Despite the cloudy skies, organizers were hoping for a big turnout at Montreal's St-Jean-Baptiste festivities Friday, an annual celebration of Quebec culture.

In Montreal, the Fête nationale kicked off with a parade starting at the corner of Fullum and Sherbrooke streets and ending at Park Maisonneuve.

Thousands braved the elements to attend, including volunteer Danielle Grenier, who had a homemade Jacques Cartier float in the parade.

"We're used to the weather in North America, it's part of our charm," she said. "I'd rather be outside under the rain with my little poncho."

Festivities are scheduled for most of Friday afternoon and evening at Park Maisonneuve.

Thousands celebrated in Quebec City, but attendance down

Thousands of people celebrated the Fête nationale in Quebec City Thursday night, but some partygoers said the rain and new rules against bringing alcohol on site kept some people away.

For the first time, partygoers could not bring their own alcohol to the annual party on the Plains of Abraham, and there was heightened security.

People attending the event had their bags searched as they approached the Plains, and all members of Quebec City's police force were on duty.

Reveller Yohanne Arnoid said he felt the police presence was too much.

"They are everywhere just watching us," he said.

Others, like Caroline Grondin, felt the new measures changed the tone of the party for the better.

"For a family like us it's just great," she said. "We have a teenager here and he's not with us and we feel safe about that. It's a great thing."

Police say they made 30 arrests Thursday night, nearly all for minor infractions.

The city of Quebec said the new rules are intended to make the St-Jean celebrations safer. They said they want the party to eventually become a family event, like the the Quebec Winter Carnival.