Never fear, Montréal en lumière is here!

Spring is peeking over the horizon and Montréal en lumière has come to rattle winter’s hermits out of hibernation and remind them of all that the city has to offer.
Time to get out of bed, put your pants back on and quit staring at that stalled stream of Battlestar Galactica. The persecution of Internet pirates is in full swing and access to gratuitous new music may be waning, but Montreal’s got you covered.
Now in its 13th year, Montréal en lumière has become one of the largest winter festivals on the planet, tempting over 900,000 to indulge in cultural fusion.
This year, the festival introduces the RBC Dome, a free outdoor site that transforms the Quartier des spectacles into an urban playground. The site features light displays, food and wine tastings, an illuminated Ferris wheel, performances by Bran Van 3000, Miracle Fortress, Stefie Shock, and DJs spinning nightly—all complimentary.
Impressed? It doesn’t end there.
As one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, Montreal is difficult to take by surprise. The festival’s organizers have scoured the Earth to bring the city something new.
“We pick a different country every year and invite some of its artists to perform at Montréal en lumière,” explained Laurent Saulnier, the festival’s vice-president of planning and production. “This year we invited Belgium.”
Performing at Metropolis is Stromae, whose club hit “Alors on danse” has been remixed by Kanye West and clung to number one on European charts for weeks. The Experimental Tropic Blues Band will crank up the punk rock blues and My Little Cheap Dictaphone will bring alternative rock in the vein of Arcade Fire and Radiohead.
“We are always looking for new things, not for exclusivity, but for premieres,” said Saulnier, explaining how artists are selected. “We ask for special projects, something different.”
Six beloved Québécois artists chose to wait to debut their latest material at homecoming shows throughout the ten days of the festival. Diane Tell, France D’Amour, Marie-Denise Pelletier, Antoine Gratton, Catherine Major and Brigitte Boisjoli will headline and perform songs from their new albums. Cœur de pirate and The Barr Brothers will also step off their cross-country tours to return to the city where they got their start.
Theophilus London, for me, is one of the best new artists from the U.S.,” said Saulnier. Checking out his show is an absolute must.”
Nuit blanche, the “all-night” highlight of Montréal en lumière, is so jam-packed with events all over the city that it’s an entirely different festival of its own. Nuit blanche, originating in Paris in 2002, is a city’s nocturnal celebration of its culture through the allowance of public space for performances, art installations, social gatherings and more.
“All other versions of Nuit blanche all over the world are more focused on contemporary art, but the specialty of the Nuit blanche in Montreal is it’s a real party here in town,” said Saulnier. “It’s about music, dance, theatre and even sports.”
On Feb. 25, Nuit blanche will take over the streets of Plateau Mont-Royal, Mile End, Old Montreal, Place des Arts and the Olympic Park. With over 175 events, it is the busiest night of Montréal en lumière, and it gets more frenetic every year. Conveniently, the metro will be open all night long, a free shuttle bus will circulate between venues, and there will be plenty of Porta-Potties. Plus, there’s a smartphone app to help you digest the slew of times, locations and events.
At Nuit blanche, events are usually free of charge, so prepare for line-ups.
“The best parties in town will be at Club Soda and Metropolis,” hinted Saulnier. “It’s cool because the venues are very close, so you can walk from one place to another.”
Save the midterm sweat for Karnival, an annual Nuit blanche party hosted by Poirier and his guest DJs at Club Soda. If you’re hankering for a thrashin’, Fucked Up is playing its Polaris Prize-shortlisted album, David Comes to Life, in full after a surprise guest at Metropolis and Bran Van 3000 will be “Drinking in L.A.” on the RBC Dome stage while DJ Mini will be spinning on the side.
It’s reading week; you aren’t searing on a beach somewhere, you’re praying for your tax return, and your sink is crammed full of dirty People’s Potato tupperware.
Escape…to Montreal!


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