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Posts by Jamie O'Meara

Montréal creators connect at inspiring spring festivals

You could say that many hands will be making light work in Montréal in the coming months. It’s fitting that UNESCO has proclaimed 2015 the International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies because spring in Montréal is going to be so bright with possibility, you’re gonna wanna wear shades. Montréal is a world leader in creativity and connectivity, and the annual Chromatic festival is the embodiment of that assertion. Touting their 360-degree perspective on art, Chromatic has literally been to the mountaintop, and they’ll be going back again for their sixth instalment, May 22 to 27. The week-long celebration of Montréal imagination will once again take its place at the top of the town, in the classic stone-and-wood chalet at the summit of the city’s iconic Mount Royal. The scenic lookout will host a myriad range of arts – visual, digital, audio, performance, interactive, interdisciplinary and more – with a program that features over 150 artists and events, including concerts, exhibitions, screenings, workshops, parties and activities for all ages. Powered by Montréal’s respected MASSIVart collective, who specialize in event creation, production and design, the goal is once again to connect audiences with the artist. And new this year is a… / Read More →

Nuit Blanche: Montréal’s all-nighter lets your wild side be your guide

A wild night out might include a zip line or an ice slide. Or rock climbing, rock concerts or underground adventures. Maybe a veritable gourmet buffet, nighttime acrobatics or a dance club ski lodge and spa. But what about all of those things, and much more, on one single night? It would have to be, by anyone’s measure, the wildest night of the year. Welcome to Montréal’s Nuit Blanche. Starting on Saturday, February 28 and wrapping up pretty much whenever you want it to wrap up in the morning hours of Sunday, March 1, this 12th edition of Montréal’s “white night” is practically incandescent with activities. Nuit Blanche puts an exclamation point on the city’s MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE winter festival, closing out the annual extravaganza with an all-night citywide party. Some 211 separate activities – 178 of which are absolutely free – will be spread out across three city districts: Old Montréal, most of downtown and the Plateau/Mile End. And don’t worry your head about transportation. Montréal’s metro system will be open all night long, and a free shuttle service (4 routes and 65 stops) connecting the aforementioned districts will run every 10 minutes from 8 pm to 3 am. But more importantly, the fun stuff. Montréal… / Read More →

Activities for all ages during Spring Break in Montréal

“Spring Break” is a misnomer – it should be called “Spring Blast.” Whether you call it Spring Break, March Break or as we say in French, “la semaine de relâche,” the weeks ending February and beginning March in Montréal are exploding with entertainment and events tailored to the kids and the kid in you. It begins with the end of massive winter arts and culture festival MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE (February 19 to March 1), which takes place in the Quartier des Spectacles in downtown Montréal. The festival presents an action-packed program of performing arts, culinary creations and a dynamic range of outdoor activities. The free and family-friendly outdoor site is alive with interactive installations, dining areas, a Ferris wheel, ice slides (one each for adults and the little ones) and, new this year, zip lines that run the length of the festival site. MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE concludes with the epic Nuit Blanche all-nighter on February 28, which consists of more than 200 (mostly free) activities including live music, film, performance art, interactive installations and visual arts. Nuit Blanche takes over three districts of aboveground Montréal (served by shuttles) as well as underground Montréal. In fact, the city’s renowned “Underground City”… / Read More →

A self-guided tour for the Montréal Canadiens faithful

Hockey in Montréal is, in a word, sacred. It’s an almost religious fervour that the Montréal Canadiens’ fans reserve for their beloved Habs, short for “Les Habitants.” Indeed, what other team has had a “Saint-Patrick” (Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy) or a “Sainte-Flanelle” (referring to the team’s “holy” jersey)? So it is that hockey is deeply enmeshed in both the identity and history of Montréal, and for fans of Les Canadiens and hockey generally, the city offers unique opportunities for the faithful to undertake a pilgrimage of sorts. Time is always of the essence, and if you only have a weekend to explore Habs lore, the following two-day self-guided tour offers a chance to check out the team’s living history while hooking up with a few of the ghosts as well. Day 1: It’s only fitting that one would start at the epicentre of Habs hockey history for 70 years (1926-1996), the Montréal Forum, on the western edge of downtown at the corner of Atwater and Sainte-Catherine streets. Once referred to as “the most storied building in hockey history,” where some two dozen Stanley Cups were won, the original building is now an imaginatively re-purposed entertainment and resto complex that pays grand tribute… / Read More →

The Top 10 must-see major concerts of 2015 in Montréal (so far)

Here is a “top 10” list of must-see concerts – from pop to rock to jazz and metal – that are set to make 2015 one of the most memorable years in Montréal music history. Montréal has always had a special relationship with radio rockers Fleetwood Mac, a mutual love affair that spans four decades, beginning with the release of 1975’s self-titled, multimillion-selling breakthrough LP, Fleetwood Mac. Now the band is on tour again, and this time with all five members of that hit-making 1975 lineup, including singer/keyboardist Christine McVie, who completes the Mac attack after a 16-year absence. The “On with the Show Tour” pulls into the Bell Centre on February 5. Love ’em or hate ’em (or love them and hate them, depending on the day), multiplatinum rockers Nickelback are firing up their massive rock’n’rollercoaster of a tour machine and will be heading out in support of their eighth studio album, No Fixed Address. The 61-city tour will touch down in Montréal at the Bell Centre on February 18. And there’s even more Canadian rock royalty on deck when the pride of Kingston, Ontario, pay tribute to their Diamond-selling (that’s a million) 1992 release, Fully Completely. The Tragically Hip are… / Read More →

