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!
[Updated on January 4, 2016]
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 light up your 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. 14-16, Jan. 21-23, Jan. 28 to Jan. 30, and Feb. 4-6 – 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 17 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. The 2016 edition jumps from 11 to 17 days, February 18 to March 5, so families can take advantage of the midwinter school break.
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 on Feb. 27.
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 Jan. 31, Place des Festivals will be transformed into a giant illuminated playground by the interactive installation Impulse, comprised of 30 fully functional seesaws. Seating two to four people, each seesaw is fitted with LED lights and speakers allowing users to create the soundtrack to their experience. Complementing Impulse are nine large-scale, animated video projections on the facades of prominent buildings situated around the Quartier des Spectacles.
We are all village people at heart. At least that’s what Village Mammouth posits with its entertaining array of winter events and activities for the whole family. Situated on the Olympic Stadium’s Esplanade Financière Sun Life, Thursday to Sunday until March 6, the Village Mammouth is home to a regulation-size hockey and skating rink, a giant ice slide, fun food options at three different bars/restaurants, heated relaxation areas, and DJs and dancing after the sun goes down.
From Jan. 7 to Feb. 7, eight highly reputed restos in Old Montréal will be at the forefront of the ninth edition of Happening Gourmand, which sees fine dining establishments BEVO Bar + Pizzeria, Modavie, Kyo Bar Japonais, Méchant Boeuf, Taverne Gaspar, Suite 701, Vieux-Port Steakhouse 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 $22, $25 and $29. And purchasers of a Happening Gourmand menu also serve themselves a discount on tickets to the aforementioned Igloofest.
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 (March 5-6) 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 and fatbike racing will be among the many other adrenaline-driven activities. And one other thing: admission is completely free.
And finally, every weekend in January and February, Montréal’s always fun and fascinating Pointe-à-Callière Museum of Archaeology and History will reduce the price of admission by a percentage equal to the below-zero temperature recorded that morning. For example, if it’s -20° C outside, then museum visitors will receive a 20 percent discount on their admission ticket. And no, the wind chill doesn’t count.