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Memorable moments at the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal

Patience and quick thinking are job requirements for Festival International de Jazz de Montréal (FIJM) organizers dealing with divas, egos, cancellations, no-shows and the inevitable musician being held up at Canada Customs. Here are some memorable anecdotes from the FIJM, the biggest and grandest music festival on the planet: After the FIJM fronted reggae icon Bunny Wailer $10,000 for his 1998 gig at Métropolis, Wailer pocketed the cash and blew off the show. FIJM co-founder André Ménard was outraged. Twelve years later, when Wailer was booked to headline the Montréal International Reggae Festival in August 2010, Ménard told me, “We’re not taking any action against Wailer because we don’t want to give him an excuse not to come a second time. Bunny Wailer posed to me as a man of integrity and principle. I still think he is a great artist. But a man of integrity? F–k it! I’m still waiting for his personal invitation to see him at the reggae festival. That will be the most expensive concert ticket I’ve ever paid for.” In the end, Wailer was a no-show at the Montréal International Reggae Festival that year too. When Tony Bennett headlined Théâtre St-Denis in 1985, his band took off with his… / Read More →

Things to do in Montréal: April 1 to 7

April arrives in Montréal as sugar shack season begins to wind down – get your fill of maple syrup and more food before it’s over – and award-winning restaurants revamp menus while the spring cultural calendar heats up with multimedia art, dance, theatre, orchestra concerts and all kinds of live music. April flowers Step into Montréal’s Botanical Garden to see the very beginnings of spring in bud and sample maple taffy on snow during sugaring off time (only until April 3!), while indoors butterflies go free and caterpillars cocoon, and the Botanical Garden restaurant’s special Sugar Shack menu keeps everyone well fed to April 24. If you’re extending your Spring Break in Montréal, consult our Guide to Spring Break Montréal Style and Montréal nightlife guide for places to eat, drink, dance and chill out. If you’re here with family, our Spring Break for families in Montréal guide has some ideas for entertaining and even subtly educational things to do with kids. Throughout the season, find free things to do in Montréal – for families, for friends, for fun (speaking of fun, these great gifs illustrate the 10 Signs that spring has totally arrived in Montréal.) Do you love spas, fancy… / Read More →

Things to do in Montréal: March 18 to 24

As the snow melts away in Montréal, urban sugar shacks serve up delicious meals, spring break activities continue, film festivals and art events grant new perspectives, dance and theatre move us, and live music sets the weekly soundtrack. Spring starts Welcome spring with thousands of Montrealers at the city’s boisterous 193rd St. Patrick’s Day Parade, taking place downtown along Ste-Catherine Street starting at noon on March 20, and keep on celebrating the luck of the Irish at the city’s best Irish pubs. In sports action, the hockey season isn’t over for the Montréal Canadiens – they play the Flames on March 20 and the Ducks on March 22 at the Bell Centre. Whether you’re on Spring Break or not, check out our Guide to Spring Break Montréal Style for places to eat, drink, dance and chill out. If you’re here with family, our Spring Break for families in Montréal guide has kids covered. And if the warmer weather has you itching to paint the town red – whether that means sampling local microbrews or going late-night dancing – Montréal’s nightlife has it all. Seasonal food If you’re in Montréal in March, you must experience the Québecois tradition of the sugar… / Read More →

Things to do in Montréal March 11 to 17

As much as Montréal loves its winter festivals and snow sports, the city welcomes spring with open arms – we’re feeling a hint of it this week as restaurants roll out new dishes, film festivals and art events open our eyes on the world, our sports teams fight to the finish, and dance, theatre and live music keep us inspired. Spring sights and sports With winter festivals over and the city starting to thaw out, thoughts of spring are in the air – see our Guide to Spring Break Montréal Style for high-energy nightlife and restaurant ideas or find all kinds of things to do with kids of all ages in our Spring Break for families in Montréal guide. Downtown’s underground city welcomes art lovers to do some shopping and see excellent contemporary art in expansive exhibition Art Souterrain. Celebrate the luck of the Irish on on March 17 at the city’s best Irish pubs, see the Olympic Stadium tower lit up in green, and stick around for Montréal’s legendary St-Patrick’s Day Parade on March 20. In sports action, the hockey season isn’t over for the Montréal Canadiens – they play the Wild on March 11 and the Panthers on… / Read More →

Things to do in Montréal: February 19 to 25

Montréal’s downtown sparkles with free entertainment this week at the MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE winter festival, while indoors you can go butterfly spotting, play games at the games festival, watch hockey, and see stars of dance, theatre, film, art and live music shine. Snowy celebrations Montréal’s biggest family-friendly festival of the season is in full swing: MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE’s free outdoor site fills downtown’s Place des Festivals with music, multimedia shows, ice slides, a Ferris wheel, fabulous food and more, while the festival’s indoor performances highlight musical performances and theatre – let our MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE SURVIVAL GUIDE lead the way. Go for a scenic skate next to the Saint-Lawrence River at the Bonsecours Basin ice skating rink in the Old Port and at the Village MAMMOUTH at the Olympic Park Esplanade. Talk a walk through nature right in the city in Mount Royal, La Fontaine and Jean-Drapeau parks. And make it all easier with these Montreal-specific apps. Indoor activities Spring is truly in the air at the Botanical Garden’s Butterflies Go Free event at the Space For Life (also home to the Biodôme, Insectarium and Planetarium) – this year butterflies share the spotlight with furry caterpillars. Game lovers of all ages can play board games,… / Read More →

