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Posts by Jamie O'Meara

10 things under 10 minutes from Saint-Laurent metro station

Saint-Laurent metro station, on the green line, spills out onto Saint-Laurent  Boulevard – known affectionately to Montréalers as “The Main” – and into the historic red-light district, now reborn as part of the downtown Quartier des spectacles, a year-round hive of arts, culture and entertainment activity. One-of-a-kind, character-filled performance venues, bars, restaurants and shops are a staple of this lively and dynamic part of the city. To help you get to know the neighbourhood, here are 10 unique and popular spots within 10 minutes walking distance of Saint-Laurent metro station. The Must: Quartier des spectacles Walking time: Between 2 and 9 minutes, depending on the venue Visitors to the roughly one-square-kilometre downtown Quartier des spectacles may notice the red-lit sidewalks in front of many of the 80-plus cultural venues located within this district, a nod to the area’s colourful history. In the present, the Quartier des spectacles is home to classy and classic state-of-the-art venues like Monument National, Théâtre du Nouveau Monde, Metropolis, Club Soda and, the crown jewels of soft-seater theatres, the centrally located Place des Arts complex. The Underground Experience: Les Foufounes Électriques Walking time: 4 minutes Foufounes Électriques (which translated means, yup, “electric buttocks”) is Montréal’s – and arguably… / Read More →

Your August guide to Montréal summer music festivals

Osheaga Music and Arts Festival (July 31 to Aug. 2), which has been winning hearts and minds for exactly 10 years this year. Osheaga offers an incomparable outdoor festival experience that takes place in the aforementioned awesomeness of Parc Jean-Drapeau. This year’s special 10th anniversary edition promises the best in rock, pop, indie, hip-hop and more, courtesy of headliners like Florence and the Machine, Weezer and Kendrick Lamar. Having so much fun you can’t bring yourself to leave Parc Jean-Drapeau? Then don’t. Six anticipation-laden days later, Heavy Montréal blasts big chunks of hard rock, Aug. 7-9. Death metal, hair metal, black metal, hard rock and hardcore are all on the agenda, and this year’s line-up is sick with the likes of Slipknot, Faith No More, Korn, Iggy Pop and NOFX, to name a few. If the winter blues bring you down, the summer blues have been known to have quite the opposite effect at Festiblues International de Montréal, Aug. 6-9. Taking place in the rolling and tree-lined Parc Ahuntsic, the fest (which turns a very grown-up 18 this year) attracts thousands upon thousands for top-flight blues from more than 50 national and international artists. Then it’s back to Île Ste-Hélène where Parc Jean-Drapeau is again… / Read More →

Your survival guide to Jackalope, Montréal’s urban action sports fest

When we talk about surviving a Jackalope, we’re not talking about surviving the fearsome half-jackrabbit, half-antelope creature of lore. Rather, we’re talking about wringing maximum satisfaction out of the fourth edition of Montréal’s unique urban action sports festival Jackalope, which takes place July 17-19 on the outdoor Esplanade of the Olympic Stadium. Let this be your guide to getting in on the action. What to expect at Jackalope: Thousands and thousands of adrenaline junkies and urban action sports enthusiasts gathering for three days of high-level competitions, demonstrations and participation in an eclectic range of sports disciplines including skateboarding, wakeskating, motocross, slacklining, highlining, rock climbing, a fixed-gear bike race and more. Enhancing the experience are over 40 pop-up shops and food trucks, DJs and, of course, the after-parties. Where you’re going: From a sports, architectural and entertainment perspective, you’re going to one of the coolest places on the island of Montréal. The Olympic Park, built for the 1976 Montréal Summer Olympics, is the site of the city’s one-of-a-kind Olympic Stadium, formerly the home of the Montréal Expos, and the winter domicile of the city’s professional soccer team, the Montréal Impact. While there bus lanes that connect to the east Montréal Olympic Stadium, the easiest,… / Read More →

