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Summer and fall in Québec City are always action-packed. And there’s even more going on this year, thanks to the celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday. Here are 12 new reasons to visit one of North America’s oldest—circa 1608!—cities right now.

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Plains of Abraham

Plains of Abraham | Photo by Luc-Antoine Couturier

Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day celebration

Québec’s National Holiday kicks off the celebration season in earnest. On June 23, be among the thousands attending a free outdoor concert on the Plains of Abraham. June 24 is Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, marked by a variety of traditional celebrations.

First Nations Pow Wow and Canada Day

Discover the traditions of First Nations at the Wendake International Pow Wow, taking place between June 30 and July 2. Watch traditional dancing, competitions and traditional handicrafts demonstrations while chowing down on native food. Canada Day is celebrated July 1 with a lineup of free activities and festivities around town, including family activities, performances and fireworks. Expect more of the same on Québec City Day on July 3.

Festival d'été de Québec

Festival d’été de Québec | Photo by Francis Gagnon

Festival d’été de Québec concerts

The highlight of the summer season is always the  Festival d’été de Québec. This year, the music extravaganza celebrates its 50th anniversary between July 6-16. Metallica, Kendrick Lamar, Pink, The Who and Backstreet Boys are among the scores of musical acts performing.

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Street performers

In addition to ticketed concerts, several free performances will take place on the antique streets of Québec City. They include L’Orchestre d’Hommes-Orchestres, masters of music who recycle everyday objects into musical instruments; Les Plasticiens Volants, a French street theater troupe who will parade giant puppets above festival-going crowds; and Transe Express, which presents monumental street performances involves scores of actors, acrobats, percussionists, violinists, trapeze artists and opera singers. Aria ready for that?

Tall ships

As part of the 150th celebration, a fleet of 40 tall ships will be sailing Canadian waters for nearly two months. The high point of Rendez-vous 2017 will be the presence of this flotilla in Québec City from July 18 to 23. There will be ship tours, thematic activities on the docks and a host of other free activities.

French-Canadian history reenacted

Every year, Québec City turns back the clock to the 17th- and 18th- centuries during Fetes de la Nouvelle-France. Between August 9 and 23, reenactors, artists and musicians take to the streets with pomp and humor to showcase the cultural heritage of the era. Visitors get to dress up, too.

quebec, canada

The great outdoors | Photo by Jeff Renette Photography

More wild adventures near Quebec City:

Summer and early fall are not just about festivals. Get ready for some wild exploits nearby. Go ziplining in Sarbayä Nature and Adventure Park,  just 15 minutes from downtown. The park has a tree-top obstacle course and seven ziplines. Take to the waters of the St. Lawrence River for guided sea kayaking along the coast of Île d’Orléans. Or take a seat on the Air Canyon and find yourself dangling over the waterfalls and pristine forest of Canyon Sainte-Anne. For something more extreme, slip into a harness, strap on a helmet and clip onto a steel cable to explore Canyon Sainte-Anne’s sheer rock walls. Most of these outdoor adventures are available through October.

Tagged: Canada

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Laura Powell

Laura Powell

Laura is a 20-year veteran travel journalist. She was CNN's first travel reporter, and has written for publications ranging from Alaska Airlines Magazine to The Washington Post. Find her at the or on Twitter: @dailysuitcase

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