Entertainment

Festival d’été de Québec for the first time since 2019 brings a sense of relief to Quebec City tourism

Festival d’été de Québec (FEQ), one of the largest music festivals in the country, will conclude on Sunday, after bringing hundreds of thousands of people to Quebec City for 12 days.

Boasting a lineup that included Alanis Morisette and Rage Against the Machine, the festival gave the provincial capital a much-needed boost after two summers rife with COVID cancellations.

Every night, up to 90,000 people pack the Historical Plains of Abraham, and the secondary stages bring in tens of thousands more.

Organizers say the combination makes the festival the largest of its kind in Canada.

“What’s bigger?” question from Louis Bellevance, vice president of Art and Content Directing at BLEUFEU, the nonprofit behind FEQ. “I think the Calgary Stampede is a big one, but no one has 90,000 people. No one sells 130,000 or 140,000 tickets for likes every day. You know, it’s not a number for five nights. That is nightly. Every night, 140,000 people can show up at all stages for $140.

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After being canceled two years in a row because of COVID, the team behind the event, which boasts 200 different shows, had to constantly remind themselves that they weren’t a dream.

Bellavance said: “I had to pinch myself. “I am doing this again. The whole team is the same, we welcome this as a relief.”

Not entirely sure if people are ready to return, Quebec City’s tourism industry has defied expectations in 2022. In the midst of the 7th wave, however, hundreds of thousands of people showed up. .

“We are ready for slow sales. It didn’t happen to us. It is the opposite. Bellavance said.

Pedestrians on the busy streets expressed their happiness at seeing thousands of people again.

“We’ve been closed for so long and it’s finally summer and we’re going to have a good time,” said Kelley Stotland, who said she has made several summer trips to the festival from Montreal . “Honestly, it makes me really happy. It’s nice to be back with everyone.

READ MORE: Country Thunder attendees looking to beat the heat in Craven, Sask.

Destination Québec Cité, the city’s tourism promotion agency, says the festival brings in a direct economic impact of five million dollars.

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Crowds of humanity flock to Avenue Grande Allée and the historic streets of Quebec’s old city. Restaurants that were forced to close during the months-long pandemic are now packed.

“We’re approaching 80 to 90 percent of 2019’s volume, so that’s really encouraging,” said Robert Mercure, general manager of Destination Québec Cité.

Officials said while the numbers were not in the pre-pandemic range, they beat forecasts. International and American tourists have returned.

“We just said how great it was. It definitely came back,” said Meg Ganulin, from Cincinatti, Ohio. She said the removal of cross-border travel restrictions made it easier to visit her fiancé, who now lives in Toronto.

“The hotels are doing very well. Mercure says occupancy is 70% in June, and we will hit 80% or more in July and August,” Mercure said.

However, the pandemic is not over yet and FEQ is not without a few COVID hiccups.

“We have a number of bands that have struggled with it, some have not been able to succeed because of it,” Bellavance said. “It’s never as smooth as it looks.”

A rainstorm forced the cancellation of Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonzi’s performance on the Plains of Abraham on Thursday, creating some chaos.

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“It’s an act of God, it happens,” said Bellavance, who said Fonzi sang in front of 800 people in the house instead of tens of thousands.

READ MORE: Montreal radio co-hosts say they were victims of racism at jazz festival

The positivity has far outweighed the negative for the unique festival that has taken place over the past 50+ years, but somehow, remains in the spotlight in conversations about major North American music festivals like Coachella, Lollapalooza and Osheaga.

Bellavance said that FEQ’s reputation is constantly increasing among fans as well as A-list artists.

“You see these massive stars very often, after a moment they realize that this is not just a random night in a 54-night tour. This is possibly one of the best tours and they say it from the stage, Don’t listen to me. They say it nightly,” Bellavance told Global News.

The tourist season in Quebec City doesn’t end with festivals. There are events that last throughout the summer. Although his visit will be a sad one about reconciliation, the Pope’s presence in late July is expected to bring in hundreds of thousands of people and tens of millions of dollars.

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