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Montréal winter nights are bright with activity possibilities

Nighttime is always the right time for both family fun and slightly more adult-oriented activities and entertainment in Montréal during the winter season. Gliding on ice under night skies is a sublime pastime at the Old Port’s idyllic Bonsecours Basin skating rink, a huge open-air surface renowned for its exceptional ice. It features some of the most striking views of Old Montréal and the city skyline in an extremely fun-friendly environment. Each day has a different music theme: classical Mondays, world music Tuesdays, urban sounds Wednesdays, and so on. The ice is open Monday to Wednesday until 9 pm, and Thursday to Sunday until 10 pm. Skate rentals and lockers are available. Many of Montréal’s most beautiful parks also feature night skating along with music, warming stations and/or places to eat and, er, lubricate. The picturesque Parc Lafontaine, Parc Maisonneuve and Beaver Lake on the summit of Mount Royal are all examples of top-tier blading places that typically stay open on the weekends until 10 pm. For locations, skating conditions and other info, please go here. Speaking of the mountain, Mount Royal Park is an outdoor winter sports enthusiast’s dream. In addition to skating, sledding and cross-country skiing – there… / Read More →

Viva les divas! Top 2016 Montréal concerts by all-star divas

[Updated on July 6, 2016] Many great and legendary divas – celebrated female singers from the worlds of opera, pop music and Rock and Roll, not to mention an internationally-beloved throat singer – will headline much-buzzed about concerts in venues across Montréal in 2016. Here are some choice picks for the coming year: Soul singer Lisa Fischer, famed for her multi-octave range and featured back-up singer for, among others, Luther Vandross, Tina Turner and The Rolling Stones, brings her solo show to the Corona Theatre on January 30. British 1970s disco diva Maxine Nightingale (Right Back Where We Started From) headlines the 13th annual Sammy’s Valentines Gala benefitting the Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy Canada Society, at Plaza Volare on February 13. Winner of the 2014 Polaris Music Prize for her album Animism, internationally-acclaimed Nunavut throat singer Tanya Tagaq headlines the Cinquième Salle at Place des Arts on February 19 and 20 during the Montréal en lumière winter festival. Grammy-nominated soul diva Andra Day headlines the Corona Theatre on March 18. The Queens of Sheba Tour features headliner and Montréal favourites Heart – who effectively launched their careers in Montréal when they opened for Rod Stewart at the Forum in 1976 –… / Read More →

Montréal’s star-studded winter-spring 2016 classical music season

Montréal’s winter-spring 2016 cultural season features many all-star concerts for classical music lovers. The return of famed Swiss Maestro Charles Dutoit with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal in the Maison symphonique for two much-anticipated concerts on February 18 and 20 with superstar Argentine pianist Martha Argerich (also former spouse of Dutoit) ranks as one of the most significant cultural events in Montréal in 2016, and is part of MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE. Dutoit, who turns 80 this year, will lead the OSM 14 years after his 24-year tenure as its legendary conductor, a period that witnessed the OSM’s elevation into the ranks of the world’s greatest orchestras. On the program: the overture of Roman Carnival, op. 9 by Berlioz; the Piano Concerto no 1 in C Major, op. 15, by Beethoven; Petrushka (the original 1911 version from) by Stravinsky; and La Valse by Ravel. Other concerts of note presented by the OSM this season include the concert recital Marie-Nicole Lemieux & The French Art of Song, presented in collaboration with Pro Musica at the Maison symphonique de Montréal on April 19, featuring internationally-acclaimed Quebec contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux, who was also appointed to the order of Canada in 2015; and three OSM Pop concerts with famed French entertainer Patrick… / Read More →

10 New Year’s resolutions you’ll keep… in Montréal

Whether we make them every year or we’ve sworn off them for life, New Year’s Resolutions can haunt us – the trick is to make your yearly promises as fun-loving as possible. And since Montréal is decidedly fun-loving, it’s easy to follow through on those quintessential New Year’s resolutions any time of the year. Eat a multi-course meal Eating is necessary to life, whether you’ve made a “lose-weight” resolution or not, and five-course meals aren’t something most of us enjoy every day – so why not dig in to Montréal’s best prix-fixe menus at award-winning hotel and independent gourmet restaurants serving delicious local creations, authentic French food, special late-night menus, and so much more. If you visit in late fall, take advantage of the slashed prices at dozens of restaurants during the MTL à TABLE Montréal restaurant week. If you’re here in February, look for gourmet specials at MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE. And from late February to early April, experience the Québec cabane à sucre sugar shack tradition. Drink the good stuff There’s no time like the present in Montréal to splurge on that cask-aged whiskey or gorgeous bottle of wine you’ve been dreaming about. Taste rare single malts and more… / Read More →

Festive fun for kids this holiday season in Montréal

If you’re visiting Montréal with your family in December, expect to find entertaining seasonal festivities with all the trimmings: Christmas trees and illuminated interactive art, outdoor games and activities, hot chocolate and good food, and, of course, Santa. Treats and presents Lights glitter, friends and family gather, and kids play at Le Grand Marché de Noël de Montréal, a new outdoor winter market right downtown at the Place des Arts Esplanade, December 12 to January 2. Not only a great place to find last-minute locally-made gifts but a joyful event featuring entertainment, music, karaoke and other playful activities for all ages – and plenty to eat and drink, from beaver tails to maple candy. Not far away from Le Grand Marché, see performances, watch films, shop and sample seasonal treats at the Marché de Noël Prince Arthur. And when it’s time for a full sit-down meal, consult our extensive list of kid-friendly restaurants. Winter wonderlands Old Montréal turns into a warmer version of the North Pole during the Merry Montréal celebrations – there’s free hot chocolate, Christmas-themed films, cozy fires and even see Santa Claus at the Christmas market at Place Jacques-Cartier. Peer into the window of Ogilvy department store… / Read More →

