Montreal comes alive to the sounds of Festival Nuits d’Afrique from July 11 to 23

Over 700 artists from more than 30 countries will play on two outdoor stages and six indoor venues for the festival’s 37th edition.

From July 11 to 23, the Festival Nuits d’Afrique will be celebrating its 37th year of bringing the best talent from across Africa — as well as the Caribbean, Latin America and some of our best local talent representing the diaspora— to various Montreal venues.

Across nearly two weeks, music lovers have the chance to see artists from more than 30 countries on two outdoor stages around Place des Arts, as well as six indoor venues downtown and in the Plateau/Mile End (notably at Club Balattou on St-Laurent). Eight concert series (including Prestige, Global Beat, Révélations and Grands Évènements) will be happening across those dates, with different acts placed under each umbrella. Some free shows will go down July 18 to 23 across the two outdoor stages around the Quartier des spectacles downtown.

Here are some of the more notable acts playing this year’s edition, and why they’re worth checking out even if you’re not well-versed in these styles of music.

Angelique Kidjo

Nuits d’Afrique couldn’t have possibly booked a more fitting artist for their opening indoor show, could they? For many festival-goers, this legendary Beninese-French songstress needs no introduction. A longtime ambassador not only for African music but the continent itself, expect Kidjo’s live show to be nothing short of spectacular.

July 12, MTELUS, 8:30 p.m., $48 (Les Grands Événements Series)

Blick Bassy

Having gotten his start in a jazz fusion band, this Cameroonian singer performs in his mother tongue of Bassa. Blending his home country’s music and rhythms with soul, gospel, and some alternative and indie thrown in as well (he can play guitar and banjo), he’ll be bringing his innovative style to Montreal off the back of his new album, Mádibá.

July 13, Fairmount Theatre, 9 p.m., $30 (Les Grands Événements Series)


Hailing from the volcanic Southeast African islands of Comoros, Eliasse plays a style of rock music known as Zangoma, complete with lyrics in four languages. Finding a place in the middle between rock from Western countries and his homeland, Eliasse’s music is equal parts groovy, bluesy and rhythmic — in other words, perfect for a venue like Club Balattou.

July 13, Club Balattou, 8:30 p.m., $25 (Les Révélations Series)

Kaleta & Super Yamba Band

This New York-based seven-piece band takes much of its influence from Nigerian and Beninese music and culture, with the latter country being the home of frontman Kaleta (real name Leon Ligan-Majek). Deftly mixing Afro-funk with psychedelia, there’s a reason the likes of Lauryn Hill, Fela Kuti and Adult Swim have taken notice over the years.

July 15, Club Balattou, 8:30 p.m., $25 (Global Beat Series)

Sophie Lukacs

Learning a 21-stringed instrument sounds daunting, but Sophie Lukacs has turned it into a whole career. This Hungarian-born Montréalaise singer-songwriter is a highly-skilled kora player, and is known as one of the only women on earth to play the instrument — one she learned from kora legend Toumani Diabaté while she studied in Mali.

July 19, Club Balattou, 8:30 p.m., $15 + fees (Les Révélations Series)

Montreal comes alive to the sounds of Festival Nuits d’Afrique July 11 to 23


Cult MTL readers may recognize Waahli not only from the feature we published on him last fall, but also from his role in the veteran Montreal hip hop collective Nomadic Massive. Still riding high off his 2022 release Soap Box, his eclectic, Haitian-based take on hip hop and Afrobeat makes a delicious backdrop to his lyricism — whether in English, French and/or Creole.

July 18, TD-Radio-Canada Stage (Parterre du Quartier des spectacles), 6 p.m., free (Les Révélations Series)

Yemi Alade

She’s known as the Queen of Afro-Pop (as well as Mama Africa, for her use of various African languages in her music), and this Nigerian songstress has earned that crown and then some. Yemi Alade also goes from a sold-out MTELUS show last fall to playing a free outdoor concert this month, bringing her fiery take on Afrobeat to a bigger Montreal audience. A baddie, indeed.

July 19, TD-Radio-Canada Stage (Parterre du Quartier des spectacles), free, 9:30 p.m. (Les Grands Événements Series)

Rebecca Jean

Bringing some local Haitian flavour — Haïbécoise, in her words — to the proceedings is Rebecca Jean, who continues to ride off her 2022 album Antidote (her sixth to date). The Montreal-born songstress mixes Quebec-specific influences with genres of Haitian origin like Compas, while singing in both French and Creole with equal skill in lyricism and storytelling.

July 20, Club Balattou, 8:30 p.m., $20 (Voix du Monde Series)

Meiway and Le Zo Gang

He closed the 2016 edition of Nuits d’Afrique in style, and he’s coming back to do it all over again. Freddy Meiway is a pioneer of the genre Zoblazo, invented in his native Côte d’Ivoire during the ‘90s. Come ready to wave your white handkerchiefs in the air and enjoy a high-energy show especially fitting for outdoor environments.

July 23, TD-Radio-Canada Stage (Parterre du Quartier des spectacles), 9:30 p.m., free (Les Grands Événements Series)

For more on the 2023 edition of Festival Nuits d’Afrique, please visit their website.

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