On the Venn Diagram of Montréal’s passion for summer, festivals, and street art, MURAL sits at the center. The 11-day urban art festival (June 6-16, 2024) turns the city’s buzzy, bohemian, Boulevard Saint-Laurent into an open air music and mural extravaganza highlighted by the creation of wall-sized masterpieces in real time.

The party lasts all day and much of the night.

“It’s Montreal, it’s early June, it’s the effervescence of the start of the summer; we have such a hard winter, when this arrives, we kind of get crazy,” Pierre-Alain Benoit, Director General at MURAL, the non-profit organization operating the festival, told Forbes.com.

Debuting in 2013, the event has successfully capitalized on street art’s 21st century evolution from outlaw to mainstream.

“The older graffiti tradition was an underground, illegal (subculture); the movement was transforming, opening itself to what I say is the post-graffiti world and street art,” Benoit said. “Muralism, artists doing portraits, abstract or figurative works on large scale walls in a more legal and open context so that it becomes more accessible for the public.”

MURAL’s timing was perfect, aligning exactly with a global explosion in street art and public mural making which has made it the most popular artform in the world. It also picked the ideal location.

“The neighborhood and the street itself–Boulevard Saint-Laurent–were the perfect ecosystem because it always was a profoundly eclectic environment where there was an openness and a tolerance, a patchwork vibe of the cultural and economic colliding,” Benoit explains. “It’s retail during the day, it’s family oriented during the day, and then becomes nightlife, party, and bars at night, it’s always been that way.”

MURAL’s 12th edition welcomes 14 headlining visual artists from Montréal and around the world who’ll be painting walls along Boulevard Saint-Laurent between Sherbrooke Street and Avenue du Mont-Royal. Adding to the spectacle are interactive installations, 3-D light animations, sidewalk art, creative transformations of public spaces, ticketed musical events, free live music, performance art, a local artisan market, and tens of thousands of attendees daily.

The event’s beloved Block Party concerts have become so popular they moved off-site this year to the Peel Bassin. Nodding to street art’s historic connection to Hip-Hop culture, six nights of concerts will be headlined by Hip-Hop icon Rick Ross on June 15.

While the Block Parties and special events along Boulevard Saint-Laurent are ticketed, passing through MURAL and watching the artists is free. The street will be closed to car traffic during the event.

Visit Montréal

Whether in Montréal for MURAL, the F-1 Grand Prix being simultaneously held on the art festival’s opening weekend–expect massive crowds and traffic snarls–or any other reason, strolling Boulevard Saint-Laurent past the eclectic shops and restaurants makes for a delightful time. This street and the wider Plateau neighborhood have served as the cradle for a handful of Montréal’s main immigrant communities since the early 20th century.

Pop into world famous Schwartz Hebrew Deli and order the No. 4: smoked meat sandwich. Brisket–fatty and delicious; it’ll be ready in about two minutes. They have poutine as well.

Hotel 10, ideally situated at the intersection of Saint-Laurent and Sherbrooke, puts the neighborhood and entrance to MURAL at the doorstep of guests. The arty property with rates lower than you’d expect and an on-site breakfast to die for helps preserve the city’s creative traditions as well.

In the early 1990s, before it was a hotel, André “Dédé” Fortin lived on the building’s third floor. There, Fortin put together Les Colocs, a beloved Quebec 90s band he fronted. He took his own life in 2000. Hotel 10 honors Fortin in its Suite 2116, retrofitted to reflect how the singer would have set the room up when he lived there. It is available for guest stays.

Having been a locus for street art for more than a decade, the Plateau is loaded with murals on Boulevard Saint-Laurent and off. Guided mural tours around the neighborhood during the festival are held in conjunction with Spade & Palacio, a local tour company offering walking explorations of the city’s murals year round. Tours share the backstory of street art and artists from Montréal and beyond along with introducing guests to the genre’s lingo, like “throw up,” “extinguisher hit,” “pieces,” and “heaven spots.”

Summer in Quebec is glorious with bright, mild days and sundown coming well after 9:00 PM. Montréal makes the most of it presenting a roster of festivals.

On MURAL’s heels comes the city’s international jazz festival June 27 through July 6 featuring André 3000 and Norah Jones for 2024. Thousands of artists perform hundreds of concerts across town, many in open air venues.

Osheaga, another music and visual arts festival, takes place later in July modeling itself after European style festivals.

There’s even a second street art/urban culture festival in August, Under Pressure, which predates MURAL.

Visitors to Montréal and Quebec from outside of Canada will want to remember a passport is needed for entry into the country, the official language is French–although nearly everyone in the city speaks good English–and the preferred currency is the Canadian dollar.



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