October 19, 2012 – Big fluffy snowflakes softly fall, tickling the noses of laughing children as the holidays blanket the city with warmth. That’s the spirit of Montréal at this time of year.
Old Montréal, with its narrow, cobblestone streets and historic buildings, is an especially nostalgic quarter in which to enjoy the delights of the season. This year, Old Montréal’s Extravaganza offers a variety of activities that include: the Choralies concerts; the Around the Fireplace exhibition at the Château Ramezay; the A Victorian Christmas– Holiday Magic! exhibition at the Sir George-Étienne Cartier National Historic Site; the Who Is the Real Santa Claus? tour at the Pointe-à-Callière Museum; and the TELUS Fire on Ice musical fireworks presentation that takes spectators to a pyrotechnic universe of magical shapes and colours.
Choral and chamber music emanate from nearly every church and concert hall in the city. The Christmas concert with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal invites crowds to chime in at Notre-Dame Basilica, and a perennial favourite, The Nutcracker, from Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, dances onto the stage at Place des Arts. Meanwhile, the talented choristers of Les Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal boys’ choir perform mass at Saint Joseph’s Oratory, where an exquisite array of nativity scenes from over 100 countries is on display.
Christmas shopping in Montréal is a treat in itself amidst a city dressed in holiday style. McGill College Avenue, for example, is adorned with strings of lights that lead down to the giant, beaming Christmas tree at Place Ville Marie, while the Ogilvy store on Sainte-Catherine Street invites passers-by to appreciate its over 50-year-old window display of busy animals in a fairytale village. The city’s public markets are also humming, with cooks stocking their supplies for the special occasion and patrons in search of Yule logs, fruitcakes, tree ornaments, and other goods for le temps des Fêtes. Restaurants supply hungry consumers with seasonal dishes that grand-maman once made, and the Underground Pedestrian Network bustles with shoppers seeking the perfect gifts. And if that weren’t enough, at the Salon des métiers d’art, over 450 artisans from the Québec contemporary arts and crafts scene offer traditional items and one-of-a-kind pieces for travelers to take home.