Maybe because there’s no official holiday in February, Montreal went and created a reason to celebrate: this year marks the 14th Montréal en Lumière, a festival of music, entertainment, food and outdoor fun, happening February 21 to March 3…
Musically, Montréal en Lumière spans genres and the globe, from classic American rock band The Zombies (yes!) to crowd favourite Diana Krall to a whole series of shows inspired by this year’s guest city, Buenos Aires, Argentina, including tango grandmaster Daniel Piazzolla and his sextet Escalandrum and award-winning tango dancers and musicians at the La Pista Tango show at Place des Arts.
Acclaimed pianist Alain Lefèvre returns to Montreal to play his own compositions, soprano Marie-Josée Lord sings a selection of Spanish, Latin and Portuguese songs, blues, folk and gospel is in store with Eric Bibb and Habib Koité, and on February 22, it’s time to party with Montreal ska-funk band The Planet Smashers. Meanwhile, on the more eclectic rock-folk end of things, there’s Pierre Lapointe, -M-, Karim Ouellet, Colin Moore, Thus: Owls, and more, as well as classical, jazz and gospel shows lighting up evenings throughout the festival.
For drama, intrigue and wonder look to Montréal en Lumière’s theatre, dance and circus shows: Trad follows the story of an Irish centenarian and his father as they traverse the Irish countryside in search of their remaining family; The Humanity Project’s 50-person-strong Pigeons International poetically blends theatre and dance; multimedia performance-installation The Speaking Tent tells stories of urban life and traditional ways.
Agora de la Danse joins in with new contemporary dance performances from Harold Rhéaume and José Navas; the Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain flies high with some of the best acrobats and circus artists in the world; Magnitude6, full_range blows electronic-music-loving minds with arrangements by Brandt Brauer Frick; and a series of old-school cabaret dinner-and-dancing shows unwinds at Le Balcon.
Along with all that music and on-stage spectacle is plenty of free entertainment. The festival’s family-friendly outdoor site at Quartiers des Spectacles around Place des Arts will feature a disco-inspired ice slide (totally worth the wait in line), interactive projections on the area’s buildings, music, and much more. All this activity culminates in Nuit Blanche on March 2, a thousands-strong public event that spans the city’s galleries, theatres, underground corridors and outdoor stages – and goes on late, late into the night.
Montréal en Lumière, February 21 to March 3, 2013