Plan an Adrenalin Weekend with the Jackalope Action Sports Fest and More

Welcome to the jungle. The urban jungle that is, where many of Montréal’s wilder denizens are prepping for an “Adrenalin Weekend” that includes an action sports festival, Old Port ziplining, a massive weekly outdoor dance party and, of course, fun food for energizing your good times. The fourth edition of Jackalope, an urban action sports fest taking place July 17-19 on the vast outdoor Esplanade of the Olympic Stadium, is a call to action unlike any other in Montréal. Not only are professional urban athletes drawn to intense, high-level competition in an eclectic range of sports disciplines – skateboarding, wakeskating, motocross, slacklining, highlining, and now rock climbing and more – but audience members are encouraged to engage at a number of different participatory events as well. As a sanctioned World Cup Skateboarding (WCS) event – the only one in Canada – with a $10,000 prize purse, Jackalope is expecting to draw top men and women skateboarders from approximately 10 countries. The event consists of a Friday practice session, Saturday qualifying round and finals on Sunday. The victor will be the skater with the best trick session on a custom street course. But Jackalope is way more than just decks. There are also freestyle… / Read More →

Montréal gets five very special rings for Canada Olympic Excellence Day

Move over Five Roses, there are five rings that are about to take an even more prominent spot on Montréal’s skyline. On Canada Olympic Excellence Day, July 9, the Olympic rings will be raised for permanent display above the downtown Montréal HQ of the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC). The raising of the rings also heralds the opening of the new and dynamic Canadian Olympic House in the same building, and they’ll be hard for Montréalers to miss. “The rings will be placed in two locations on the roof,” explains Canadian Olympic Committee president Marcel Aubut. “The ones in front, above the main entrance, will be 36 feet by 16 feet, 7 inches. A second 24- by 11-feet symbol will be installed at the back. They will be permanently illuminated, so they will be visible day and night from many places in the city, including the Jacques-Cartier Bridge, Mount Royal, from many skyscrapers, from planes, etc. In other words, the Montréal skyline will change forever.” And there’s an extra layer of significance to the rings being raised above the COC and Canadian Olympic House at 500 René-Lévesque West: It’s the only building outside of Lausanne, Switzerland permitted to display the Olympic… / Read More →

Your July guide to Montréal summer music festivals

As July approaches, Montréal continues to be flooded with an almost overwhelming array of musical options. So you don’t miss out on any of the excitement this month, here’s your July guide to Montréal summer music festivals! The Montréal International Jazz Festival, from June 26 to July 5, needs little introduction, but heck, we’ll do it anyway: the planet’s greatest, grandest jazz fest turns 36 this year with hundreds of concerts representing numerous genres including some 300 free outdoor shows that inundate downtown Montréal with a flood of music-loving merriment. From moving music to moving to the music, the International Percussion Festival turns 14 down in Old Montréal and the Old Port from July 3-12. A participative event (spectators are encouraged to get in on the playing and dancing action), the festival is also multidisciplinary, uniting music, dance, visual arts, film, food, workshops and conferences in the company of over 500 artists. The summer heat will begin to peak with Montréal’s vibrant and lively Nuits D’Afrique world music festival, July 7-19. Boasting the best of African and African-influenced music from some of the biggest names in the game at numerous indoor and free outdoor shows, Nuits D’Afrique is a guaranteed… / Read More →

Your 2015 Montréal Jazz Fest Survival Guide

Your survival is important to us. Not surviving means not getting maximum enjoyment out of your visit to the Montréal International Jazz Festival’s 36th edition, and nobody wants that. To this end, we’ve devised a Jazz Festival Survival Guide that will eliminate, we hope, any uncertainties while breathing even more life into your festival experience. EVENT Montréal International Jazz Festival, June 26 to July 5, 2015 WHAT YOU’RE GETTING INTO In a nutshell, more amazing music and fabulous fun than should be legally allowed. From June 26 to July 5, Montréal’s downtown Quartier des spectacles hosts the largest Jazz Festival in the world. Get ready for 10 eye-widening and ear-pleasing days of ticketed indoor concerts – which this year features can’t miss blue-chip artists such as the Steve Miller Band, Erykah Badu, the Wayne Shorter Quartet, Huey Lewis and The News, and Dee Dee Bridgewater among many others – and approximately 350 free outdoor shows and activities that draw around 2 million visitors every year. Don’t be surprised if, when you go to enter the festival site, someone asks to look in your bag. This is for your safety and that of others to ensure that nothing dangerous or disallowed makes… / Read More →

