Through Sept. 28, Espace 400e will be at the heart of many commemorative activities as the gathering place and performance site of constant activity in the Old Port: street arts shows, workshops for children, music and performances, lectures and debates, community-driven artistic and other events. Stop in for a schedule of the city's events, or visit this newly erected building along Bassin Louise in the Old Port of Quebec City for a number of special events such as the Passengers exhibit ($5-$7), in which visitors become "passengers" exploring the history of the settlement of the city in its 400 years. Outside, Robert Lepage's Image Mill, a 40-minute visual and audio production, is projected each night against the 81 grain silos in the Port of Quebec, also telling the tale of Quebec City's 400 years of history (besides Espace 400e, excellent viewing is to be had from Chateau Frontenac, the Marie-Guyard building, the ramparts, Bassin Louise piers and the south shore of the St. Lawrence River).
For more information about the festivities, visit www. myquebec2008.com; click on the English version.
July 3 to 5
July 3 is the actual anniversary of the founding of Quebec City, the high point of the year's festivities with a Freedom of the City Ceremony at the Basilique de Quebec, a formal high Mass and a military parade. At 3:30 p.m. on July 3 (4:30 p.m. on July 4 and 5), a commemorative show called "Encounters" will be presented at Place de l'Assemblee-Nationale, and the evening of July 3 culminates in a 30-minute fireworks display launched from the middle of the St. Lawrence River at Pointe-a-Carcy. On the evening of July 4, different troupes of street performers entertain in a two-hour show at the Pointe-aux-Lievres sector of Cartier-Brebeuf park; the next night street performers take over the length of Boulevard Rene-Levesque on temporary stages.
The climax of the weekend will be the Great Family Gathering. Several thousand people will converge on the Plains of Abraham to celebrate Quebec's birthday together.
Under the full moon, the city pays tribute to the majestic St. Lawrence River under the theme of "Meetings and Encounters." This show is presented on the shores and on the water, where a huge dance floor will be installed. The evening features acrobatics, dancing, giant screen projection and performances featuring fire and water.
Canadian superstar Celine Dion will perform on the Plains of Abraham with several other artists in a free public concert.
Sept. 18 to 24
Founded by Spanish tenor Placido Domingo in 1993, Operalia is among the most prestigious singing contests in the world. Held in a different city every year, the competition is presented in Canada for the first time. Maestro Domingo will be in attendance to supervise the voting and to help and coach the 40 contestants chosen from among 1,000 candidates worldwide.
Oct. 17 to 19
There will be an exclusive Cirque du Soleil performance, with artists from Quebec and from elsewhere in the French-speaking world.
Laura Reiley, Times staff writer