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Posts by Jamie O'Meara

Your MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE Survival Guide

Cold weather festing hath no fury like the ever-strengthening MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE winter arts and culture festival, which brightens moods and sets downtown Montréal alight with excitement each and every year. A blizzard of entertainment and activities awaits visitors at both indoor and outdoor locales, so let this be your guide to navigating the storm. THE EVENT The 17th edition of the MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE winter arts and culture festival at various locations in downtown Montréal from February 18 to March 5, 2016. WHAT YOU’RE GETTING YOURSELF INTO Over the course of 17 days, MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE will enjoy some 1,300,000 visits from fearless fun seekers at what has become one of the largest winter festivals in the world. The annual happening hosts an expansive, eclectic and high-powered program of performing arts (live music, theatre, dance, circus arts and more) at many of the city’s best venues. There are also almost innumerable gastronomic options (some 500 chefs, wine producers and culinary experts have participated over the years) and a lively range of events and activities on the action-packed outdoor site that visitors can participate in. THE LAY OF THE LAND Where everything’s happening The almost 200 paid indoor performances and… / Read More →

Montréal’s Barbegazi Winter Action Sports Festival wants you to be part of the action

The term “participaction” has an extra element of promise when it comes to the fourth edition of Montréal’s Barbegazi Winter Action Sports Festival. The Barbegazi Festival (named for the gnome-like, European Alpine creatures of lore that took pleasure in, among other things, avalanche surfing) isn’t just a venue to cheer on wild winter sports action. It’s a place to be part of it. The all-ages Barbegazi Winter Action Sports Festival – which this year runs March 5-6 – again takes place against the dramatic backdrop of Montréal’s Olympic Stadium, on the Esplanade Financière Sun Life in the city’s continually reimagined, rejuvenated Olympic Park. Events include fatbike racing, snowskating (i.e., snowboarding and skiing on the Olympic Park’s railings and stairs), freestyle snowmobiling, obstacle course races, a hockey tournament and more. And important to note: admission to both days of Barbegazi is free. Past attendance has been in the 5,000 to 6,000 range, but the expectation for this year’s festival is different. “This year we’re expecting more like around 8,000 to 10,000,” says Barbegazi producer Micah Desforges. “We have a better programme and a lot more fun stuff to do.” Some of the programme changes include the lumberjack events, which have been… / Read More →

Your Spring Break guide to eating, drinking and partying, Montréal-style

Spring Break amazingness? You can have it all in Montréal. With its 3 a.m. closing hours, drinking age of 18 and hugely depreciated dollar (the whole city is basically a 30% off sale), Montréal is a win-win-win Spring Break party proposition. Let the following be your guide to doing it up right. Eats and pre-drinks There are those of us who would argue that the eating and pre-drinks portion of the evening is the most critical phase: not only are you laying a base for the remainder of the evening, you’re setting the tone. If you’re starting out on the Plateau Mont-Royal, imaginative hipster magnet and oyster/cocktail bar Le Majestique is all eye candy and killer cuisine. Fab fun food and drinks are also the raison d’être of L’Gros Luxe (Caesars topped with hamburgers, ’nuff said), and Big in Japan’s delectable small plate menu and vibrant vibe have also made it big in Montréal. If downtown, head to Sainte-Catherine Street West for Imadake, another Japanese small plate pub with a fun bordering on raucous atmosphere (which may have something to do with their signature “sake bombs”). Dominion Square Tavern is a must if only for the beautiful 1920s setting, though the… / Read More →

Montréal winter nights are bright with activity possibilities

Nighttime is always the right time for both family fun and slightly more adult-oriented activities and entertainment in Montréal during the winter season. Gliding on ice under night skies is a sublime pastime at the Old Port’s idyllic Bonsecours Basin skating rink, a huge open-air surface renowned for its exceptional ice. It features some of the most striking views of Old Montréal and the city skyline in an extremely fun-friendly environment. Each day has a different music theme: classical Mondays, world music Tuesdays, urban sounds Wednesdays, and so on. The ice is open Monday to Wednesday until 9 pm, and Thursday to Sunday until 10 pm. Skate rentals and lockers are available. Many of Montréal’s most beautiful parks also feature night skating along with music, warming stations and/or places to eat and, er, lubricate. The picturesque Parc Lafontaine, Parc Maisonneuve and Beaver Lake on the summit of Mount Royal are all examples of top-tier blading places that typically stay open on the weekends until 10 pm. For locations, skating conditions and other info, please go here. Speaking of the mountain, Mount Royal Park is an outdoor winter sports enthusiast’s dream. In addition to skating, sledding and cross-country skiing – there… / Read More →

Major must-not-miss Montréal concerts in 2016

Not even a month in, and 2016 is already shaping up to be an epic and potentially record-setting year for concerts in Montréal. Names like Bieber, Rihanna, Santana, Adele and Céline, to name a few, feature prominently among the slew of A-list pop, rock, metal and indie artists slated to visit the city’s premiere large-capacity entertainment venue, the Bell Centre (the second busiest amphitheatre in Canada). The following represent some of the biggest and best on deck at the Bell Centre in 2016: Black Sabbath, February 23 Why not begin with “The End”? England’s Black Sabbath gave birth to a variant of rock that would become one of the most resonant (in more ways than one) genres of music ever: heavy metal. Now with the aptly titled “The End: The Final Tour by the Greatest Metal Band of All Time,” Black Sabbath bids fans farewell with a tour that “promises to surpass all previous tours.” Death Cab for Cutie and Metric, March 19 Black horn-rimmed glasses alert! Indie rock royalty pass the crown around when Toronto’s Metric (touring their latest, Pagans in Vegas) share the stage with Bellingham, Washington’s Death Cab for Cutie (supporting new album KINTSUGI) for the co-headlining “Lights on… / Read More →