Meet a Montrealer: Laurent Saulnier

Laurent Saulnier is arguably one of Montréal’s most powerful musical tastemakers. It’s a notion that would doubtless make the amiable and unassuming Vice-President of Programming and Production for three of the city’s largest festivals – MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE, the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal and Les FrancoFolies – erupt in a fit of his signature laughter. Saulnier began working for the festivals 15 years ago after sharpening his skills as a music connoisseur at French-language alt-weekly Voir where he was music editor. Now Saulnier applies those same discerning tastes to the selection of the hundreds of artists of all genres who perform at the festivals’ indoor and outdoor stages. He is, in short, the VP of your good time. Job: Vice-President of Programming and Production at MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE, the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal and Les FrancoFolies. What exactly do you do? “I’m responsible for all the stages and what’s on those stages, both indoors and outdoors. So it’s about choosing the artists, but it’s also about the lights, the sound and everything that’s on the stages themselves.” What’s the coolest thing about your job? “The coolest thing is being able to bring new faces, new talent, new… / Read More →

Marvel Universe LIVE! A visual and technological marvel coming to Montréal

“Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can…” Can he swing from a thread? Take a look overhead at the Bell Centre this summer when Marvel Universe LIVE! flies, motorbikes and, yes, swings into Montréal with iconic Marvel comics characters like Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow and more. For four days, Aug. 20-23, a monumental battle between good and evil will rage through the rafters of the Bell Centre as some 25 Marvel characters undertake an epic quest based on an original story created for this equally epic presentation. In sum, the Mighty Thor has shattered the much-coveted Cosmic Cube (the source of ultimate power, of course) and hidden its pieces around the globe lest it fall into the wrong hands. Like those of his villainous brother Loki, who cooks up a scheme to clone the Cube’s powers thus threatening all life in the universe. Right? Cutting edge special effects, pyrotechnics, aerial stunts, martial arts, superb motorcycle stunts, breathtaking sets and incredible costumes all contribute to the virtually non-stop action. The show, which took over a year to create, is one of the largest and most technologically complex spectacles ever to be mounted in the Bell Centre. For example,… / Read More →

Winter sports in Montréal: Get out there and beat the cold!

In Montréal, winter isn’t so much obstacle as opportunity. With the change in weather comes a change in the range of sports and recreational options – from 3-skiing to snowshoeing to dogsledding and even yoga – capable of satisfying the desires of everyone from the casual outdoor enthusiast to the truly adventurous winter lover. Montréal’s parks offer a winter wonderland of cross-country skiing and snowshoe trails. Primary among these would be the 22 km of trails of varying degrees of difficulty that wind their way around Mount Royal Park (use of the trails is free, and ski and snowshoe rentals are available). To the east of downtown, Parc Maisonneuve has over 11 km of cross-country ski trails, while close by there are several kilometres of groomed cross-country trails that are also free and open to the public from sun-up to sundown at the Botanical Gardens (you must bring your own skis). The Gardens have three ski trails (1.2 km, 1.6 km and 4.1 km) of cross-country skiing. Check here to find out the current conditions of the city’s ski and snowshoe trails. If, on the other hand, you’d simply like to try out some snowshoes before committing to them, the annual madness that is the Montréal Ice… / Read More →

Montréal’s BARBEGAZI Fest: Canada’s “coolest winter action sports event”

It’s a wild winter fest worthy of its namesake, the “barbegazi,” mythical gnome-like creatures with long beards that reside in the French and Swiss Alps and spend their leisure hours surfing on avalanches with their enormous feet. And while avalanche surfing isn’t yet on the sched for this third edition of Montréal’s BARBEGAZI Winter Action Sports Festival, it wouldn’t feel out of place amongst the craziness. The two-day, all-ages BARBEGAZI Festival – this year on February 14 and 15, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. – again takes place against the spectacular backdrop of Montréal’s Olympic Stadium, on the Esplanade Financière Sun Life in the Olympic Park. Over 6,000 attendees turned out for the 2014 instalment of the fest, which centres on lumberjack and freestyle snowmobile competitions. Snowskating (taking snowboards and skis to the Esplanade’s railings and stairs and whatever else strikes one’s fancy) will still be a featured component of BARBEGAZI festivities, though not in competition form this year. Rather, it’s something festival goers will be encouraged to try out. Best of all? Admission to both days of BARBEGAZI is completely free. And the fun doesn’t end there. “We’re going to integrate a fatbike race – the big bicycles with huge wheels that can… / Read More →

How to brighten up your winter days and nights in Montréal

There’s nothing like that first shock of cold air on a brisk winter’s morning to remind you that you’re alive. And so it is that, during the coldest solstice of the year, Montréal positively overflows with life. From Igloofest to MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE, Luminothérapie, Happening Gourmand, a crazy little something called Barbegazi and much more, Montréal has everything it takes to brighten winter nights and knock the grey out of your day. The party is hearty and the partiers hardier as thousands of electronic music fans dance their way into the hugely popular Igloofest for four weekends of top-rated local and international DJs. For its ninth edition, Igloofest – which takes place Jan. 16-18, Jan. 23-25, Jan. 30 to Feb. 1, and Feb. 6-8 – once again takes over the Jacques-Cartier Quay in the Old Port of Montréal, immediately adjacent to Old Montréal. Architecturally innovative, custom designed stages will be illuminated by beautifully crafted laser light shows and video projections that will help showcase the dozens of DJs working in a variety of genres and sub-genres in the sub-zero. MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE has, for 16 years, been lighting a fire under fun times in the city’s core. One of the… / Read More →