15 things to do this March

Didn’t get to do all the winter activities you wanted? Well you will surely find something to do this March

1. Montreal en Lumière                                       

What: Montreal en Lumière offers tons of activities. Anything from free shows, art tutorials, a skating rink and even a Ferris wheel. There is something to do for everyone. 

When:  February 16 – March 5 

Where: Quartier des Spectacles 

2. Garden of Oddness   

What: The learning doesn’t stop just because you’re on break. Montreal’s Botanical Garden has set up a space where you can learn about carnivorous plants.                                       

When: February 22 – April 30                                                   

Where: Montreal Botanical Gardens

3. Apik

What: Picture this: hitting the slopes, but close to home. Apik brings winter activities, such as a snowboarding circuit and ski completions, to the heart of Montreal.  

When: February 24 – March 5          

Where: Quartier Latin                      

4. Festival Casteliers                                               

What: A festival that looks at and displays puppeteering from all around the world. You can attend shows and tutorials, as well as take a look behind the scenes.       

When: March 1 – March 5                                                                       

Where: Théâtre Outremont, International House of Puppetry (MIAM)

5. Happening Gourmand                                  

What: It’s the 15th edition of this Montreal Food festival. Happening Gourmand puts some of the Old Port’s best restaurants on display with prices that are affordable.                                

When: March 2 – April 2                                                         

Where: Visit their website for participating restaurants across the Old Port

6. Festival Soleil d’hiver Montréal                                             

What:  Looking to escape the winter cold without going far? The Soleil d’hiver festival brings a bit of those warm tropical destinations to Montreal. You can enjoy food, cocktails, music and more.                                                                                

When: March 3 – March 5                                                             

Where: Marché Bonsecours  

7. Study Abroad Fair                      

What: Meet with university graduate schools and other groups. They can answer your questions and help you plan a semester abroad.                         

When: March 4 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.                                                 

Where: Palais des congrès 

8. Cabaret de Cirque                                     

What: A show filled with acrobats and stunts themed around the “multiple facets of this city.”                                                                   

When: March 9 – March 25                                                               

Where: Centre St Jax 

9. Bikini Bottom Rave           

What: Have you ever wondered what it would be like to party in Bikini Bottom? Check out this Spongebob SquarePants themed rave to find out.                                                                      When: March 10                                                                  

Where: Corona Theatre 

10. ZEM Social                           

What: Have you ever heard of Brazilian Zouk? Head on down to Montreal’s ZEM Social to learn, practice and dance the Zouk way.           

When: March 18 from 8 p.m. – 1 a.m.                                                        

Where: Station Clark – Danse & Fitness

11. Art Souterrain                                              

What: A free interactive art festival that features different installations placed along a route made in Montreal’s underground city.                                                                   

When: March 18 – April 9                                            

Where: Montreal’s underground network  

12. Saint Patrick’s Day Parade                                     

What: Show off your Irish Jig at the 198th Montreal Saint Patrick’s Day parade. 

When: March 19 at 12 p.m.                                                      

Where: Downtown Montreal (Parade route to be confirmed) 

13. Sexposition                             

What: A “taboo-free” weekend featuring erotic art. In the evening, the venue takes up a nightclub scene with DJs and performances.                                                                                     When: March 25 – March 26                                                                 

Where: Bain Mathieu

14. Montréal Joue                                                  

What: Various Montreal libraries will be hosting themed game nights, including everything from trivia to virtual reality.                                                                    

When: Beginning February 26 – May 28                                              

Where: Various libraries across Montreal. There will also be some virtual events. 

15. Sugar Shack 

What: The sweet smell of syrup is among us. Yes, Quebec’s maple syrup season has started. Head on over to Cap-Saint-Jacques’ sugar shack for a sugary treat. 

When: Every weekend in March and the week of March break 

Where: Parc-nature du Cap-Saint-Jacques


Montreal en Lumière’s 2023 festival plans

Are you going to go out and visit?

This year’s edition of the Montreal en Lumière festival is back bigger than ever. The festival is on from Feb. 16 until March 5.

The Concordian had the chance to sit down with Julie Martel, the director of the gastronomic programming of the festival. Martel has been organizing the festival’s food for the last five years.

“It’s an important edition of the festival, because it marks the full return of the program outside of the pandemic context,” Martel said. Due to previous restrictions that were in effect at last year’s festival, the organizers were limited in programming. Most had to get a little creative with how they put it together.

