Quebec's new France festival

african kings

Quebec, Canada

As I passed through the gateway of the oldest walled city in North America, I could hear a buzz of excitement. Hoards of visitors swarmed the cobblestone streets. They had come to Canada to join the people of Quebec City in the celebration of their French heritage. For 14 years, the citizens of the UNESCO-protected site have partied in the streets for five days during Les Fetes de la Nouvelle France or The New France Festival.

It takes place in early August in Lower Town where, in 1608, the first French settlers established their colony on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. The stone buildings that you see today have replaced the original wooden structures that were destroyed in the devastating fire of 1682. Festival activities center mainly in this area, but extend to Upper Town, also. Quebec is a walking city on two levels and traveling through the narrow, inclining streets is doable. But if you find it too challenging, you may ride a funicular up and down the cliff.

I was fortunate enough to be outfitted with a beautiful gown of that early time period. Along with the other participants, I felt that we had stepped back in time. Dressed in clothing from the 17th and 18th centuries, men, women and children had been transformed into the aristocracy, farmers, merchants, soldiers, clergy, trappers, buccaneers and others – with even a few folks representing the native people of the region. Those of us in costume paraded through Old Town behind a band that was dressed in historic uniforms.

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