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How to celebrate a Victorian Christmas in Montréal

Did you know that much of how we traditionally celebrate Christmas today has origins in Victorian Britain? In fact, at the beginning of the 19th century, Christmas was barely celebrated in England and her colonies—many businesses didn’t even recognize it as a holiday! “Bah, Humbug!” indeed. But by the dawn of the new century, Christmas had evolved into the massive celebration as we’ve come to know it. So as a nod to the origins of our modern yuletide celebrations, we invite you to discover some Victorian Christmas treats hidden around Montréal. A Victorian Christmas From November 21 until December 20, immerse yourself in the magic of a Victorian Christmas at the Sir George-Étienne Cartier National Historic Site in Old Montréal. Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday, visitors will be transported back to a 19th century home in the midst of mirthful holiday preparations. Discover the origins of many modern Christmas traditions as you wander opulently decorated rooms and warm up with some festive old-fashioned hot drinks. More activities include storytelling for children, a card and decoration workshop, and clips showcasing origins on Victorian Christmas. Sir George-Étienne Cartier National Historic Site: 458 Notre-Dame Street East On… / Read More →

A traditional holiday shopping guide to Montréal

If you’re doing your holiday gift shopping in Montréal, you’ve certainly got plenty of options, from Sainte-Catherine Street brand-name shops to the local creativity of artisanal craft fairs. But if you’re specifically looking for that “holiday spirit” or “Christmas-y feeling” or “winter wonderland” in uniquely-Montréal retail form, read on. New this year, Le Grand Marché de Noël de Montréal turns the Place des Arts esplanade into a charming outdoor Christmas and winter market, blending traditions from around the world. Gourmet food and drink – be sure to try the homemade, locally-produced goodies from Labonté de la pomme Verger & Miellerie – as well as free live shows and outdoor activities complete the experience, December 12 to January 2. Also new to the outdoor holiday market scene this year and not far from Place des Arts, the cheery and festive Marché de Noël Prince Arthur lights up Rue Prince Arthur at the corner of Boulevard St-Laurent, December 2 to 23. Expect to find unique handmade items, tree ornaments and Christmas trees, along with snacks, mulled wine and hot cider, sing-along carolling and outdoor film screenings. While Montréal is already in the habit of celebrating great food and drink all year, Happy… / Read More →

Get the star treatment at Montréal’s boutique hotels

The kind of luxury reserved to a boutique hotel is all about the particulars – the property’s aesthetic, the amenities, the unique touches that are offered only there. Treat yourself to the personalized experiences hidden all over the downtown core, at Montréal’s beautiful boutique hotels, and start building lifelong travel memories. Le Place d’Armes Hôtel & Suites Located a few steps away from the Notre-Dame Cathedral, this Old Montréal hotel in a stunningly retrofitted 19th century building has a lively nightlife at Suite 707 and the rooftop bar, plus Japanese dining at the Kyo Bar Japonais. The great perks for guests include free wine and cheese tastings. Hôtel Nelligan On St-Paul in the heart of Old Montréal, this property boasts one of the city’s most stunning views from the rooftop deck. Settle in for an outdoor tête à tête in the summer, or in cooler months, sink deep into one of the armchairs in the lobby or the happening eatery, Méchant Boeuf. Reserve a room with a view onto the impressive Atrium. Auberge du Vieux Port Another hotel with a fantastic rooftop! Because of its location facing the St-Lawrence River and the Old Port, nothing beats watching the weekly fireworks… / 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 →

10 Montréal “Musts” For First-Time Visitors

A first-time visit to any city can be overwhelming. What to see? What to do? And most importantly — how to prioritize it all?  To simplify your initial Montréal visit, we’ve compiled a simple list of crowd-pleasin’ attractions. Think of it as a “greatest hits” list of what to see and do in a diverse and exciting city. In no particular order, here are ten activities and attractions that first-time Montréal visitors might want to put on their “must see” list. Climb Mount Royal (The Lookout) Designed by Frederick Law Olmstead (the same landscape architect who crafted New York’s Central Park), the “mountain” park at the heart of the city is the city’s most iconic landmark — and the most popular place to snap a Montréal selfie. Reach the viewpoint at the top of Mount Royal Park by walking up the stairs or with a guided tour. In the chalet at the summit, visitors will find washrooms and a small canteen for refreshments. Give yourself a breezy two hours. Spree on St-Catherine As one of the longest commercial strips in Canada, Sainte-Catherine Street is the perfect place for retail rehabilitation. You’ll find international fashion mainstays such as Gap, Victoria’s Secret… / Read More →

Get ready for Montréal’s delicious Festival YUL EAT this September!

