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Posts by Jamie O'Meara

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: one night’s stay in one… / Read More →

MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE leaves the lights on even longer this year

The autumn leaves are barely off the trees, the first flurries have so far only teased, but winter festival MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE is already planning a “blizzard” of arts and entertainment. Their freshly announced programming includes surprises in every corner of performance – music, theatre, dance, circus and more – and some welcome news for those who can’t get enough of Montréal’s cold-weather fun fest. MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE, which annually attracts some 1,300,000 visitors, is already one of the largest winter festivals in the world, and now it will be one of the longest. The 2016 edition jumps from 11 to 17 days, February 18 to March 5, in order for families to take full advantage of the midwinter school break. Also new, as it is every year, is the festival’s featured country or city, and this year MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE will celebrate Shenzhen, China. One of the world’s most rapidly developing urban centers, Shenzhen (population 10 million) is a UNESCO City of Design and a major arts and culture hub, making it a fascinating ambassador for the many Chinese-themed events at the festival. First among these is the Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra – presenting Chinese and European classical works celebrating… / Read More →

M for Montreal 2015

M for memory making, for motivating and, oftentimes, for magic. But more than that, M for Montreal stands for M for amazing music. This year the tastemaking music festival and conference, which aims to assist up-and-coming artists not just at a local level, but internationally as well, is pulling out the stops for its 10th anniversary edition. For four days and nights, November 18-21, well over 100 local and international acts will be showcasing in more than 20 venues around Montréal in tandem with numerous conferences and networking opportunities with recognized music industry heavy hitters. Panels and workshops with specially selected delegates from around the world are a key feature of M for Montreal which, like the city it calls home, aims to strike that perfect work/play balance. “It’s really special for us to see many of the international delegates and media experience Montréal for the first time,” says M for Montreal programming director Mikey Rishwain. “And we try to build on that by making magic happen between business and pleasure.” The wizardry this year includes a markedly increased focus on electronic and hip-hop music. This is in addition to, of course, the usual onslaught of leading edge, mostly made-in-Montréal… / Read More →

Meet a Montrealer: P.K. Subban

At only 26 years of age, Montréal Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban has already taken his place amongst the most beloved hockey players ever to wear the Habs jersey. Recently, he endeared himself even more deeply to his fellow Montrealers with a $10 million pledge to the Montréal Children’s Hospital. We caught up with the colourful and charismatic Subban at the launch of his new website, at newly opened upscale nightclub École Privée, the day after the Habs set a franchise record by going unbeaten in the opening five games of the season, the first time in club history. Not everyone is as comfortable with celebrity as you are. Why is it important to break down the barrier that celebrity creates and, as you say you want to do with your website, connect with fans? “Because I know that, as a kid growing up, if I had had the opportunity to connect with someone who I looked up to in professional sports, I hope that they would have given me the time or given me some way of connecting with them. Everything I do, I always put myself in the fan’s shoes and what they would expect and what they would… / Read More →

Your 2015 Halloween guide to ghoulish good times in Montréal

Montréal is a ghost town. No, really. Spectres and spooks, shades and wraiths: whatever your flavour of phantom, Montréal comes alive in the spirit of the dead when it comes to Halloween. Indeed, there’s no shortage of Halloween hijinks in Montréal again this year, so let the following be your guide to the many tricks and treats being offered. For the little monsters The 30th edition of The Great Pumpkin Ball, at Montreal’s Space for Life (comprised of the Biodôme, Insectarium, Botanical Gardens and Planetarium, which are hosting many Halloween-themed events), is in full celebratory swing at the Botanical Gardens. Esmeralda the witch watches over the 800-plus decorated pumpkins, and invites curious munchkins to check out her giant new hat house and other activities. The Great Pumpkin Ball takes place daily, 9 am to 9 pm, until November 1. The most frightening real-life vampires for many, spiders are also among the most fascinating. Fearsome and amazingly diverse hunters, the Insectarium will be putting the spotlight on these incredible creatures this Halloween season as part of a daily guided activity, until November 1. Partake in pumpkin treats with all the animals of the Biodôme. Visitors are invited to see how mammals,… / Read More →

Meet a Montrealer: Anne-Marie Withenshaw

One of the most recognizable names on the Montréal media landscape, popular television and radio host Anne-Marie Withenshaw has long been an unofficial ambassador for the city’s thriving arts and cultural scenes. No longer: Withenshaw is official now as the 2015 ambassador for the annual MTL à TABLE restaurant event, 11 days of gourmet festivities and culinary discovery at 159 restos across Montréal, October 29 to November 8. Like Withenshaw doesn’t have enough on her plate(s), she also co-hosts TV show À couteaux tirés with world-renowned Montréal chef Chuck Hughes. It pits two top-shelf Québécois chefs against each other in a friendly, albeit crazy and unpredictable, competition each week. The program airs on CASA TV every Monday (5:30 pm), Thursday (9:30 pm) and Saturday (12:30 and 6 pm). We caught up with the food- and life-loving Withenshaw in between shooting. What’s the coolest, most interesting thing you’ve done so far this year? “I guess probably raise a toddler. It’s funny, my life has really changed a lot since I had a kid. Maybe four or five weeks before I got pregnant I was on tour with Rihanna. I did five cities in five days for [Montréal radio station] The Beat…… / Read More →

