After buying presents, taking vacation time off from work and spending more than usual on celebratory food and drink, many of us end up hiding our credit cards and staying at home in January – but that’s so not necessary in Montreal, where there are free things to do all year round, yes, even in January…
(discover downtown) There’s always something happening for free at the Quartier des Spectacles in the downtown core. Outside, make some music with the illuminated outdoor installation Iceberg and watch for video-projection art on the sides of buildings, part of the high-tech Luminothérapie art exhibition. Inside in the centre of the Place des Arts complex until February 3, see photography exhibition Finzi Pasca, Dali & La Verità, of and inspired by the Salvador-Dali-focused stage show La Verità, opening at Place des Arts in January.
(cool outside) Outdoor enthusiasts love Montreal in winter – when you’re cross-country skiing, playing hockey, skating or into any winter sports, the cold just doesn’t seem to matter as much – and if you’ve got your own equipment, much of it doesn’t cost a thing. Skating in Parc Lafontaine, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on the Mountain, or simply walking through the city are all free all the time, and there’s plenty to see too. Walk around Old Montreal and be sure to look into the sky on New Year’s Eve at midnight and on January 5 at 8 p.m. to see the Telus Fire on Ice fireworks. And the all-new Olympic Park Winter Village is free for everyone, with a skating and hockey rink, a toboggan run, activities for kids, a snowy tennis tournament on January 5, a “Funky Karnaval” music and dance performance January 5-6, and more – and while not free, on Saturday, January 5, several of Montreal’s food trucks will serve up delicious food, from burgers to gourmet dishes.
(art activities) Admission is always free to the permanent collections at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, where new exhibitions open this January: see an array of works by Impressionist artists, Taiwanese artist Chih-Chien Wang’s As Far As We Were, As Close As I Can, Iranian photographer Aydin Matlabi’s Landscape, Revolution, People, as well as paintings, sculpture, new media art and more from famed Quebecois, Canadian and international artists. On January 19, DHC/ART foundation in Old Montreal unveils Thomas Demand: Animations, an exhibition of the German artist’s films and videos, interlacing photography, architecture, sculpture and media images. Outside the downtown core, climb inside SQUEEEEQUE the Improbable Igloo, artist Alexis O’Hara’s large speakerbox igloo, where she and other artists will be performing and welcoming the public to play too from January 10 to February 17 at Maison de la culture NDG. And for a taste of what Montreal artists are up to, visit smaller galleries and artist-run centres in the five-storey Belgo Building (372 Ste-Catherine W.)
(moving images) Escape the cold throughout January at the state-of-the-art PHI Centre, a multidisciplinary arts and cultural hub in beautiful Old Montreal, where free screenings of top Canadian films such as Xavier Dolan’s Lawrence Anyways, Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell, Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis, Midnight’s Children, The End of Time, and more will be shown on select evenings – admission is on a first-come, first-serve basis!
Photo credit: © Thomas Demand, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn / SODRAC, Ottawa
Rolltreppe / Escalator, 2000, 35 mm Film Loop, 2,00 min