December in Montreal begins with nothing short of fireworks on Saturday night, along with several other events that light up the city, from outdoor art to Christmas-tree festooned craft fairs – a few stars of comedy and music glitter even in our midst this week too…
(hot shop) Shop for holiday gifts or yourself at the annual souk @ sat art and design fair – it’s hip, it’s cool, it’s very Montreal, with over 100 professional artists and designers selling unique clothing, jewellery, handbags, furniture, home accessories, toys, art and more. The sale happens November 30 to December 2 at the Société des Arts Technologiques downtown, where you can also stop for a bite at their FoodLab restaurant. Find more Quebec-made creations, from clothing to gourmet food, at Le Marché Casse Noisette, also known as The Nutcracker Market, a non-profit market co-organized by Les Grands Ballets Canadiens – it’s one of many of Montreal’s December craft and artisanal fairs. Environmentally conscious shopping meets eco-education and entertainment – including a Green Santa! – at the Recycling-Artists Eco Fair at the Biosphère ecological centre in Parc Jean-Drapeau, November 30-December 2. And in Mile End, check out Marché de Noël du Mile End at Ecole Lambert-Closse (5840 St-Urbain), November 30 until 9 p.m. and December 1, 10am-5pm., featuring food, gifts and more.
(winter wonderlands) Montreal’s first snowfall has come and gone already, but more picturesque snow days are certainly on their way – and with them, winter sports! The huge outdoor skating rink in the Old Port opens December 1 – if you get there before 11 a.m., skate for free! If you get there afterwards, it’s only $6 anyway, with rentals available on site too. Later on December 1, the TELUS Fire on Ice fireworks show lights up the sky over the Old Port starting at 8 p.m. And over at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, wander through an indoor forest of Christmas trees, decorated in different styles with traditional and hand-painted decorations by local associations and cultural groups. Access to the museum’s permanent collections is free at all times, as are the museum’s weekend art workshops and tours for kids and families.
(comedy gold) Some big names in comedy come to Montreal this week, but while Jerry Seinfeld’s December 1 at Place des Arts is sold out, there’s still a chance to see Robin Williams in freewheeling conversation with fellow comedian (and director and author) David Steinberg on December 5 at Place des Arts. Not only is Williams’ career in television, film and on stage on the interview agenda, but so is his personal life – sure to be strange, hilarious and entertaining. On a smaller but just as funny scale, New York City veteran comic Al Lubel treads the Montreal Comedy Works stage November 30 and December 1. And family-friendly circus, musical and epic adventure show Loucho the Clown continues at Theatre Ste-Catherine to December 2.
(immersive art) Montreal lights up throughout the month with Luminotherapie, works of high-tech art located throughout the Quartier des Spectacles in the downtown core. Follow the story of an iceberg in interactive installation Iceberg – human movement actually transforms the physical structure and the sounds within, and look out for the many videos of Le Jour des 8 Soleils, projected on buildings throughout the Quartier. Create a professional self-portrait at the WonderWall collective art project at ArtLab (5524 St-Patrick), all day December 1 and 2 – you don’t need any art experience to be a participant and all materials will be supplied. And the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal holds its Giant Inventory Sale of Musée Publications – all publications are on sale for $2, cash only – December 4-5.
(film lands) At the end of Montreal’s film festival season, we find a celebration: Image+Nation has spent 25 years bringing LGBT films from around the world to Montreal, with plenty of good ones this year too, playing at Cinema du Parc until December 2 – feature length dramas this weekend include Joshua Tree, 1951: A Portrait of James Dean, Nicole Conn’s A Perfect Ending and more. Also at Cinema du Parc is Montreal’s Brazilian film festival, November 30-December 6, featuring premiers of new Brazilian films along with directors present for Q&A sessions after screenings.
(opera & theatre) Opera de Montreal holds its 17th annual Gala fundraiser with some of the companies most adored singers performing arias and ensembles from productions past and present – held at the beautiful new Maison symphonique de Montréal on Sunday, December 2 at 2 p.m. Meanwhile, in theatre, David Lindsay-Abaire’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Good People, set in Boston’s working-class Irish “Southie” neighbourhood, continues at the Centaur to December 6. Contemporary painting gets the dramatic treatment in Red, based on the work and life of artist Mark Rothko, at the Segal Centre to December 16. And live it up with a night of vaudeville on December 6 at the Segal, with live music from Bad Uncle, comedians Mike Paterson, Tim Rabnet and Ryan Wilner, burlesque and circus acts, and more.
(dancing days) The fairytale of Snow White is turned into an urban, dreamy, often funny dance odyssey in Où est Blanche-Neige?, choreographed by Manon Oligny as part of this winter’s Parcours Danse events – see a free performance at Espace culturel Georges-Émile-Lapalme at Place des Arts on December 4 at 5 p.m. and a free performance of Alors, Dansez Maintenant! on December 5 at 11:45 a.m. Persian music and contemporary dance combine in Śūnya, at the Segal Centre on December 1. Dance Cité presents Nancy Leduc’s Projet Harlequin, inspired by reading Harlequin romance novels as a teenager, to December 8 at Théâtre de Quat’sous (100 Pins W.). And up-and-coming dancers perform short pieces at the Bouge d’ici Mash Up, hosted by Miss Sugarpuss on November 30 at Shift Space (1190 St-Antoine W.).
(warm-up music) Back home after European tours, Montreal’s Jonas and the Massive Attraction show off their rock-pop stuff at Club Soda on Friday, November 30. On Saturday, December 1, Montreal musician Ariane Moffatt returns with her bilingual blend of jazz, electro and folk, with electro-pop makers Young Galaxy at the Corona Theatre, while jazz-blues entertainer Leon Redbone is at Sala Rossa – and on a different, but also Montreal-based note, Grim Skunk get their rock-punk-world-beat on at Club Soda. Sunday, December 2 is the right kind of day for the Gospel Celebration 30th Anniversary, featuring the wonderful Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir and special guests at Théâtre Maisonneuve at Place des Arts, 8 p.m. On Monday, December 3, get into the soulful, kind of jazzy, kind of rock music of Rachael Yamagata at Sala. On Tuesday, December 4, it’s NYC folk-pop group Pearl and the Beard at Sala. And on Thursday night, spend an evening with Loreena McKennitt at Place des Arts, or chill out with the Americana-style rock of Band of Horses at Metropolis, or dance to the electro-beat of Diamond Rings and Mozart’s Sister at Sala.