Montréal’s healthy appetite for the Alouettes

Pro football in Montréal, both on and off the field, is typically far from boring. This year is no exception for the city’s Canadian Football League (CFL) franchise, the Montréal Alouettes, as the team hits the halfway point of the regular season and readies for a drive sure to satisfy football-hungry (and hungry football) fans. While the Als may be down in the overall CFL standings at the moment, the beauty of the Canadian game is that rebounding teams can remain in contention, so look for the Als to deliver on the promise of an exciting second half to the season. And the fun won’t just be on the field. In 2015, much of the focus off-field has been on the fans, with a number of new events and activities designed with the overall game-day experience in mind. Starting with stomachs. Football? Foodball! While home field Percival-Molson Stadium, nestled into the side of Mount Royal, provides for a dramatic setting complete with scenic views of the city, it doesn’t lend itself well to traditional NFL-style tailgate parties for the simple reason that there are no sprawling concrete lots in which to park your pickup. A good thing. It’s inspired a… / Read More →

10 great places to see indie bands in Montréal

Internationally acclaimed, Montréal indie music artists like Arcade Fire, Grimes, Patrick Watson, The Dears, Wolf Parade, Plants and Animals, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Half Moon Run, for example, all had to start out somewhere. And fortunately for bands and fans alike, Montréal has a veritable treasure of venues catering to the city’s thriving independent music scene. The following are, in no particular order, 10 of the great places to see indie bands in Montréal. La Sala Rossa (4848 St. Laurent Blvd.) With its Spanish-community-hall-meets-high-school-prom-type vibe, Sala Rossa is without a doubt unique. And also without a doubt one of the best, and most beloved, indie venues in the city. The high stage affords good sightlines, the back bar keeps the focus on the action up front and anyone of note in Montréal’s music scene will have graced its stage at least once. Casa Del Popolo (4873 St. Laurent Blvd.) Directly across the street from sister venue Sala Rossa, Casa Del Popolo (founded by Godspeed You! Black Emperor bassist Mauro Pezzente and wife Kiva Stimac) was where Arcade Fire first started drafting their army of fans. A cozy café/bar side complements the always-busy showroom, and the leafy rear terrasse is… / Read More →

Montréal Canadiens 2015-16: By the numbers

The unbridled pride and unconditional love for Montréal’s professional hockey team, the Montréal Canadiens (known affectionately to fans as the “Habs”) is deeply woven into the fabric of the city. And with the 2015-16 National Hockey League (NHL) season set to kick off on October 7, Montréalers will once again be wearing their hopes for the Habs on their tightly knit sleeves. So let’s look at the Habs, and the city they call home, by the numbers. 24 The number of championship Stanley Cups the most storied team in the NHL have to their credit. ’Nuff said. 21,273 The number of hockey-crazy fans for each home game at the Bell Centre, which boasts the most electric atmosphere in the NHL courtesy of one of its most exciting teams. 10 Years of consecutive sold-out home games since the Canadiens moved to the Bell Centre from the former epicentre of Habs hockey awesomeness in the city, the Montréal Forum. The Montréal Forum is now an imaginatively repurposed entertainment, business and resto complex that pays innovative tribute to its former self. 41 Regular season home games that make Montréal vibrate for six months from October until April. It’s not uncommon to see players… / Read More →

KidCon: A fun first for Montréal families

FanCons and the like can be scary (and not just because of all of the presumably fully grown adults pretending to be their favourite comic book, gaming or sci-fi movie/TV character). No one knows that better than the organizers of the inaugural edition of new Montréal convention event, KidCon. “We’ve done a lot of work in the world of FanCons,” says David Newman, president of Crabapple Events, who are producing KidCon. “People would come to them and bring their kids. But as an organizer, people would approach me and say, ‘You know, we’re having a great time but there’s stuff here that’s not really appropriate for our children,’ like comics with violent scenes or sexual content, or bloody costumes… So it inspired me to create something that was, instead of an adult event where you bring the kids, a kid event where you bring the adults.” FanCon becomes FunCon at this ambitious, activity-filled and G-rated endeavour, which takes place at Montréal’s Uniprix Stadium Sept. 26 and 27. Geared to the 3-to-12 crowd, KidCon features a special screening of the Frozen Sing-Along Edition movie, live performances courtesy of characters from popular kids TV shows and Star Wars, video and board games… / Read More →