Festival Celtique de Quebec

Quebec City is a colourful cornucopia of culture anytime of the year. Beginning tomorrow, and running over 11 days, le Festival Celtique de Quebec paints the provincial capital with tinges of tartan and green. Here, Event Manager Julien Bergeron tees-up the fun and festivities.

What are your own roots?
My father is Italian and my mother is from Quebec, but my great-grandmother is from Ireland. I was born and raised in a French town is the Eastern Townships of Quebec. Traditional music and huge family gatherings have been a big part of my life since my earliest memories.

When and why did you get involved with this event?
I was recruited in 2010 to help structure the finances and the sponsorship side of the organization. I got hooked on the team spirit of everyone involved.

What are the challenges of being involved?
The hardest thing is to balance my personal time, my responsibilities with the festival, and my full-time day job as the General Manager of a new restaurant here.

What are the rewards?
The reason why I invest so much of my free time (and a lot of sleepless nights…) is knowing what kind of impact the event has upon Quebec City and seeing all the festival-goers having a great time! Nothing compares to this feeling.

Why is it an important event for the community there?
Historically, Quebec City was built by waves of immigration from Brittany, Scotland and Ireland ~ all Celtic nations. More than 50% of everyone still living in the greater Quebec area are descendants of these people. We owe it to them to keep our origins alive.

What can attendees expect this year?
Two new events; a ceilidh on rue St-Jean street, which will now close the summer season here every year, and, as well, this year marks our first Highland Games program for the festivities ~ a must for everyone who wants to partake in the fun!

How else are you involved with the Celtic community there?
Since 2009, I have been involved with the revising of the St. Patrick’s Day parade. Also, as one of the organizers of the festival, I try to support the Irish pubs as often as possible (ha-ha).

Are we doing enough to preserve and promote Celtic culture generally?
This is a difficult question to give a short answer to. We will never have the means to promote Celtic culture at a proper level. However, I think it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to keep it alive by creating, composing, reading, dancing, studying, attending events, etc. And it’s fun to dig through our history and bring that colour to our lives today.

What can we be doing better?
Keep doing our best, stay alert for new opportunities and stay open to creative ways of communicating.

What does the future look like for the event?
Last year was a “wake up call” for us. We were getting comfortable with the way we were doing things and saw that the crowd wanted more. Over the winter we redefined the festival in a way that will make it a must-attend event for everyone. It’s interesting to note that we are a French community that has been defined by mass immigration from Celtic countries throughout its history, and today more people of that ancestry live within a six-hour drive from us than there are people living in Ireland, Scotland and Brittany combined! As such, our future looks quite bright.