All the world’s on stage at the Festival Mondiale de Folklore
It’s a hot, muggy July and you want to get out of town to do something new and different.
Why not head along Highway 20 to Drummondville, for the annual folk festival? It’s a chance to breathe the cleaner air, see the stars at night and enjoy the charm and slower pace of a Quebec town.
The Mondial des Cultures started in 1982 as the Festival Mondiale de Folklore Drummond. The dance group Mackinaw, after performing in Dijon, France, chose to work from home, noted administrative director Yves Parenteau, and 30 years later, it’s still going strong.
With a budget of $2.8 million, the 11-day festival is so popular that last year 230,000 visitors clicked through the turnstiles.
Unless you bring a tent or find a place to stay in a nearby town, don’t plan to stay overnight: All local hotel and motel rooms are booked solid for the duration.
At its core, it remains what it always was —a celebration of singing, dancing and music in the folk vein, meaning of, by and for the people, based on the traditions of the various countries and regions represented.
It all happens in Woodyatt Park in the heart of downtown, bordering the St. François River. An all-day ticket, lasting from noon to midnight, costs $16, free for children under 12. A chair rental will cost you another $9.
Groups of up to six are in from Argentina, Peru, Brazil, Mexico, Guadeloupe, Georgia, China, Vietnam, India, Tahiti and Basque regions, two Quebec groups for traditional fare and Mackinaw for Canada.
(Groups from Algeria, Ghana and Burundi were in visa limbo at press time.)
But it’s much more than just colourfully dressed folk dancers, as you’ll see if you head out on Thursday, July 7, at 8 pm, when all 14 performing groups will take part in a spectacular opening ceremony.
The percussion group Bloco (not my relatives), Brazilian dancers and the African circus company Kalabente will be featured, followed by a musical fireworks display. There is plenty to see every day, including late-night fireworks on July 7, 9, 12, 16, and 17, and local performers at 9 pm, including Gregory Charles (July 8), Florence K (July 14) and Roch Voisine with Americana (July 15), all with folk groups integrated into their shows.
To get a taste of all folk groups, come on down July 12 for the international parade, starting at 9 pm.
It’s free, presented by the city of Drummondville.
The shows will go on rain or shine because there is a big tent on site to protect against the elements.