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Posts by Jamie O'Meara

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 →

Dance the Winter Away at Igloofest 2015

When the going gets cool, the cool get dancing in Montreal’s Old Port. As the mercury hits rock bottom in January and February, the bottom end gets a boost for the thousands upon thousands of electronic music fans who bundle into Igloofest’s Igloo Village over four weekends of top-rated local and international DJs…

Montréal has all the right moves when it comes to showcasing dance

From classical to contemporary to the outer realms of creative exploration, when it comes to dance Montreal has a longstanding and well-earned reputation as a city on the move. Top-tier homegrown exports like Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, La La La Human Steps and the Compagnie Marie Chouinard – as well as an always dizzying array of visiting dance companies – have gone a long way towards cementing Montréal’s standing as a key destination for both diehard dance aficionados and casual fans alike. Moreover, when the mercury dives, the city’s dance scene comes alive. The many soft-seat theatres of varying scales in Montréal’s Place des Arts (PDA), the crown jewel in downtown Montréal’s Quartier des Spectacles, provide an elegant setting for dance of all descriptions year-round. Highly regarded contemporary ballet company Ballet BC, from Vancouver, will take over PDA’s Théâtre Maisonneuve for three nights with a triple bill, January 22 to 24. The three distinctive choreographies – the award-winning Walking Mad, the zany Petite Cérémonie and the eccentric and tribal A.U.R.A. – showcase the considerable abilities of the company’s 18 dancers. The largest of PDA’s theatres, Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, will play host to Cuba’s Lizt Alfonso Danza Cuba company, who are pretty much guaranteed to light a fire under… / Read More →

Winter arts and culture festival MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE is a bright light in a big city

Montrealers have long been predisposed towards thumbing their collective nose at deepest, darkest winter, so 16 years ago when the planners of a unique new February festival declared “Let there be light,” they weren’t kidding. Since then, MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE has evolved into one of the largest winter arts and culture festivals in the world. Organized by the same festive folks who produce Montréal’s globally renowned Jazz Fest and the FrancoFolies French music festival, MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE annually draws some 1,300,000 visitors. The fest features an expansive and eclectic program of entertainment and activities encompassing an array of performing arts (live music, theatre, dance, circus arts and more), journeys in gastronomy, free outdoor family attractions/distractions and more than a few surprises. Every year the festival celebrates a featured country, and this year the spotlight is on artists from Switzerland. Internationally acclaimed Swiss pop singer/songwriter Stephan Eicher and ascendant Québec folk/soul artist Bobby Bazini are the honorary co-presidents of the fest, with Eicher performing the prestigious closing festival concert at Place des Arts, on February 28. For his part, Bazini will captivate the majestic Métropolis concert hall, February 26. The epicenter of all the action is MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE’s vibrant (and… / Read More →

Guide to New Year’s Eve in Montreal 2014

Consider this your invitation to New Year’s Eve in Montreal, but be sure to note that, as always, it’s BYOB: Bring Your Own Bedtime. Whether it’s delectable dining, wintery walking or skating, champagne-fuelled dancing and/or every other manner of party prancing, Montreal has the solution to your New Year’s Eve resolution, all night and – in some cases – all the next day long. Strap in…

Montreal’s Olympic Park Winter Village 2015

We can be comfortably certain that the African wise man or woman who coined the proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” wasn’t figuring Montreal’s Olympic Park Winter Village into their observation. Still, as villages go, while our annual celebration of winter recreation may or may not raise your offspring’s life game, it’s pretty much guaranteed to supply him or her (or you) with the kind of outdoor frozen fun that creates memories that do indeed last a lifetime.

Montreal Holiday Shopping Guide

Whether it’s stuffing the stockings of others or being Santa to yourself, Montreal comes with a sleigh-full of holiday shopping options – from Christmas markets to bountiful boutiques to original art and artisans – that are all sparkling with possibility…

Montreal Holiday Food Guide

Montreal steps up its already considerable gastronomic game during the holiday season, infusing festive spirit into imaginative and innovative once-a-year offerings tailored to every appetite and taste…