By STEVEN HOWELL Press-Republican
---- — MONTREAL — Road trip!
While festival season in Montreal is well under way in the heart of the city, a few area fests — most within an hour or so from downtown — may take a bit more planning and an overnight stay.
Here are a few regional celebrations to enjoy:
First up, the Laval World Choral Music Festival (or Laval’s Mondial Loto-Quebec) provides a month-long sing-along of choral concerts, youth choir meet-and-greets and some pretty big-name musical acts. The fest celebrates its ninth edition in the western Montreal suburb of Laval.
Events and concerts are held at outdoor parks big enough to host some 60,000-plus spectators, such as the Centre de la Nature and Parc Montmorency. Intimate choral concerts will also be performed at 10 local churches.
The Black Keys perform Friday, July 5, and a Chicago and Credence Clearwater Revisited double bill is Saturday, July 6.
The festival began Wednesday and continues through Sunday, July 7. Complete choir listings, directions, dates and pricing can be found at www.mlql.ca. Call (888) 935-9229 for questions.
Festival de Lanaudiere combines classical music, culture and a walk in the woods.
The 36th edition, held in Joliette, about 45 minutes northwest of Montreal, features 28 full-length classical concerts, including Orchestre Metropolitain, I Musici de Montreal, Les Violons du Roy, the Quebec Symphony and the Montreal Symphony.
The festival will celebrate the bicentenaries of the birth of Verdi and Wagner with the Verdi Gala, which offers more than three hours of music with arias, duets and ensembles on Saturday, Aug. 3, and a closing concert devoted to Wagner on Sunday, Aug. 11. The main concerts are held at the L’Amphitheatre Fernand-Lindsay.
Festival de Lanaudiere runs from Saturday, July 13, through Sunday, Aug. 11. For scheduling, ticket prices and information, call (450) 759-4343 or visit www.lanaudiere.org. A festival shuttle operates between the Infotourist Center on Peel Street in Montreal and the Amphitheatre on Fridays and Saturdays during the fest as well as on Aug. 11. For shuttle information and reservations, call (800) 561-4343.
FOLK AND DANCE
Mondial des Cultures des Drummondville is a colorful celebration of traditional folk music and dance from around the world in nearby Drummondville, about an hour and a half northeast of Montreal Thursday, July 4, through Sunday, July 14.
Considered one of the five largest folklore festivals in the world, the event attracts more than 1,000 performers and 300,000 visitors.
The highlight is the free International Parade, where hundreds of visiting performers dressed in exotic costumes make their way through the streets of downtown Drummondville on an almost 1-mile, colorful, Mardi Gras-style circuit. The International Parade is held at 9 p.m. Tuesday, July 9. Call (819) 472-1184 or visit www.mondialdescultures.com for more information.
More dance, this time contemporary and ballet, takes center stage at the Festival des Arts de Saint-Sauveur in St. Sauveur, about an hour north of Montreal in the Laurentians region of Quebec.
Highlighted companies include the Paris Opera Ballet, Ballet BC, the Italian contemporary troupe Aterballetto and some homegrown dance from Ballets Jazz de Montreal. Music highlights include New Orleans’ legendary Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
The Festival des Arts de Saint-Sauveur runs from Thursday, July 25, to Saturday, Aug. 3. For information, call (866) 908-9090 or visit www.fass.ca.
The International Balloon Festival of St. Jean sur Richelieu, about 20 minutes southeast of Montreal, takes flight at the St. Jean Municipal Airport from Saturday, Aug. 10, through Thursday, Aug. 18, with games, rides, concerts and more than 100 colorful hot-air balloons that depart every day of the fest.
Balloons this year include a firefighter, a floating fire hydrant, a soaring scuba diver, Peanut the Elephant and Pegleg Pete, a one-legged parrot pirate.
Morning flights depart at 6 a.m. at locations near the airport, but the more popular evening balloons lift off around 6 p.m. from the airport grounds as long as weather conditions permit. Evening rides start at $210.
The popular Night Glows transforms the hot-air balloons into giant colorful Chinese lanterns at 8:45 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 11, through Thursday, Aug. 15.
A one-day pass costs $20 for those 13 and older ($25 on Saturdays), and $8 for children ages 3 to 12. Concerts are included; parking and rides cost extra. Call (450) 347-9555 or visit www.montgolfieres.com to learn more.
Steven Howell is the author of Montreal Essential Guide, a Sutro Media iPhone travel app available at iTunes.com.