Igloofest gets even cooler for its 10th anniversary

When Mother Nature drops the temperature, Montrealers drop the bass. At one time unthinkable, Montréal’s Igloofest this year celebrates 10 years of drawing electronic music fans out of the clubs and into the frigid January cold to dance to many of the world’s top techno, house, bass, hip-hop, minimal, downtempo, funk and dub DJs. And these are, as partying goes, some of the hottest nights of the year. Over the course of four weekends – January 14-16, 21-23, 28-30 and February 4-6 – dance aficionados by the thousands will warm themselves to the sound of leading edge electro while immersed in Igloofest’s stunning multimedia environment. Impressive (and enormous) custom designed outdoor stages, vast video projection screens and sensational laser light displays are all part of the plan in a setting that’s equally spectacular in its own right: the Jacques-Cartier Quay in the picturesque Old Port of Montréal, backdropped by Old Montréal. As always, an expansive programme of top-tier local and international DJs working the entire spectrum of electronic music creation, from genre pioneers to new generation ground breakers, will be on hand to satisfy whatever the party heart desires. Among the dozens of sets to look out for are performances by UK legends… / Read More →

Ski Tour Canada World Cup race slides into Montréal for first time

Cross-country, indeed. The organizers of the 2016 edition of the world’s largest cross-country skiing event are taking full advantage of being in one of the world’s largest countries. While not quite sea-to-shining-sea, the 12-day Ski Tour Canada 2016 – FIS Cross-Country World Cup will span several thousand kilometres of the country, from the Rocky Mountains in Alberta to the ski hills of Quebec, including one hill in particular with a long history of skiing: Montréal’s Mount Royal. Skiing on Mount-Royal – at one time the home of alpine ski slopes, chair lifts and a top-flight ski jump – can be traced back to 1879, making it one of the oldest skiing sites in Canada. (And the mountain’s dozens of kilometres of skiing and snowshoeing trails, as well as skating and tobogganing, continue to make it a premiere destination for outdoor winter sports enthusiasts). So it’s only fitting that Ski Tour Canada 2016, the biggest cross-country ski event ever presented in Canada, will take place on a challenging course that traverses the summit of Mount-Royal, winding around prominent landmarks like Beaver Lake and Mount Royal Chalet with its spectacular vista on the city. Adding to the excitement, Ski Tour Canada 2016 –… / Read More →

Make your Montréal holiday stay happy – and affordable!

The holidays are about getting together with family and friends, sure. But sometimes sleeping on a lumpy hide-a-bed or a futon in a friend’s basement can put a kink in your holiday spirit – and your back. So if you’re not the couch-surfing type but you need to watch your budget, here are some affordable Sweet Deal offers (rooms under $150 and 50% off the second night) that will make your holiday visit to Montréal a little more merry. The tasteful and warmly appointed Hôtel Manoir Sherbrooke has everything going for it including the all-important, as they say, location, location, location. Situated on Sherbrooke Street a short walk to the popular restos, bars and shopping of major entertainment arteries St. Laurent Blvd. to the west and St. Denis Street to the east, the Manoir is also only a few blocks north of downtown and close to the Quartier des Spectacles. The classic, converted Victorian home comes with all the modern amenities and a complimentary continental breakfast is offered. If you want to live life like a Montrealer in one of its quintessentially Montréal neighbourhoods, the Plateau Mont-Royal, look no further than the Auberge de la Fontaine. Situated directly across the… / Read More →

Montréal offers a chorus of song for the holiday season

’Tis the season to have your ears sweep you off your feet as many of Montréal’s illustrious choirs and orchestras – offering spirited gospel, pop, classical, jazz and more – bring their holiday A-game to the city’s best venues in the coming weeks. The award-winning Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir – who closed the Montreal International Jazz Festival this year and have collaborated with artists like Ray Charles, Céline Dion and Barry White – are prepping for the 33rd instalment of their hugely popular Gospel Celebration Christmas Show. Roof-raising gospel songs and a selection of festive faves are all on tap for what is guaranteed to be an unforgettable celebration of song at Théâtre Maisonneuve, in Place des Arts, December 6. Hallelujah! The magnificent Saint Joseph’s Oratory – Canada’s largest church, situated on the western slope of Mount Royal – plays host to some 2 million visitors each year, many of whom eagerly anticipate the annual series of Christmas concerts. Again this year, on December 4 (8 pm) and 5 (2:30 and 8 pm), the Basilica of the Oratory will play host to ten renowned artists performing 22 holiday arias in the company of Oratory organist Vincent Boucher musical director/bassist Jacques Roy. It’s a Wainwright holiday… / Read More →

Your New Year’s Eve guide to getting a glow on in Montréal

New Year’s Eve in Montréal is both the joyful pinnacle of a year of citywide festive celebrations, and the auspicious beginning of yet another round of merrymaking (and honestly, especially on December 31, who’s going to turn down another round?). Let the following be your guide to lighting up your New Year’s Eve night in the city where fun is an ever-present friend. The Merry Montreal-organized outdoor New Year’s Party in Old Montréal’s Place Jacques-Cartier and the quays of the Old Port, now in its third year, will once again be by far and away the largest gathering of New Year’s revelers in the city. Last year more than 50,000 celebrants turned up for the free concerts, midnight countdown and massive fireworks display, as well as the almost all-night DJ dance party afterward (until 2 am). This year top-tier Québec performers – namely Coeur de Pirate, Dumas, Bernard Adamus and Yann Perreau – will entertain all in attendance. The free concert and party gets going at 7 pm. Speaking of Merry Montréal, Old Montréal’s classy and sassy Hôtel St. Paul is offering guests a special Merry Montréal package perfect for ringing in the New Year: two nights stay in one of… / Read More →