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TOYS EXHIBIT KICKS OFF CHRISTMAS AT THE MCCORD MUSEUM

It’s almost that time of year and, as always, toys are at the top of many Christmas lists. TOYS 2, the exhibit at Montreal’s McCord Museum from November 18 to March 11, is a delight for both the young and young-at-heart. I followed the path of tiny cat paws painted on the museum floor and they led me to this charming new show…

THANKSGIVING TURKEY AND BLACK FRIDAY IN MONTREAL

American friends, lend me your ears. On November 24, long after us Canadians, you celebrate Thanksgiving. But here in Montreal, we’re not above feting the holiday twice. Montreal is a quick and easy getaway where you can still enjoy the comforts of home, albeit in a hip Canadian way. Come on up for your traditional dysfunctional family dinner, then work off your turkey coma scoping out some Black Friday sales…

CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR’S MENUS

Stay and Eat over the holidays in these elegant downtown hotel -restaurants Old Montreal is gussied up to its finest, with snowy streets and twinkling lights and all the romance you could ever want. So hunker down in one of the city’s glam hotels and check out the holiday menus at some of the city’s best restaurants, that you can slip into without weathering the wind outside… If I were coming to Montreal for the holidays, I would want to stay at the Hotel St-James, and I would want to eat Christmas dinner at XO, one of Montreal’s top-rated restaurants. The St-James is old-world elegant at any time of year, but over the holidays, the soaring 19th-century roo is in its element.

MONTREAL’S DELUXE DEPARTMENT STORES

A Akin to Barney’s and Saks in the U.S., Shoe Mart in the Philippines, Seibu in Japan, El Corte Inglés in Spain, and Selfridges in the U.K.; downtown Montreal has her own fancy department stores. Three major ones are La Maison Ogilvy, The Hudson’s Bay Company, and Holt Renfrew. I encourage shoppers and visitors to visit all of these beautifully historic “cathedrals of commerce” whose turn-of-the-century architecture reinforces the adage, They just don’t build ‘em like they used to.

THE MOST ROMANTIC HOLIDAY THINGS TO DO IN MONTREAL

There is something magical about Montreal over the holidays. The mixture of Christmas lights, snowflakes and European charm help create a romantic wintry setting that is hard to match anywhere else in North America. With that in mind, here are seven of our suggestions to make your getaway extra romantic!

THE NUTCRACKER MARKET

I was about nine years old when I saw my first ballet – The Nutcracker. What little girl doesn’t dance around in her PJs and dream of being Clara? (Although, personally, at that age I was more interested in leaping around in a tutu than hanging out with any Toy Soldier.) Thus began a love affair for classical dance that never really faded, even after a very discouraging Ballet For Adults class. Some things, I’ve discovered, you just have to start at a young – and pliable – age.

LE SALON DES MÉTIERS D’ART: MONTREAL’S ONE-STOP SHOPPING SPOT FOR HOLIDAYS

While in town, shop early for the whole family, for the office, for friends (and for yourself!) at the Salon des métiers d’arts du Québec. It is the most important professional exhibition-sale in the province.  The wonderful fair full of hand-made works has praise from all who visit.  It has been a go-to gift-buying place for locals for years, and visitors have quickly discovered it. You can choose from a vast array of made-with-love-and talent pieces. Art, beads and bracelets, decorative objects, ecological works, foie gras, jams, kids’ clothing, lamps, sculptures, wine..basically almost everything and anything one might need to wrap. Wait.  No need to wrap.  A booth at the Salon will do this for you…easy, peasy.

FORGET AMERICAN THANKSGIVING, ESCAPE TO MONTREAL FOR THE WEEKEND

Dear American friends, Thanksgiving is just around the corner. For many of you, this time of year represents festive meals and the opportunity to reflect on the blessings in one’s life. Yet for other folks, Thanksgiving is a tired and stress-inducing holiday where you’re forced to wear that god-awful chartreuse sweater that your half-blind aunt knit you while salivating over Don Johnson during a Miami Vice marathon. And let’s be honest, the embarrassment of smelling like Fixodent drool each holiday begins to erode one’s self-respect.