Festival Bloomsday Montréal Returns in June

Learn more about the lineup here!

By: May. 30, 2023
Festival Bloomsday Montréal Returns in June

Festival Bloomsday Montréal, now in its 12th year, is the largest Bloomsday Festival outside Dublin. This June there's something for everyone, with activities every day for a full seven days both in person and online. Forty percent of Quebecers have some Irish ancestry. This eclectic festival celebrates Irish heritage while acknowledging and including the diverse cultures and identities that make up our vibrant city. Festival Bloomsday Montréal president Kevin Wright invites Montrealers and global citizens everywhere to this Irish culturefest of music, literature, film, pubbing and eye-opening discussion starting June 10 through to Bloomsday itself, June 16, when local performers bring scenes from Ulysses to life. Venues for this year’s festival include Westmount Baptist Church, Atwater Library, Westmount Library, downtown Montreal pubs, Concordia University and the Segal Centre. Most events are free or pay-what-you-decide.

Many events will be hybrid; accessible in person and online through livestreaming or to be viewed later. However, nothing beats the camaraderie of attending with fellow festival-goers. Award-winning journalist, artist and Joyce enthusiast Peggy Curran said: "Even if—maybe especially if!—you find James Joyce's rich language and complex structure a little scary, it's fun to take an annual guided tour through Dublin with Leopold and Molly Bloom.” Curran will be one of the illustrious readers of Ulysses excerpts on the final day of the festival.

7-day program offers wide range of events- join the shamroguery!

Festival Bloomsday Montréal gets the ball rolling on June 10 with "What's All the Blooming Fuss About?", a rollicking conversation between Joyce scholar, James Phelan and veteran broadcaster Dennis Trudeau, and later in the day a magnificent choral concert by À ContreVoix, whose members come in from as far away as Sherbrooke and beyond; the fest continues with a haunted pub crawl led by the ever-engaging Donovan King (Sun. June 11); an inspiring ‘academic day’ of discussion and discovery about Joyce's life and work moderated by St. Patrick's Parade Queen Samara O'Gorman, including a special appearance by poet and novelist Professor B. W. Powe (June 12); an evening of toe-tapping Celtic tunes from Gairloch featuring ace musicians Kate Bevan-Baker, Seán Dagher and David Gossage (June 13); the North American première of The War at Home, a tough, moving documentary on Ukrainian refugees in Ireland -funds collected will go to an organization supporting Ukrainian refugees in Montreal (June 14); and an interview between Newfoundland-born writer Tracey Waddleton who'll happily sign copies of her short story collection Send More Tourists... the Last Ones Were Delicious, and poet and performer Rachel McCrum, followed by a Q&A and accompanied by fiddler extraordinaire Jonathan Moorman (June 15).

Also contributing to this year's festival are filmmaker Sally Roden; cultural historian Kerry McElroy; scholars Meaghan Landrigan-Buttle, Giselle Gonzalez Garcia and Louise Cauchon; curator and essayist Robert Graham; caricaturist Craig Morriss; and mezzo-soprano Johanne Patry.

As always, Bloomsday itself, June 16, is dedicated to readings from the famous novel, Ulysses. Reviled and revered for its sex and sacrilege, loved and loathed for its stylistic complexity, the book is best savoured by hearing it read aloud. For the 12th edition, Kevin Wright, festival President and emcee of the event, has selected some of the juicier passages that suit this year's theme: pairings. Or is it parings… or maybe pear-rings? With Joyce, you can never be sure… Readers gathering at the Westmount Library include Pat Machin, Liam Phelan-Cox, Ellen Rubin, Clive Brewer, Susan Gilmore, Sylvia Cymbalista, Ann Elbourne, John Donohue, and back by popular demand, the multi-talented sisters Peggy Curran and Colleen Curran. This is an all-day affair including refreshments.

The final Bloomsday event culminates with Molly Bloom's bedroom musings on love, lust, motherhood, money, music and just about everything else, including the kitchen sink. Inspired by the pairings theme, festival Artistic Director Kathleen Fee combed the novel for sections where Leopold and Molly recount the same incident, hundreds of pages apart. They'll be read by Fee, who has been giving voice to Molly since the festival’s first year, and Irish-Canadian actor Julian Casey. Hearing these excerpts side by side will highlight Joyce's intricate, comical and mind-bending artistry that generations have wrestled with.

Explaining his life-long fascination, scientist, educator and festival founder Dave Schurman muses, “James Joyce’s Ulysses is about love, betrayal, forgiveness, nationalism, otherness, compromise, memory and music. But at its core, it’s about a man and a woman, living in a city, asking lots of questions and remembering the past. Basically, it’s how we all make it through the day.”




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