January is “Happening Gourmand” month in Montréal! On the menu are dining experiences at the city’s finest restaurants served up at a fraction of their regular cost. Eight establishments welcome guests with a set menu including two appetizer choices, three main course options, and two delicious dessert possibilities. Eat out every night in January, 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 largest winter arts and culture happenings in the world, the festival presents an expansive and eclectic program of performing arts (live music, theatre, dance, circus arts and more), almost innumerable gastronomic options and a lively range of outdoor events and activities. The free and family-friendly outdoor site – featuring a giant outdoor stage, interactive installations, dining areas, fireworks and a snaking ice slide – in the Quartier des Spectacles in downtown Montréal is the hub from which the action radiates.
Calling all burners of the midnight oil: MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE once again concludes the festival with the epic Nuit Blanche all-nighter, which invites participants to partake in upwards of 200 (mostly free) activities including live music, film, dance, performance art, interactive installations, storytelling, digital and visual art, great food and equally great times. Nuit Blanche overruns a sizeable chunk of aboveground Montréal (served by shuttles) as well as Montréal’s underground pedestrian network, often called the “Underground City.” Expect city sidewalks to be shoulder-to-shoulder with joyful revellers for this always anticipated evening of exploration, which takes place on Feb. 28.
Fiat lux, indeed. The enchanting and entrancing Luminothérapie project in Place des Festivals in the Quartier des Spectacles is a visually vibrant interactive experience that turns bright lights on the dark nights. Until Feb. 1, two brightly lit, futuristic art installations throw their surroundings into a sharply different context with your assistance. The 50 whirling kaleidoscopes of the multimedia Prismatica will create a dizzying array of rainbow colours while Fascinoscope is a carnivalesque series of eight video projections with a game component scattered around the Quartier des Spectacles. The not-so-secret key to maximum amusement here? Don’t be shy.
We are all village people at heart. At least that’s what the Parc Olympique Winter Village has demonstrated year after year with its popular and entertaining array of winter events and activities for the whole family. Situated on the Olympic Stadium’s Esplanade Financière Sun Life every day until March 18, the Winter Village is home to a temperature-maintained skating rink (a popular draw for those who enjoy partaking in winter sports and activities in Montréal – bring your own skates), a heated chalet where you can roast marshmallows, live music performances, fun food options and loads of entertaining recreational activities. And, as always, admission is free.
While most people have at least heard of American pop art revolutionary Andy Warhol, there likely aren’t a lot of folks outside art historical circles who know that the controversy-courting Warhol got his start designing album covers, perfume ads, book covers, window displays and even Christmas cards. Well now everyone has a chance to be in the know thanks to Warhol Mania at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts. The collection of 50 posters and nearly 1,000 illustrations from 400 magazines, curated by Montréal collector and historian Paul Maréchal, runs until March 15.
Gastronomy in January is coming up eights this year. From Jan. 8 to Feb. 8, eight highly reputed restos in Old Montréal will be at the forefront of the eighth edition of “Happening Gourmand,” which sees fine dining establishments such as Kyo Bar Japonais, Méchant Boeuf, Suite 701 and Verses Restaurant offering up set lunch and dinner menus at a fraction of their regular cost. To wit, menus including two appetizer choices, three main course options and a choice of two dessert possibilities will be available at $21, $25 and $29. And purchasers of a Happening Gourmand menu also serve themselves a discount on tickets to the aforementioned Igloofest.
Rock the cradle of Western civilization at The Greeks – the world premiere of the largest exhibition chronicling Ancient Greece ever held in North America – at Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Museum of Archaeology and History. Immerse yourself in more than 5,000 years of critical history and culture, from the Neolithic Period to the age of Alexander the Great, as evidenced by more than 500 priceless artifacts courtesy of 21 Greek museums at one of Montréal’s most cherished historical institutions, until Apr. 26.
And finally, Montréal’s wild and woolly Barbegazi Winter Action Sports Festival bills itself as the coolest cold action sports gathering in Canada, and it’s not hard to see why. The two-day, all-ages Barbegazi Festival (Feb. 14-15) again takes place against the spectacular backdrop of Montréal’s Olympic Stadium, on the Esplanade Financière Sun Life. Barbegazi centres on lumberjack and freestyle snowmobile competitions, while snowskating, fatbike racing and a little something called “yukigassen” will be among the many other adrenaline-driven activities that festival goers will be encouraged to try out for themselves. And one other thing: admission is completely free.