Things to do in Montréal: January 29 to February 4

Montréal prevails as a bustling winter wonderland this week with the fun of outdoor festivals Fêtes des neiges and Igloofest, food celebrations La Poutine Week and Happening Gourmand, and a bounty of opera, dance, theatre, art and live music. Winter action Go play in the snow at scenic Parc Jean-Drapeau’s family-friendly Fêtes des neiges, a massive activity park featuring tube sliding, zip lining, ice skating, a toddler play zone, hot beverages, delicious snacks and lively entertainment on Saturday and Sunday. Also ice skate in the Old Port at Bonsecours Basin or head to Olympic Park (also home to the Biodôme, Botanical Garden and Planetarium) to skate and slide at Village MAMMOUTH – or try curling in the courtyard of the Stewart Museum. Nighttime stays bright city-wide, starting downtown at Place des Festivals where you can play on 30 illuminated teeter-totters at Luminothérapie until January 31. Dress in your warmest winter gear and for massive outdoor dance party Igloofest at the Old Port – this Friday it’s Detroit techno legend Carl Craig and British producer Heidi followed on Saturday by Sébastien Léger, Gina Turner and Poirier, and the following Thursday by Modeselektor. Fight fans will be at the Bell Centre on January… / Read More →

20 great reasons to visit Montréal in 2016

Because the food is fabulous 1. Get ready to roll out the red carpet and welcome Joël Robuchon, who starting in fall 2016 will be tickling our taste buds at Atelier, in the Montréal Casino on beautiful Île Notre-Dame. The famed French chef has 28 Michelin stars to his name—want to bet Atelier garners him more? 2. There are dozens upon dozens of award winning restaurants in La Belle Ville, including Joe Beef, Au Pied de Cochon, Park, Toqué, Laloux, Pastaga, Lawrence, Le Bremner, Le Serpent, Chez Lévêque, Foodlab… the city is your oyster. Find other suggestions here. 3. Montréal’s festivals are renowned, and some of them are tasty as heck. There’s a mouth-watering calendar of food fests, from Poutine Week in February to Happy November! in, well November, not to mention our very special restaurant week, MTL à TABLE, which brings flavour to the end of October every year by joining dozens of local restaurants together to offer prix-fixe menus that give everyone a chance to enjoy their out-of-sight delights. Come taste for yourself! Because it never sleeps 4. With a promoter like Evenko, Montréal doesn’t miss a thing. Not only do they put on world-famous festivals Osheaga and Heavy… / Read More →

Things to do in Montréal: December 18 to 24

In the week leading up to Christmas a lot of us are either rushing around getting things done or winding down at last – whether you need to go gift shopping or just want to relax at a show, there’s plenty to do in Montréal right up to Christmas and beyond. Merry days and nights Celebrate the season in season in Montréal style at Merry Montréal throughout Old Montréal where you can warm up at fires, drink free hot chocolate, see Santa at the Christmas market at Place Jacques-Cartier, watch Christmas-themed films and more. Over at downtown’s Place des festival, let the kids loose and your inner child play at the glittering Le Grand Marché de Noël de Montréal outdoors on the Esplanade of Place des Arts. Also outdoors at Place des Arts, play on the 30 illuminated see-saws of interactive art exhibition Luminothérapie, on until January 31 along with animated digital art projected onto nearby buildings and throughout the Quartier des Spectacles. And Le Festival Noël dans le parc lights up Parc des Compagnons-de-St-Laurent (Mont-Royal Avenue at Cartier) with activities and music on weekday evenings and in the afternoon and evenings on weekends to December 25. More holiday fun For hours… / Read More →

Things to do in Montréal December 11 to 17

This is the week when it really and truly begins to feel a lot like Christmas – whether snow falls or not, the streets are aglitter with seasonal festivities. Go shopping for gifts, play on interactive public art, see The Nutcracker and more on stage, and hear music from choirs to rock bands. Sparkling streets Follow the glittering lights and happy people to Le Grand Marché de Noël de Montréal, a colourful new outdoor winter market right downtown at the Place des Arts Esplanade, December 12 to January 2, where not only can you find great presents but plenty of activities, entertainment and food and drink for the whole family. Montréal celebrates the season all around the city: Merry Montréal turns Old Montréal into a winter wonderland with fires to warm up by, free hot chocolate, Santa at the Christmas market at Place Jacques-Cartier, Christmas-themed films and more; in the Plateau at the Marché de Noël Prince Arthur along Prince Arthur Street starting at the corner of Boulevard St-Laurent see performances, watch films, shop and sample treats; Le Festival Noël dans le parc lights up Parc des Compagnons-de-St-Laurent (Mont-Royal Avenue at Cartier) and Parc Lahaie (Saint-Laurent Boulevard at Saint-Joseph) with activities and live… / Read More →

Things to do in Montréal: November 13 to 19

Montréal offers a feast for the senses this week, with new films set on earth and in the sky, high-energy sports and video gaming, drama and dance, cutting-edge visual art and local artisanal creations, and a seemingly endless amount of live music. On-screen adventure Hundreds of new documentary features and shorts from around the world come to Montréal screens this week during the 18th annual Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM), November 12 to 22 – along with so many eye-opening films on subjects ranging from war and refugees to environmental issues and government reform, go to talks by directors, actors and film industry members, special events and more. Catch the newest in French-language films (with English subtitles, bien sûr) at the CINEMANIA festival until November 15, including Jacques Audiard’s Dheepan and the premieres of Floride by Philippe Le Guay Marguerite et Julien by Valérie Donzelli and Je suis mort mais j’ai des amis by Stéphane and Guillaume Malandrin. As well, at the Phi Centre, see David Oelhoffen’s Loin des Hommes, November 16 to 18, an adaptation of a short story by Albert Camus and starring Viggo Mortensen. The Éléphant Classiq festival honours Québec cinema masterpieces, November 19 to 22, opening… / Read More →