Montreal is truly nothing less than bright and colourful this week: outdoors with fireworks, street parties (and even street snowboarding!), interactive art and Christmas trees to decorate, and indoors with circuses, pro sports, craft fairs, theatre, Christmas concerts and rock shows…
(light up the town) The Telus Fire on Ice fireworks go off with a bang on Saturday night in the Old Port, while Noël sur l’avenue makes shopping and dining along Mont Royal Avenue all the more festive with concerts, family friendly activities and more all weekend. Downtown at the Quartier des Spectacles, play with outdoor interactive musical installation Iceberg, part of Luminothérapie exhibition. And the Olympic Parc celebrates the grand opening of their winter site on December 15: from 11:30-8 p.m., help decorate their 15-metre Christmas tree, visit with Santa, and partake of gourmet treats from some of the city’s best food trucks.
(circus lights) Cirque du Soleil’s colourful, musical Saltimbanco fits right in with the festive season and delights with all kinds of acrobatics, juggling, feats of strength and stamina, and, of course, tension-diffusing clowns. Cirque returns home this month to mark the final run for the company’s longest-running show – 20 years! – see it December 19-30 at the Bell Centre, with behind-the-scenes packages available for some shows. On another musical circus note, Cirque Alphonse’s Timber! takes place in a forest full of lumberjack acrobats, clowns and family-friendly comedy – December 18-31 at Montreal’s one-and-only circus centre, Tohu.
(gift giving) Sometimes it’s just easier to shop in a town that isn’t your own. Take some of the pressure off gift buying by stopping in at some of Montreal’s hot, variety-packed craft and artisanal fairs. The Pop Montreal music festival puts on hip and super cute Puces Pop DIY & Craft Fair December 14-16 with an opening party on Friday evening, at Église Saint-Enfant-Jésus (5035 St-Dominique). The biggest fair of its kind in Canada, Salon des métiers d’art continues to December 22 with over 400 Quebec artists and artisans selling clothing, toys, food and much more at Place Bonaventure – see Santa every Saturday afternoon. And the smaller Old Skool Crafts Holiday Fair sees local craftspeople bringing their quality handmade goods to L’Église St-Michel (105 St-Viateur W.) on Saturday and Sunday.
(sounds of Christmas) Classical music and traditional Christmas songs fill December’s days and nights. Notre-Dame Basilica hosts the Montreal Symphony Orchestra performing Hector Berlioz’s L’Enfance du Christ with Kent Nagano conducting, December 19-20, and on December 14-15 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., eight Quebecois singers sing traditional Christmas songs for the Les Stars chantent Noël. On December 16 at the Gesù hear the French 18th century organ music of Les douze Noëls pour orgue de Louis-Claude Daquin. Québec writer Bryan Perro tells a magical, Christmassy tale of two villages as the Montreal Symphony Orchestra accompanies, December 14-15 at Maison symphonique de Montréal. And at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Bourgie Hall, soprano Suzie LeBlanc sings a traditional concert of Advent music, with violinist, organist and conductor on December 16 at 3 p.m.
(sights on stage) The traditional December run of Les Grands Ballets’ The Nutcracker continues to December 30 at Place des Arts, while there are only a few days left to catch Robin Hood, as staged by children’s theatre experts Geordie Productions, at the Centaur Theatre in Old Montreal (453 St-Francois-Xavier). If you’ve been waiting years for Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol to be turned into a 14-song musical, well, that dream is now a reality, at Theatre Rialto on December 14. And critically lauded play Red , about the life and art of Mark Rothko, continues at the Segal Centre to December 16.
(sports on ice) Get your hockey fix at CWHL fundraiser game Les Boys (NHL alumni and stars of the Les Boys television series) vs. Les Girls (Montreal’s national championship team The Stars, featuring Olympic players) on Saturday, December 15, 1 p.m. at Etienne Desmarteau arena (3430 Bellechasse). Canada’s other official sport takes over the Bell Centre this Saturday: National Lacrosse League teams Toronto Rock and Rochester Knighthawks face off. And ski and snowboard freestylers literally take to the street for Amnesia Shack Attack on December 15 starting at 7 p.m. – see tricks, jumps and more on St-Denis between Sherbrooke and Ontario.
(more music) Montreal’s live music scene is feeling the holiday party vibe this weekend. Get along with the locals on Friday night with Mac Demarco, Each Other, Freelove Fenner and DJ Cadence Weapon At Il Motore (179 Jean-Talon W.). On Saturday night, Swiss folk-metal band Eluveitie loudly zooms into town with Wintersun and Varg at Club Soda, and rock-dance it up with Mark Sultan and Lunar Exile, at Casa Del Popolo (4873 St-Laurent). On December 16, get closer with indie-pop cool kids Tegan & Sara at Metropolis, while American hip hop artist Machine Gun Kelly brings his rapid-fire vocal ways to Club Soda. Artist centre Easter Bloc brings together international sound artists and experimental musicians to perform, record and discuss their work in Object Inusité, December 19-22, with opening night performances December 19 at 7 p.m. And on December 20, get into a little American country music with Drew Womack and his band Sons of the Desert at Sala Rossa.