Surprise circus performances to brighten up streets of Montreal this week

While the 11th edition of the Completment Cirque festival is technically cancelled due to COVID-19, the spirit of circus persists with a series of secret, surprise performances in Montreal neighbourhoods.

The locations are kept secret in order to prevent a crowd from gathering to watch

The 11th edition of the circus festival will be a far cry from previous years, but lucky Montrealers will still get a chance to see some incredible feats in their own neighbourhoods. (Completment Cirque/Facebook)

Montreal's annual circus festival is putting on a series of outdoor pop-up performances from July 6 to 12, but organizers can't reveal where or when these shows will take place.

​"We can't invite thousands of people to come in the streets," said Nadine Marchand, artistic director of Montréal Complètement Cirque.

While the 11th edition of the festival is technically cancelled due to COVID-19, the spirit of circus persists with a series of secret, surprise performances in Montreal neighbourhoods.

Marchand said a truck called the "Bonheur Mobile" will roll up to alleys, parks, streets and squares in Saint-Michel, Anjou, St. Henri and the Quartier des Spectacles (to name a few) over the next week.

Ten Quebec circus performers will come rolling out and put on an hour-and-a-half-long show for any unsuspecting Montrealers who happen to be passing by or looking out the window.

"We just wanted to bring moments of happiness and joy to the public and put some spirit of the circus in the city," she said.

As part of the adapted festival, short videos were shot around Montreal which will be aired on TV and on social media. (Completment Cirque/Facebook)

Early on in the confinement, a team of four circus companies started performing in the streets of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, to the delight of residents.

Many of the performers live in that area, explained Marchand, and with everyone stuck inside, they decided to put on a little show for the neighbours.

"People were so happy to see them coming, so they kept doing it," she said.

Wanting to keep the fun going, the circus festival teamed up with the companies who started the initiative: Cirque Alfonse, FLIP Fabrique, Patin libre and Les Parfaits Inconnus.

Marchand said it was one of the festival's goals not just to "bring life to the city," but also to provide work for the artists.

She said many have been out of work and unable to perform or tour due to the pandemic and it's not clear when their industry will be back up and running.

If you are lucky enough to happen upon one of these surprise performances, the festival is asking people to stay on their front steps and balconies to avoid getting too close to others.

The festival will also be releasing a series of eight short videos which feature circus artists performing on St-Denis Street.

The videos, filmed over the last few weeks, will be available for streaming on select TV stations and on social media.


Marilla Steuter-Martin has been a journalist with CBC Montreal since 2015.

With files from CBC's Let's Go


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