The second edition of Festival YUL EAT is coming to Old Montréal on Labour Day weekend (September 5, 6 and 7) and promises to be bigger and better than the first time around, not to mention absolutely delicious! Access to the main site at the Old Port’s Clock Tower Quay is free and allows for three glorious days rubbing elbows with Québec’s best chefs, producers and food providers. You’ll be able to discover and taste some of the products that make the province’s gastronomy offering so unique, and chat away with the purveyors who work tirelessly to keep us all well fed. Exclusive and original meals, a farmer’s market, street food, culinary workshops, and food-centric conferences are all on the menu of what promises to be one of the best food festivals Montréal has ever seen. Eat, discover and party at Festival YUL EAT presented by Evenko and Productions Premiers Vendredis! EAT YUL BRUNCH Start each festival day with your choice of any (or all!) of three collaborative brunches bringing together chefs and their assigned food trucksfor the event. Saturday, September 5 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Guest Chefs: Jason Morris, Restaurant Le Fantôme / Benoit Lenglet, Au Cinquième Péché… / Read More →

Meet a Montrealer: Nick Farkas

As cofounder of festivals Osheaga, Ile Soniq, Heavy MTL and, starting this September, YUL EAT, Nick Farkas never stops. The only downside to his culturally immersed life is that sometimes, he’s too busy to enjoy other people’s events, like Just For Laughs and the Rogers Cup! This is how he experiences Montréal. Job: Vice President, Concert and Events, Evenko. Favourite pastime: Listening to music. How long have you been a Montrealer? Since 1970, when I was 5 years old. My parents came from Hamilton. What’s the coolest thing you’ve done so far this year? Osheaga this weekend! The next three weekends of festivals, with Osheaga followed by Heavy Montréal and then Ile Soniq, are our busiest time in the year. What’s the next big thing you’re planning? We’re doing a new festival called YUL EAT in Old Montreal, near the Clock Tower, in the beginning of September, over Labour Day weekend. In the midst of doing our other three festivals and the 13,000 shows we do a year, the team decided it was time to do another festival. Tons of chefs, cooking classes, brunches, dinners, free concerts and more. What’s your favourite thing about organizing events? Definitely seeing the reaction… / Read More →

Montréal en Histoires unveils multimedia historical walking tour

Montréal en Histoires is a large-scale multimedia project celebrating the rich history of Montréal. It highlights the riveting drama of crucial turning points in the city’s history – such as the 1849 fire that destroyed Canada’s pre-Confederation Parliament Buildings in Montréal – and the human stories of such local sports icons as Maurice Richard and Jackie Robinson. Original vignettes and short movies with characters in historical dress are projected on trees, streets and buildings while viewers are able to access audio via a free mobile application that provides dramatic, descriptive and musical content. “This project will enable Montrealers to reacquaint themselves with their own history, but it will also engage tourists,” says Martin Laviolette, founder and executive producer of non-profit historical society Montréal en Histoires. “There are so many things to do in Montréal year-round, but locals and tourists all enjoy wandering through the cobbled streets of Old Montréal. Each stop on our free do-it-yourself Montréal en Histoires tour lasts about two-to-three minutes.” The $11-million Montréal en Histoires is made up of three projects as the city prepares to celebrate its 375th anniversary in 2017: 1) the Montréal en Histoires free self-guided historical walking tour application for smart phones and… / Read More →

Meet a Montrealer: Julie Gilbert, Owner of Ô Deux Sœurs

Special collaboration with Florence Gagnon, president and founder of Lez Spread the Word Ô Deux Sœurs (which loosely translates as “At the two sisters”) is a restaurant, a caterer and an organic grocery store that has hung out its shingle on Rosemont Boulevard for five years now. Owner Julie Gilbert and her team have made it their mission to continually reinvent the pleasures of eating, adding a philanthropic twist by offering their customers quality food at affordable prices. With its “comfort food” style cuisine using local products, Ô Deux Sœurs also offers vegetarian, organic and gluten-free variations on its menu. On weekdays, you can select from the table d’hôte menu for lunch and dinner. On weekends, the restaurant serves up a sumptuous gourmet brunch. You’ll also find a list of delicious sandwiches, salads, desserts and beverages that are served all day long. As well, their new selection of coffee and a variety of prepared meals are always available on-site. For the past two years, the restaurant has been on a roll – literally – with the Ô Sœurs Volantes food truck, which dishes out equal parts salads in tortillas, meatball dishes and satisfied smiles. Ô Sœurs Volantes hits the road… / Read More →

On the Run! Great Jogging Trails from Amazing Montréal Hotels

If your starting line is: The Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth Few hotels around the world can boast a Running Concierge, but then again, few hotel chains dedicate as much thought to fitness as Fairmont does. (Try their fitness-gear rental program – it’s so handy!) At the Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth in the heart of downtown Montréal, every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 6:30 am between May and late September, the lobby fills with avid runners led by Vicki Findley, Convention & Catering Services Manager in addition to being the Running Concierge. She and her colleagues – all marathoners or triathletes – combine the best of both worlds: fitness and exploration of this gorgeous city and its assets. “As we run, we give information about the hotel and the city,” explains Findley. “It starts out chatty, but as we go and the breathing gets heavier, it tends to get a bit more quiet!” Among the three jogging routes offered, the most popular is the 7 km downtown/Plateau run. The group goes up McGill, then runs into the McGill University campus to the exit on Milton. They continue east on Milton, until St-Laurent; then go north up to Prince Arthur. From there,… / Read More →