Tam Tams, also occasionally known as the "The Bongos" or "Bongo Park," is a cultural phenomenon which is, as far as I know, unique to Montreal. Every Sunday (well, every Sunday between April and October, this being Canada
), hundreds if not thousands of Montrealers gather at the statute of George-Etienne Cartier
(at the base of Mount Royal
), centred around a drum circle
which congregates on the base of the monument. The drummers include both professional musicians and guys who've lifted one of the popcorn tubs from the Bifteck
. I've never actually joined the circle myself, but anyone with any kind of instrument is welcome to. The plaza which extends out from the monument is filled with dancers; farther out, in the park proper, people chill, play frisbee, have picnics, and so on.
The truly amazing part of this gathering is the variety of people there: the husband and wife, both in their sixties, who flamenco for hours around the statue; the hippie capitalists selling incense, pipes, and anything tie-dyed; the McGill students drinking wine, playing hackey-sack, and ostensibly studying for the next day's classes; the homeless people who wander around asking for empty bottles to return; the people practising tai chi or capoeria. There are even those who meditate there, although IMO it's not really the best environment for this. I've spent many hours there lying in the sun and reading or playing in pickup games of Ultimate Frisbee. The police cruise through every once in a while, but they seem to be more concerned with making sure that there are no food vendors (made illegal, along with newspaper boxes, by Jean Drapeau) than with anything that anyone's drinking or smoking.
The party starts around 11 (well, okay, that's the earliest I ever get up on a Sunday; it may in fact start before then) and goes on until after sundown. If you want to go to it, which I highly suggest you do if possible, http://membres.lycos.fr/tamjam/english.html has a map of the park, as well as pictures of the gathering.
"The Tam Tams are drums of peace which resonate in unison every Sunday, at the foot of mount Royal"-Pierre Desrosiers