Luminothérapie and high-tech creativity light up city life

A ride on an illuminated seesaw while surrounded by storeys-tall video projections may be all you need to get comfortable with Montréal winter this December. The city greets the season with the new glittering creations of annual event Luminothérapie, reflecting just how ahead of the technological curve Montréal is all year, whether in video gaming or art making. The sixth edition of Luminothérapie, held December 10 to January 31, builds on Montréal’s affinity for technological innovation with a distinctly artistic and cultural edge – this year’s event turns Place des Festivals into an interactive-art playground filled with 30 seesaws emitting sound and light. Inspired by Montrealers’ love of outdoor play no matter what the weather, the designers of Impulse – Lateral Office, CS Design and EGP Group – have created a cheerful gathering place in the heart of downtown. Meanwhile, video projections by Montréal-based digital art team Maotik and Iregular transform nearby Théâtre Maisonneuve and UQAM’s President–Kennedy building as well as the Grande Bibliothèque, UQAM bell tower and five more looming facades into screens for gorgeous abstract visuals accompanied by soundtracks by Toronto-based artist Mitchell Akiyama. Luminothérapie grew out of Montréal’s participation in UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network, a global network… / Read More →

MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE leaves the lights on even longer this year

The autumn leaves are barely off the trees, the first flurries have so far only teased, but winter festival MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE is already planning a “blizzard” of arts and entertainment. Their freshly announced programming includes surprises in every corner of performance – music, theatre, dance, circus and more – and some welcome news for those who can’t get enough of Montréal’s cold-weather fun fest. MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE, which annually attracts some 1,300,000 visitors, is already one of the largest winter festivals in the world, and now it will be one of the longest. The 2016 edition jumps from 11 to 17 days, February 18 to March 5, in order for families to take full advantage of the midwinter school break. Also new, as it is every year, is the festival’s featured country or city, and this year MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE will celebrate Shenzhen, China. One of the world’s most rapidly developing urban centers, Shenzhen (population 10 million) is a UNESCO City of Design and a major arts and culture hub, making it a fascinating ambassador for the many Chinese-themed events at the festival. First among these is the Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra – presenting Chinese and European classical works celebrating… / Read More →

See affordable shows on Montréal stages

The curtain goes up and the theatre, dance, circus or comedy show unfolds, its live tension palpable, often unique and unforgettable. In Montréal, that memorable experience doesn’t have to break the bank – all year round, the city’s stages are filled with live shows at affordable prices (some of them are even free!) The city’s biggest and arguably most opulent show venue, Place des Arts, houses six large theatres and several more show spaces right downtown. With shows every night, there’s usually something for every budget. Find inexpensive balcony seats for under $25, as well as student and seniors pricing and matinée deals at the Opéra de Montréal, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal  (OSM) conducted by Kent Nagano, the Orchestre Métropolitain, Les Grands Ballets, Canadian premieres of Broadway productions, and internationally touring dance company shows presented by Danse Danse. Especially watch for shows at Cinquième Salle, which often hosts cutting-edge productions by celebrated choreographers and directors. While theatre in Montréal is often quite affordable as it is, watch for inexpensive shows at the Segal Centre and Centaur Theatre studio and second stages, as well as theatre at the city’s many Maisons de la culture, host to productions by both established and… / Read More →

Things to do in Montreal: February 26 to March 4

Yes, yes, y’all, it’s Nuit Blanche! This Saturday brings with it the best excuse to stay up all night since the last Star Trek marathon on Space TV. Grab your friends and family and hit the streets and cultural centres of the Montréal, open all night and jam-packed with special programming. All-night art The only bad thing about Nuit Blanche is figuring out how to divide your time – there’s just that much to do. The best strategy this Saturday, February 28, is to start with all your favourite places, whether that’s the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Phi Centre, the Olympic Stadium, Fonderie Darling or the Belgo Building, because you’ll get to access them for free. Plus you can be sure they’ll be pulling out all the stops for this special night with unusual and exciting programming, whether that’s live music, workshops, free performances and more. But afterwards, it’s time to discover. Nuit Blanche is really about broadening your perspectives, while having a good time, so an adventurous attitude is de mise. This year you might be tempted by the film screening night at Nouveau Palais restaurant. Or maybe you’ll want to try the all-night collage party at Monastiraki? And,… / Read More →

Nuit Blanche: Montréal’s all-nighter lets your wild side be your guide

A wild night out might include a zip line or an ice slide. Or rock climbing, rock concerts or underground adventures. Maybe a veritable gourmet buffet, nighttime acrobatics or a dance club ski lodge and spa. But what about all of those things, and much more, on one single night? It would have to be, by anyone’s measure, the wildest night of the year. Welcome to Montréal’s Nuit Blanche. Starting on Saturday, February 28 and wrapping up pretty much whenever you want it to wrap up in the morning hours of Sunday, March 1, this 12th edition of Montréal’s “white night” is practically incandescent with activities. Nuit Blanche puts an exclamation point on the city’s MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE winter festival, closing out the annual extravaganza with an all-night citywide party. Some 211 separate activities – 178 of which are absolutely free – will be spread out across three city districts: Old Montréal, most of downtown and the Plateau/Mile End. And don’t worry your head about transportation. Montréal’s metro system will be open all night long, and a free shuttle service (4 routes and 65 stops) connecting the aforementioned districts will run every 10 minutes from 8 pm to 3 am. But more importantly, the fun stuff. Montréal… / Read More →