Monday, July 25, 2011
The spirit of Montreal is vibrant and eclectic. It grabs you immediately and inspires you to explore this lovely and complex city. Although Montreal hosts scads of festivals, the one that truly embodies its free-spirited vibe is the Mount Royal Tam Tam Festival or Les Tam Tams Du Mount Royal. Tam Tams is French for drums and you'll see every version of percussion instrument, played by every kind of person at this weekly fest. Held at the foot of the famous Mount Royal, surrounding a statue of Sir George-Etienne Cartier, crowds of revelers, dancers, musicians and party people drum and dance from noon to sunset.
I was really excited to attend the festival and I wasn't disappointed. Even though I go to dozens of festivals every year, the Tams Tams is special. Locals and tourists drop any inhibitions and connect through music. For over 20 years, the festival has unfolded every summer Sunday in Mount Royal Park and I could see the joy that the ritual has created. I witnessed a grandmother in a sari dance with a shirtless teen, I watched a man with a long gray beard whirl around with his dog and I saw girls in ponytails grab tambourines to join a circle of men pounding on Djembe drums. The sun blazed down mercilessly but that didn't stop anybody, it only seemed to supply more energy. Vendors lined up under trees with handmade clothes, jewelry, hats and instruments. With an ice cream cart selling cones and frozen treats, there was no real reason to leave. After three hours, I tore myself away but only because I had a poutine date with Emilie'. The Tam Tam jam represents a quintessential element of Montreal. Check out the energy with this video: