jean 2017: Fête Nationale Parade
Catch Montreal's Fête Nationale parade Il Était une Fois... this June 24, 2017. Details on when and where to see it further below.
For many years, Montreal's Fête Nationale parade was called the Défilé des Géants, French for Parade of Giants, an annual procession held every June 24 during Quebec's Fête Nationale holiday also known as Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day and La Saint-Jean.
The reason it was called Parade of Giants in the first place was because it featured larger-than-life papier mâché "giants" representing Quebec's favorite historical and fictional figures, including former Quebec Premier René Lévesque, poet/musician Félix Leclerc and Montreal co-founder Jeanne Mance. Since 2013, the parade shifted its focus from the giants and more onto Quebecers overall. More on that below.
Fête Nationale 2017 Parade: Défilé de la Saint-Jean Route
For the June 24, 2017 edition, the Fête Nationale parade returns back to its 2015 St. Denis route, which itself was a major change from the Sherbrooke Street route it kept for years, abandoning its 2016 Ste. Catherine Street route as well. The parade starts at 1 p.m. and is expected to last about two hours as it runs on rue Saint-Denis from Boucher (just north of Avenue Laurier) to de Rigaud (near Carré Saint-Louis). See the Fête Nationale 2017 parade route.
Fête National 2017 Parade Theme: Il Était une Fois...
"Once upon a time" is the parade theme in 2017, with the processions showcasing 15 larger-than-life "paintings" relaying important chapters in Quebec's evolution. Storytellers and "book men" present each chapter, sharing salient details and turning points spanning centuries, from the First Nations to today's modern-day Quebec.
Tributes to key Quebecers and floats depicting different eras in the province's history are part of the experience. Over 1,600 participants march on June 24, 2017.
From Giants to the People: Previous Parades
In 2014, the Fête Nationale parade morphed into the Défilé La Grande Envolée, French for The Great Flight. Incorporating papier mâché giants from the original Fête nationale Parade of Giants, La Grande Envolée invited citizens to drop by 90 minutes before the parade started to explore three interactive stations. The first interactive station involved practicing a slam poetry recital celebrating the French language to be carried out during the parade. The second station called on whomever want to participate in a line dance during the parade.
Finally, the third station featured a flash mob choreography with an intercultural theme, also giving guests 90 minutes to perfect it in time for the parade.
And in 2015, the Fête Nationale parade moved its route to St. Denis Street in the heart of Montreal's Plateau neighborhood. Parade participants gave away tree saplings and apples as they passed onlookers.
Finally, in 2016, the parade was moved to the busy commercial thoroughfare of Ste. Catherine Street where Montreal's most popular parades are generally held.