Bonne St-Jean!

Tomorrow is the Fête nationale des Québécois or, as everyone who is not the government puts it, la Saint-Jean-Baptiste. I’m not big on national holidays in general but what makes this one so agreeable is that it involves a ton of great public celebrations, including dozens of small-scale neighbourhood parties, in every corner of town. The official Fête nationale website has a comprehensive list, by district, of the celebration. Some are more exciting than others (personally, I’m not willing to get out of bed before noon for face-painting and clowns) but there’s at least plenty of options for you to make a choice of what to do tomorrow.

It’s sort of a tradition for me to head down to Chinatown on Saint-Jean. This year, as always, there will be a big sidewalk sale and a variety show presented on the stage at Sun Yet Sen Square. It’s always fun, busy and Québécois in the most post-modern of ways. After that I usually hit up one of the many other neighbourhood festivals around town. Outremont‘s celebration is enjoyable if only because you get to spend an evening sitting under the lush canopy of Bloomfield Street; there’s even a big communal supper (bring your own food). How long you stay depends entirely on your tolerance for bourgeois chit-chat and wholesome family fun. Not too far away, the festivities in Parc Lahaie, at the bottom of Mile End, get started at the end of the afternoon and run until just before midnight.

By then, however, you could very well have something even better to do: say goodbye to the Parc sans nom with a memorable under-the-viaduct Saint-Jean blowout. Dare-Dare will be hosting a vernissage for J.R. Carpenter’s new project, In absentia, about memory and absence in Mile End; it will start at 5pm and run until 11pm (at least officially) with a soundtrack provided by a number of DJs and musicians.

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