MONTREAL — These Montreal area summer fests may not be the biggest, but they sure have a loyal following.
Here’s how to add big-top, big-screen and folk-dance fun to your Montreal summer docket.
First, a visit to the big top is in order with the third edition of Montreal Completement Cirque, the Montreal Circus Arts Festival. It begins today and continues through July 15.
In all, some two dozen circus troupes will present more than 100 ticketed and free indoor and outdoor performances at venues throughout the city. Shows include a temporary big top located in the Old Port of Montreal, La Tohu in the St. Michel neighborhood, Theatre Outremont in Mile End and Usine C in the Village.
Local Quebec circus troupe Les 7 Doigts de la Main presents their new show titled “Sequence 8” at La Tohu. Dubbed original, sensual and emotional, “Sequence 8” explores “the notion of the encounter and the connection with the ‘other.’” It runs most days for the duration of the fest. Tickets range from $27 to $55.
Hailing from Sweden and making its North American premiere is “Underman” by Circus Cirkor. Here, a trio of performers combines acrobatics with humor, live music and poignant storytelling. It runs July 9 through 14. Tickets cost $28 and $35.
While performing since April, acclaimed company Cirque du Soleil lends its name to the festival banner with its new world-premiere show, “Amaluna.” The performance is held under its big top in the Old Port through July 14. There are not many seats left at $59 and $64.
A number of free circus performances are held throughout the city, too. New this year, the festival has taken over St. Denis Street and Place Emilie Gamelin in the Latin Quarter. Free performances are held every evening through July 8, as well as July 10 through 14.
For the complete Completement Cirque schedule, visit www.montrealcompletementcirque.com.
Next, a little festive dance — and a road trip — are in order at Le Mondial des Cultures de Drummondville, a colorful celebration of traditional folklore, music and dance. Visiting performing troupes hail from Canada, the United States and around the world with more than 1,000 performers in attendance. This year’s edition takes place today through July 15.
Considered one of the five largest folklore festivals in the word, some 300,000 visitors attend the 11-day event, a mix of free and paid performances. A colorful parade of costumes, the festival grand opening and fireworks kick off the fest at 7 tonight in the heart of downtown Drummondville, about an hour northeast of Montreal.
For more information, call (819) 472-1184 or visit www.mondialdescultures.com.
Finally, cinephiles to the front of the line for one of Montreal’s most unique fests the city has to offer.
Running July 19 through Aug. 7 is the 16th edition of the FanTasia Film Festival, which features the latest fantasy, martial arts, comedy, drama, western, sci-fi and animated movies from all over the world.
Some 150 feature films and hundreds of shorts are screened at a number of venues, including Place des Arts, Cinema Imperial and Cinematheque Quebecoise. The fest also features juried film awards, free film screenings under the stars and a number of conferences open to the public.
Feature films of note include Mark Hamill, aka Luke Skywalker, taking a decidedly sinister turn in the international premiere of Kern Saxton’s crime thriller “Sushi Girl.”
The fest will pay tribute to director Jennifer Lynch, whose past work includes the controversial “Boxing Helena.” Screening this year is her new film, “Chained,” which stars Vincent D’onofrio as a taxi-driving serial killer who abducts a young boy and raises him as his son. The twist: “dad” attempts to raise the boy as a serial killer as well.
The fest offers an art exhibition as well with “If They Came from Within: An Alternative History of Canadian Horror Movies,” which is presented at Cinematheque Quebecoise July 20 through 29.
For more information, call (514) 490-9354 or visit www.festivalfantasia.com.
Steven Howell is the author of Montreal Essential Guide, a Sutro Media iPhone travel app available at iTunes.com.