C'est la saison de jazz à Montreal! Starting Thursday night and running through next weekend, Francophone Canada's cultural metropolis hosts its grand prix: the Montreal International Jazz Festival. The self-proclaimed "largest jazz festival in the world" casts a musical spell over the city, across 10 outdoor stages, 15 concert halls and clubs galore with more than 1,000 shows.
Much of the festival's magic comes from its two million attendees. High society in bow ties and evening gowns peacefully intermingles with young fans in high-top sneakers. Toddlers and old folks dance together in the streets. Brass bands battle across intersections. Jugglers, puppeteers, clowns — street performers of all stripes — compete for your attention. Mix in Montreal's wondrous culinary pleasures, and it's Cirque du Soleil for your senses.
As for the on-stage talent, it comes from everywhere, but many featured performers have a well-known Canadian connection. The singer-songwriter Rufus Wainright will give a free homecoming concert for an anticipated record-setting crowd. Many of the city's local jazz artists are propped up, too. Here are five to catch.