Montréal pairs Valentine’s sparkle with glittering winter entertainment this week – the city’s top restaurants and hotels ready for romance, and the MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE winter festival kicks off, along with inspiring international ballet, contemporary dance, art, theatre, film and live music.
Winter, spring, summer or fall, we’re counting the ways Montréal warms our hearts – and this week’s kickoff of massive winter festival MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE has us all fired up. Opening Thursday, February 18, the family-friendly festival’s free outdoor site entertains with multimedia shows, ice slides, a Ferris wheel, fabulous food and more, while indoors see dozens of musicians and performers, including Swiss Maestro Charles Dutoit and Argentine pianist Martha Argerich with the Montréal Symphony Orchestra at Place des Arts February 18 and 20. Day or night, 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. Also near the Olympic Park, the wonders of the natural world await at the Space For Life, home to the Biodôme, Botanical Garden and Planetarium – the Botanical Garden’s Butterflies Go Free exhibit opens February 18, this year butterflies share the spotlight with furry caterpillars.
Valentine’s days and nights
Romance is always in the air in Montréal but this week it’s in high gear – whether you’re looking for classic or trendy Valentine’s gifts, perfectly romantic restaurants and hotels, late-night dancing or a sporty getaway, we’ve got tips on romance for all in Montréal. Proving that Valentine’s Day isn’t just for couples, these wicked winter bars have everyone feeling cozy and warm when it’s cold outside. If you’re here to party like it’s already spring, start with our Guide to Spring Break Montréal Style. And feel the heat of Mexico no matter what the weather here with our guide to where to eat tacos in Montréal.
Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal welcomes the Shanghai Ballet in a dazzling performance of Coppélia, the story of a boy lovestruck by a silhouette, choreographed by Pierre Lacotte, at Place des Arts, February 18 to 21. Step into the awe-inspiring 360-degree film and sound experience Versus, by Franco-Japanese duo Nonotak at the SAT on February 12. Also at the SAT, let yourself be transported northward by Résonances Boréales, an immersive northern lights show accompanied by Roman Zavada on piano, starting February 18. Montréal’s winter dance calendar and English-language theatre scene includes incredible, creative and technologically inclined performers at international Festival Temps d’Images. Czech choreographer Eva Kolarova teams up with videographer Nasuna Stuart-Ulin and composer Karl Turpin in Fragmented Mind, exploring the line between reality and the illusory, at Cinquième Salle, February 12 and 13. In theatre, see the premier of mysterious drama On This Day at Centaur Theatre, The Secret Annex, a reimagining of the life of Anne Frank if she survived the war and moved to New York, at the Segal Centre to February 21, Black History Month’s presentation of Binti’s Journey, about the young star of popular Malawi radio program Gogo’s Family, and Persephone Productions’ staging of Herman Melville’s classic Moby Dick, at the Studio Jean-Valcourt du Conservatoire to February 21.
Art and history
In the first major Canadian exhibition of his work, Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson explores contemporary culture and long-form performance through theatre, music, sculpture and the visual arts in a new exhibition at the Musée d’art Contemporain de Montréal, opening February 11. Discover the lost Roman city of Pompeii at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, showcasing more than 220 art works from the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli dating back to 79 A.D. – plus Mathieu Beauséjour’s The Shapes of Politics show and educational exhibition The Art of Being Unique by Maxwell Bitton, a young painter with autism. Québec history is told through archeology at the Pointe-a-Callière museum’s new Fragments of Humanity exhibition. Discover the musical mastery of 12 inspiring women in the Black Muses exhibition, part of Black History Month, to February 28 at the Salle d’exposition at Place des Arts. See more free art exhibitions at galleries located throughout the Quartier des Spectacles all month. And the Phi Centre screens a series of new and acclaimed international films all week while Bar le Ritz P.D.B. puts Bladerunner up on the big screen on February 15.
Get your dose of dramatic, genre-defying cello music with duo 2CELLOS, playing February 12 at Place des Arts. Meanwhile at Place des Arts’ Maison symphonique, Bernard Labadie conducts Les Violons du Roy and vocalists in a Mozart concert, and Montréal musicians of Le Grand Rendez-Vous des Rythmes du Monde hold free performances at Place des Arts’ Espace culturel Georges-Émile-Lapalme. Also on Friday night, Dominican singer and songwriter Juan Luis Guerra holds fort at L’Olympia, araabMUZIK conjures the dance floor at Le Belmont, and German electronic duo Cosmic Gate get wild at New City Gas. Keep dancing on Saturday with electro-pop artist TR/ST at Théâtre Fairmount, Miss Kitten at Newspeak, disco-house man Benny Bennasi at New City Gas, and one of the city’s favourite DJ teams The Goods at the Rialto Theatre. On Sunday, share the love of music at the Passovah Valentine’s Lovedown at Bar le Ritz P.D.B. with dozens of bands playing their hearts out. Canadian pianist Marc-André Hamelin plays the First Piano Concerto by Liszt with The Budapest Festival Orchestra at Places des Arts on February 16. On February 17, Canadian country musician Corb Lund plays Théâtre Fairmount and Lakes of Canada make music for a memorable night at Petit Campus. MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE presents Toronto singer and harpist Basia Bulat with opener John Jacob Magistery at Club Soda February 18, as well as local indie-folk stars Thus: Owls at Le Gesù. Also on Thursday, Chicago shoegazers Disappears and locals Big Brave play Bar le Ritz P.D.B. and Young Galaxy takes us into the outer realms of electro-pop at Théâtre Fairmount.