Montreal is in full festive mode this week, with Christmas lights twinkling throughout the city, not to mention fireworks shows, a candle-lit parade, and illuminated outdoor artwork. There’s also plenty of good food, family friendly entertainment, great arty shopping, holiday music and let-loose rock n’ roll…
(outdoor sparkle) While the Old Port lights up to musical accompaniment every Saturday night at 8 p.m. for December’s Telus Fire on Ice fireworks show, the Noël sur l’avenue Mont-Royal brightens up a long stretch of shop-and-restaurant-rich Mont-Royal Avenue, beginning with a joyful, candle-lit parade on December 8, starting at Mont-Royal Metro at 7 p.m. and ending at Parc Lafontaine with choirs singing, music playing and fireworks too! And throughout the month, kids and adults alike can take part in all kinds of activities, including a tree decoration workshop, December 9 at Place Gérald-Godin. And over at the beautiful Montreal Botanical Gardens, the main greenhouse is decked out for the holiday season with lights, new plant life, choir performances on weekend afternoons, and a craft fair December 7-9.
(glimmering gifts) Find professionally handmade and unique gifts at Montreal’s craft and artisanal fairs this weekend. Over 400 Quebec artists and artisans offer clothing, toys, food and much more at Salon des métiers d’art, downtown at Place Bonaventure to December 22 – Santa even drops by every Saturday afternoon. Find more creative gifts at the festive Le Marché Casse Noisette, co-organized by Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, on until December 9 at the Palais des congrès de Montréal. Designers, artists and other creative types set up mini-boutiques at the hip, cool Smart Design Mart, December 7-9 at 5505 Casgrain, in Mile End. Also in the neighbourhood is the Old Skool Crafts Holiday Fair, at L’Église St-Michel (105 St-Viateur W.) – it continues next weekend too, rivalling the new-skool at Puces Pop DIY & Craft Fair. And head east to Haut & Fort Noël Market at Marché St-Jacques (2nd floor, 1125 Ontario East).
(fancy food & drink) December is a time to indulge in social delights and delicious things – both are plentiful at FoodLab this month as the restaurant, located in cutting-edge multimedia centre le SAT, offers a “Grandes tablées” menu of Québécois terroir: December 10-13 try the Terrine De Gibier & Pot-Au-Feu, plus appetizers and desserts, all for $45 a person. Or warm up in nearby Chinatown with a steaming bowl of cheap and cheerful pho soup. Later, get cozy with friends and friendly Montrealers at any one of the city’s neighbourhood brew pubs.
(art & sound) Family friendly activities abound in December, including entertaining, interactive art around the city: downtown at the Quartier des Spectacles, walk through and play with musical installation Iceberg and see several large-scale projections on buildings along Sainte-Catherine and de Maisonneuve, all part of Luminothérapie. It’s also worth the trip to Maison de la Culture Maisonneuve to make your own music inside The Improbable Igloo, an igloo-shaped dome made of speakers by artist Alexis O’Hara, on until December 20. And fans of the band Sigur Ros won’t want to miss a screening of Sigur Ros: Valtari Film Experiment at the Phi Centre on December 9.
(comedy & theatre) Comedian Jeff Dunham’s show on December 9 at the Bell Centre is sure to be funny and strange and puppet-filled, just like Christmas, right? Later in the week, check out the hilarious DeAnne Smith headlining and Al Lafrance hosting “giftalicious” stand-up comedy show Let’s Do This! – it costs a mere $5 or a wrapped present if you want to be a part of a wacky gift exchange – at Mainline Theatre, December 13. Children’s theatre experts Geordie Productions add entertaining new twists to the classic tale of Robin Hood, December 7-16 at the Centaur Theatre. And for more traditional holiday theatre there’s Les Grands Ballets The Nutcracker, December 13-30 at Place des Arts.
(classical tunes) The sounds of Christmas are writ large when The Montreal Symphony Orchestra teams up with the Montreal Bach Festival to present Bach’s Christmas Oratorio performed by internationally renowned Collegium Vocale Gent, December 12-13. On December 8, The Orchestre Métropolitain performs Bruckner’s Symphony No. 6, while on Saturday and Sunday afternoon, Les Choralies Christmas concerts find harmony at Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours in Old Montreal. Le Choeur Gospel Célébration sings its Noël Divin program of Christmas and holiday-themed music at The Gesù on December 9. And at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts on December 9, the Cantivo Vocal Ensemble gives a performance free of charge and on December 12, soprano Hélène Guilmette sing cantatas and traditional songs.
(rock n’ roll) Friday night brings much-loved Australian multi-instrumentalist Xavier Rudd to Metropolis and Loreena McKennitt to Place des Arts, while the skyrocketing love for the indie-rock of Half Moon Run peaks at Le National, Alaclair Ensemble adds hip hop to modern art at the MACM, and Keys N Krates’ electro-hip-hop fills the dancefloor at Le Belmont. More dancing is in store with electronic music producer Jacques Greene, Doldrums and more live on Saturday night at the SAT. Sunday, December 9 sees The Faint playing their album Danse Macabre, with Trust opening, at Club Soda. Since Monday is the new Friday, why not make a night of it with NYC’s St. Lucia at Divan Orange on December 10. On Tuesday, Rock and swoon to the electro-orchestral-tinged sound of The Breezes, with Montreal’s CFCF at Sala Rossa.