Each winter, Montréal sparkles with light, entertainment and gourmet goodness during the MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE Festival. And this year, our favourite winter mood-booster is an official event on the program of Montréal’s high-profile 375th anniversary celebrations, offering even more brilliant ideas on how to spark up your life with fun, food, light and music. Here’s what you need to know about the 2017 edition, and why it makes sense to head north this coming February 23 to March 11.
Treat your taste buds to the fine cuisine of Lyon
For the festival’s gourmet component, we’ll be lionizing the fabulous cuisine of Lyon, France. The festival’s grand featured city, home of an impressive 21 Michelin-starred chefs and some 4,200 restaurants, will lavish us with its lovely gastronomy, thanks to an impressive contingent of its chefs, including Jérôme Bocuse and Christopher Muller, the two honorary co-presidents. In restaurants across Montréal, the creativity will be flying off the charts as our guest chefs and local culinary creators pool their immense talents together and make our taste buds go crazy. If that wasn’t enough, this edition of the MEL will also welcome the largest delegation of international chefs since its inception with the Délice Network, an international network of 22 gourmet cities. These masters of the kitchen will be pairing up with our powerhouse chefs across the city: palates, prepare to pop! Other food forays to investigate include the Lyon “bouchon” at the Balmoral, a giant Lyonnaise soup served outside at the festival site, the Festival of Our Cheeses, the Mondial des Cidres, Pay Your Age, La Tablée des Chefs and The PotluckMTL – a mouthwatering menu to choose from! Don’t forget that some events are free of charge, too.
Trip the light fantastic (dance to the music)
A great way, generally, to banish the winter wearies is by dancing, swaying or grooving your way into a new frame of mind. From south of the border, the double bill of Rickie Lee Jones and Madeleine Peyroux brings us jazz, folk, blues and pop, Cecile McLorin Salvant Music puts us in jazz mode, while Lee Fields & The Expressions bring us high-wattage soul. From across the ocean, Agnes Obel and Lisa Hannigan offer a Danish-Irish pairing of pop, folk and classical or you can get in on Gallic grooves via Odezenne’s alt-electronica and Tryo’s acoustic reggae. Closer to home, Valaire keeps the party going with their unbeatable groove and soul, local darling Bruno Pelletier promises to wow with his powerhouse vocals, Bears of Legend transfix with their own brand of folk, while multi-instrumental and electro DJ Champion rules the dance floor. In from New Brunswick Les Hay babies bring their indie-folk-country sounds to the stage, and Prairie power comes to the fore with honorary president and legendary Daniel Lavoie as well as the captivating songstress Chantal Kreviazuk, both Manitoban-born. For the classical music lovers, Alain Lefèvre and Alexandre Da Costa are slated to sweep us off our feet with exquisite piano and violin. These are highlights; go to the MEL’s site for the complete program and check out its generous offering of choices.
Immerse yourself in dance and theatre
Canada’s queen of contemporary dance, Margie Gillis, is set to entrance with performances of her most iconic pieces in The Heritage Project at Place des arts. You can let your flamenco soul soar during the impassioned performances of Soirée Flamenca with Mirada Flamenco at Le Balcon or the Lo Esencial show by Luis de la Carrasca at Le Gesù. For the thespian crowd, there’s Bakersfield Mist and You Will Remember Me at the Centaur Theatre. Want to flex your vocal cords? Get tickets to the Big Broadway Sing-Along at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts or see Kim’s Convenience, the play that sparked the CBC sitcom.
Step outside for scintillating light and rides
No corner of the city is more luminous at this time of the year than the festival’s kaleidoscopic outdoor site at the Place des festivals in our lively Quartier des spectacles. Watch the sparkle from high above on the Ferris wheel, whiz down the multicolor giant slide or soar over the crowds on the zip line. New this year will be “illuminated curling” a version of the sport with a little more dash and dazzle. As you throw your rocks and sweep, everything lights up: think curling in a pinball machine. ILLUMINART will also present its second light-centric outdoor exhibition, which includes 25 technological works that run the gamut from giant projections to video mapping on buildings to bonfires made of light bulbs. Lyon, the featured city for 2017, will be sharing its own love and luminous inspirations from its celebrated festival, the “Fêtes des lumières”. Something to light up everyone’s heart!
Keep checking back for more on Nuit Blanche
Everybody’s favourite dusk-to-dawner, Nuit Blanche, will be back with more downtown discoveries. It’s the one time of the year when, round the clock, people get the run of museums and galleries, shopping complexes and can check out art exhibitions, live music, films and other such treats that sprinkled liberally above ground and in Montréal’s “underground city”. And don’t forget the fun of the MEL’s outdoor site and its hypnotic, happening fairground. Full details to be released in early February.