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Grand Prix festivities ‘good way to kick off summer’ in Montreal

Click to play video: 'Start your engines: Montreal’s F1 festivities kick off on Crescent Street'
Start your engines: Montreal’s F1 festivities kick off on Crescent Street
WATCH: Racing fans from around the world have taken over parts of downtown Montreal, as the city revs up for the Canadian Grand Prix Weekend. Many of them raced over to Crescent Street bright and early Thursday, for some pre-F1 action and excitement. Global's Felicia Parrillo reports – Jun 6, 2024

Racing fans from all over the world have taken over parts of downtown Montreal as one of the country’s largest sporting events gets underway.

The Canadian Grand Prix brings in tens of thousands spectators for the annual three-day affair, with celebrations continuing off the racetrack in the evenings. Hotels, restaurants and even stores fill up with fans who flock to the city for the big races and festivities.

Father and son Eddy and Alex Nunez came in from New York. As F1 enthusiasts, they have also been to Italy. They arrived in Montreal before the kickoff and they decided to check out the celebrations on Crescent Street.

“It’s a pretty cool city,” Alex Nunez said Thursday, adding they also walked around Old Montreal earlier in the day.

The Grand Prix doesn’t just draw tourists. Montrealer Max Makovka has been lucky enough to check out some of the past races. This year, he was just excited to stop by the festival downtown to meet other fans.

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“It’s more just seeing everyone come together,” Makova said. “It’s a very cool event.”

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc poses for a photo with a fan at the Canadian Grand Prix Thursday, June 6, 2024 in Montreal. Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

The action-packed weekend is “definitely a good way to kick off the summer,” he added.

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“I’m personally a very big Formula One fan,” Makovka said. “So walking around seeing everyone wearing their shirts, the hats — it’s just a big thing for me to see other people share the sport that I love.”

Crescent Street Grand Prix Festival spokesperson Karine Delage said there the off-site event is good for people of all ages. For the weekend, the street turns into a venue with a variety of frees activities and booths. There will also be bands and celebrities on hand, Delage said.

“It’s great for the city because whenever the money comes in, that just makes Montreal flourish,” she said.

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‘Christmas in June’ for businesses

Grand Prix isn’t just a great weekend for F1 fans, it’s also a huge help to businesses in downtown Montreal.

Glenn Castanheira, executive director of Montréal Centre-Ville, described it as “literally Christmas in June” for merchants.

“And it makes all of the difference for a lot of the restaurants, hotels and retailers,” he said. “Allowing them to withstand the challenges they face the rest of the year, whether it be construction, weather or protests.”

City officials say the Grand Prix brought about 100,000 people per day to circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 2023.

Click to play video: 'Grand Prix kickoff from Crescent Street'
Grand Prix kickoff from Crescent Street

Montreal’s mayor says on top of the boost the event brings to the downtown core, it also has a positive impact on other neighbourhoods.

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“People are also interested in going to other boroughs, like Verdun, Mont-Royal, NDG, Côte-des-Neiges,” Valérie Plante said. “People want to visit Montreal because there’s stuff happening also in other boroughs.”

with files from Global’s Brayden Jagger Haines

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