The month of January is not typically one for travel into northern climes, but Montreal has changed many a traveler’s mind with world-class entertainment, glittering nights out (including New Year’s Eve!), and warm, cozy places to relax…
(New Year’s Eve) Montreal’s long-time reputation as a party town is based almost entirely on fact, with a few tall tales thrown in to keep people guessing – and New Year’s Eve always has the potential to be the stuff of legend. Sure, NYE isn’t technically in January, but its after-effects usually continue for at least a day or three, so consider the Montreal Buzz Guide to New Year’s Eve 2012, a key to starting the month out right. Whatever your style, the guide has a suggestion: dinners out, fun with the family, big parties, small parties, dancing and romancing.
(snow city) Montreal’s Snow Village, the first and only of its kind in North America, steps it up another notch this year to bring a bit of New York City into the wintry mix. The Snow Village still has a giant snow slide and other outdoor activities, hot tubs, a heated igloo, a fully equipped hotel and restaurant, and more, but with a few big-city twists. The site, located in Parc Jean-Drapeau just across the water from the city centre, officially opens January 18, but the bar and restaurant, along with many activities – including a train ride and snow sculpture workshops for kids – will be open starting January 4. And there’s more to do in the snow at the outdoor skating rink in the Old Port, open all winter with rentals available on site, and over at the Olympic Park Winter Village.
(on-stage spectacle) Live theatre and dance is big in Montreal, especially during the winter months, with visiting troupes and local companies taking the city’s stages. World-wide award-winning hit Billy Elliot: The Musical comes to Montreal for eight shows January 8-13 at Place des Arts – based on the film of the same name, the show tells the story of a young British boy who dreams of becoming a dancer. Beautiful City Theatre puts on rock-musical classic Godspell, The Musical, January 24-26 and 31 at Centaur Theatre in Old Montreal. On a smaller scale, Centaur Theatre’s Wildside Festival showcases plays that are a little off the beaten track – and always entertaining – January 3-13. In dance, Danse Danse brings us La Otra Orilla, a new flamenco show from dancer/choreographer Myriam Allard and singer Hedi Graja, at Cinquième Salle January 16-26. Contemporary dance is always on the program for L’Agora de la danse, celebrating the 10th anniversary of Andrew de Lotbinière Harwood’s Discovery bal January 11-12 and choreographer Marie Béland’s Bleu-Vert-Rouge January 23-26.
(spa zone) Warm up in January at one of Montreal’s fabulous spas, such as beautiful Bota Bota, located on a refurbished boat on the St-Lawrence River just steps from Old Montreal, tranquil Spa Scandinave in the heart of the old city, or head over to the thermal waters and Finnish saunas of Strøm Spa Nordic located on Ile-des-Soeurs – they even have a Night Under the Stars late-night spa/nightclub event. Wherever you are in Montreal, there’s a spa close by, whether in Old Montreal, downtown or in the nearby Plateau neighbourhood.
(dancing on ice) Get your groove on at Igloofest, Montreal’s one-of-a-kind outdoor electronic music festival, spanning four weeks this year, with big-name music talent, awesome visuals and crowds ready to dance the night away. Igloofest goes down every Thursday to Saturday night from January 17 to February 9 at Jacques-Cartier Quay in the Old Port, kicking off with none other than Sasha on the main Sapporo stage and running strong from there with house, dubstep and all kinds of electronic music in between and beyond.
(educational fun) Science and music combine in Musik: From Sound to Emotion a cool, kid-friendly, hands-on exhibition about how music works on our minds and bodies, featuring videos from pop-punk band Simple Plan and an opportunity to create a personal composition, at the Montreal Science Centre until March 10. Watch Montreal history unfold and see rare artifacts from Richard Béliveau’s vast collection of samurai armour, weapons and more at Pointe-à-Callière, the Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History – where if the temperature drops below zero degrees celsius, visitors get an equal percentage off the admission price throughout January and February!
(out-there art world) Montreal’s high-tech art, culture and education centre, Society for Art and Technology (SAT) opens its state-of-the-art, surround sound-and-image Satosphere to new media artist Rocco Helmchen and composer Johannes Kraas, who show their panoramic symphonic audio-visual show Chaos and Order, every night from January 15 to February 22 – an immersive work of art that uses fractals, geometric forms and chaos theory to blur the edges of reality, mathematics and the imagination.
(live music) As always, Montreal has a packed live music schedule. Among the bigger names this month are popular hardcore rock band Quicksand, playing January 8 at at the Corona Theatre, followed at the same venue by the greatness of The Walkmen and Father John Misty on January 15, and All Time Low, Yellowcard and Fireworks on January 16. On January 10, Montreal indie-pop-rock band Purity Ring prooves why they’ve gotten so much hype, with Young Magic, at Le National (1220 Ste-Catherine E.). Wakey Wakey raise the roof with rollicking love songs at Cabaret du Mile End (5240 Parc) on January 24. British electro-pop singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding comes to Montreal with St.Lucia on January 26, while Reel Big Fish brings a good ol’ time to Theatre Corona Virgin Mobile, and The Harley Show revs its engines with motorcycle mania and rock n’ roll at the Bell Centre. On January 28, still going strong in his own special way, Marilyn Manson takes the stage at Metropolis. And rock n’ roll nostalgia is in full force at The Queen Extravaganza at the Bell Centre on January 30.