Tam Tams Montreal Drum and Dance Fests

  • 01 of 05

    Tam Tams Basics

    Montreal's Tam Tams, an weekly drum and dance event in Mount Royal Park every Sunday.
    ••• Above: a clever DIY drum kit spotted at the Montreal Tam Tams circa 2014. Photo by Flickr user Gerry Lauzon (CC BY 2.0)

    Montreal's Tam Tams is the name of the popular drum and dance activity held every spring, summer, and autumn Sunday atop Mount Royal

    Urban lore has it that Montreal's Tam Tams, named after the French word for hand drums, such as bongos, started in the  '80s, maybe late '70s. It depends on the source.

    According to writer Susan Krashinsky, Tam Tams began with an African drumming workshop looking for a change of pace from their usual haunt. Students ended up convening on the edge of Mont Royal Park at the edge of Jeanne-Mance Park, right beside Montreal's well-known angel statue. Eventually, non-drummers joined in, dancing along with the ever-changing beats and the gathering evolved to become Tam Tams, Montreal's Sunday tradition in the park. By 1994, the events grew and the city of Montreal took charge of maintenance, security and marketplace permits.

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  • 02 of 05

    Tam Tams Are For Everyone

    tam tams montreal photos mont royal parc jeanne mance park sundays summer
    ••• Tam tams are for everyone, literally. Photo © Evelyn Reid

    Babies, seniors, teens, thirty-somethings, fifty-ish fans, jugglers, brazen flirts, medieval foam weaponry fighters—every generation and a wide array of subcultures are represented at Tam Tams. The vibe is peaceful and non-judgmental. It's even wheelchair accessible! And it's free. As long as they're leashed, dogs are invited to the party too.

    The only constraint with Tam Tams is the weather. The show only goes on every Sunday from May through September, as long as there's no rain, from noon to sundown or later. Drummers informally extend it through October, weather-permitting.

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  • 03 of 05

    Tam Tams Montreal: Getting There

    tam tams montreal photos mont royal parc jeanne mance park sundays summer
    ••• View of the west side of Parc Mont Royal's Parc Jeanne-Mance. Photo © Evelyn Reid

    The most common public transit route to get to the Tam Tam involves taking the 11 Bus West from Mont-Royal Metro. It's, at the most, a 10-minute ride. Get off at the corner of Mont-Royal and Parc.

    Walk up Parc in the direction of a large patch of green space (you can't miss it!) until you reach the angel statue near the corner of Parc and Rachel. From there, just follow the beat of the drums to reach Tam Tam's epicenter.

    A different route that requires less walking involves the 80 Bus North from Place-des-Arts Metro. The ride is also at most 10 minutes. Get off at the corner of Parc and Rachel and simply cross Parc in the direction of the angel statue.

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  • 04 of 05

    Tam Tams Montreal: What to Expect

    tam tams montreal photos mont royal parc jeanne mance park sundays summer
    ••• That angel statue is Monument George-Étienne Cartier. Photo © Evelyn Reid

    Look for the angel statue, the Monument George-Étienne Cartier. Tam Tams' drum circle typically forms in its vicinity. From noon to sundown every Sunday, things start to get crowded. It's like a huge party and practically everything goes. You'll find people playing lawn games and having picnics.

    The drumming continues and grows and everyone joins in by drumming (even sticks on a park bench back) and dancing. If you aren't wanting to join in, you can always people-watch to your heart's delight. 

    After working up an appetite with all the dancing and drumming, you'll often find food trucks parked on Parc Avenue. You may also find ice cream sellers on bikes.  If you want a bit more, head to the top of the mountain to the Mount Royal Chalet, where the café offers sandwiches, sweets, and refreshing lemonade and soft drinks. Enjoy the view of the city.

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  • 05 of 05

    Tam Tams Montreal: The Marketplace

    tam tams montreal photos mont royal parc jeanne mance park sundays summer
    ••• Tam Tams' marketplace generally sells clothes, accessories, jewelry, bongo drums, flags, and other knick knacks. Photo © Evelyn Reid

    At most Tam Tams, there's a small group of people selling clothes, flags, jewelry, and assorted trinkets. Technically, anyone can set up a temporary shop, but you need a permit.

    Call (514) 872-7080 between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. on Thursday prior to the Sunday you want to sell your wares to reserve a spot. The earlier you call, the better. You must be a Montreal resident over 16 years old with a mailing address. If accepted, you will then have to show up at the specified location to pick up your city permit, on said Sunday around 12:30 p.m.