Nine must-see shows at the Montréal International Jazz Festival

A comprehensive list of this year’s can’t-miss concerts at the Montréal International Jazz Festival could put some heavy mileage on the eyes. For the sake of your continued good vision, dear reader, we’ve shortened that to a very manageable 9 essential shows, a number of which are among the 350 free concerts and activities on offer from June 26 to July 5. In chronological order… Steve Miller Band (June 26) With quintessentially ’70s, classic rock songs such as Fly Like an Eagle, Take the Money and Run and Rock’n Me, the Steve Miller Band will time warp fans to another era. And with 15 albums under its belt, the hits will keep coming Floyd Mayweather style. (Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier) Beirut (June 26) World-travelling, indie-folk rockers Beirut (Eastern European influences meet French pop with sojourns in Mexico and other warm locales) will open their latest tour with this outdoor Jazz Festival appearance, which will tease the September release of the new album No No No. (TD Stage – FREE) Erykah Badu (June 29) In a festival first, the Queen of Neo-Soul herself will be building a monument to jazzy R&B in Salle Wilfred-Pelletier where her lucky subjects may be afforded an opportunity… / Read More →

Mr. Soccer, Francis Millien, talks FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada

They call him Mr. Soccer, and for very good reason. Francis Millien has had a hand – or perhaps a foot, rather – in the promotion of soccer in Montréal and Québec at virtually every level for over 30 years. As Venue General Manager at Montréal’s Olympic Stadium for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015 (taking place in Edmonton, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Moncton and Montréal from June 6 to July 5), Millien once again finds himself in service of the beautiful game. An assistant coach for the Montréal’s professional soccer team, the Montréal Impact, for five years, Millien played an active role in the organization of the U20 2014 and the U20 FIFA World Cup in 2007. A member of Montréal’s Comité Excellence Sportive since 2011 (responsible for supporting high performance sport in Montréal and showcasing the city’s sport scene), Millien’s duties at the FIFA Women’s World Cup also relate to upholding standards of excellence. “[My job] is to make sure that everything is prepared in good order and that everything follows the rules and criteria of FIFA ,” Millien explains. “There are very strict regulations we have to follow to make sure that the best service is given… / Read More →

Your June guide to Montréal summer music festivals

When it comes to edgy, it doesn’t get more musically adventurous than the annual three-week Suoni Per Il Popolo festival, June 4-22. The now 15-year-old brainchild (brainteen?) of the founders of leading indie music scene venues Casa del Popolo and Sala Rossa, Suoni Per Il Popolo presents approximately 50 concerts featuring an eclectic range of experimental and avant-garde music and sound (think free jazz, musique actuelle, avant-rock, noise, etc.) that pushes boundaries into places where no boundaries should ever be. Operating under the very a propos motto “It’s classical… it’s cool,” the Montreal Chamber Music Festival (June 6-21) turns a very respectable 20 years old this year. From humble beginnings (the first concert, in 1995, was performed in the chalet atop Mount Royal) the much-expanded fest featuring several differently themed series now occupies many of the top concert halls in the city, including Place des Arts. When the Montreal Folk Festival on the Canal was born in 2008, it was a one-day event that drew approximately 500 folk faithful. The event was such a hit, with its picturesque park placement alongside Montréal’s historic Lachine Canal, that it now draws close to 10,000 for five days of folk, roots and bluegrass featuring both emerging artists and folk royalty. This year’s fest takes… / Read More →