“This means we are welcoming back international chefs. We have 40 international guests — not only chefs but winemakers from all over the world.”

Martel emphasized that one of the highlights of the gastronomy part of the festival was Indigenous cooking, which was introduced for the first time in last year’s edition of the festival. 

“We have planned for a full day of for the Indigenous cooking on Feb. 25 at Quartier Gourmand. This year also marks the return of the Quartier Gourmand, which is a free space that people can visit in Place des Arts,” Martel said.

The free space is very important to the festival because it is a way to democratize local food. Another interesting aspect of the Quartier Gourmand is that on specific days, there will be different themes. For example, one of the themes that will be covered is sustainable food. Martel wants to make that information available to all the guests of the festival.

“At Quartier Gourmand, it’s always free tastings and visitors can meet with the local chefs and producers,” Martel said.

Quartier Gourmand at Montreal en Lumière near Place des Arts. Photo by Dalia Nardolillo/THE CONCORDIAN

Martel is very proud of the fact that the Quartier Gourmand is free for visitors. She recognizes that even though the festival has 40 participating restaurants, it might not be affordable for everyone.

If the food part of the festival doesn’t pique your interest, Maurin Auxéméry, the director of the musical programming of the festival, promises some surprises for this year. 

“Music is back this year, and last year due to COVID we didn’t have any special shows,” Auxéméry explained.

He emphasized that in this year’s edition of the festival there will be two types of programming, the outdoor sites and the indoor shows.

The outdoor sites around Place des Festivals and Quartier des Spectacles will have DJs every night that play a different kind of music. The first nights will debut Latin music while towards the end of the festival there will be more French music.

The highlight of the musical programming is the indoor shows which includes all the live performances.

“I can’t remember the amount of indoor shows that we have right off of the top of my head but I do know that we have three nights at the Wilfrid-Pelletier concert hall with a symphony show,” Auxéméry said. 

There is absolutely no excuse for boredom for this upcoming March break. Montreal en Lumière packs a punch in terms of programming this year. For more information please click on this link.

Outdoor site at Montreal en Lumière near Place des Arts. Photo by Dalia Nardolillo/THE CONCORDIAN


Valérie Poulin to perform at Divan Orange

Montréal en Lumière Festival invites local musician to perform her first EP, 1992-2016

Every spring, the Montréal en Lumière Festival brings a multitude of shows to the city, highlighting local up-and-coming artists. This year, the festival invited singer-songwriter Valérie Poulin to perform at Divan Orange on March 1. She will be performing her first EP, 1992-2016, along with new songs she recently composed. The EP has an old-school rock and roll, vintage and bluesy feel to it. Her lyrics, filled with passion and emotion, along with her raspy voice, give most people chills. Joining her on stage is her backing band which includes, bassist Étienne Duprès and drummer Thomas Sauvé.

Poulin moved to Montreal from Saguenay three years ago to pursue her musical career. “Back home, I was studying to be an art teacher, and in the depths of my mind, I knew I was not doing the right thing. I really wanted to compose my music,” said Poulin. Leaving her hometown for the big city was not an easy thing to do, as Poulin did not know many people here in Montreal. However, she was pleased by the support the city has for young artists. “The music scene in Montreal is fantastic. There are so many artists in this city who are around my age—we relate together and we do shows together. We book shows and help each other out. It’s like a little community,” Poulin said.

According to Poulin, 1992-2016 is a compilation of the best songs she has composed in the last three years. “Creating the album has helped me progress spiritually. It helped me find a way to express what was in the back of my mind and let my subconscious speak,” Poulin said. The title of the EP represents the end of an era for Poulin, who was born in 1992. “I was going through a phase, but I’m done now,” she said. “I am moving forward, I am making new songs, and they are very different from the songs on my EP.”

Poulin’s lyrics are filled with relatable heartfelt stories, such as those of romance and heartbreak. She writes her songs based on her emotions. “When I find something that really speaks to me and I feel emotions that start moving inside of me, I just let it go. I start writing and singing without thinking,” said Poulin. According to Poulin, most of her songs are written through automatic writing — she writes what’s on her mind without second thoughts. She also composes songs with her bandmates, Duprès and Sauvé. “Sometimes, it takes a long time to compose a song because I really want it to have feeling in it. You can see it through the performances in my shows that the music is very passionate,”Poulin said. For her, songs must have a meaning. “My music is very intuitive. If I have nothing to say, I won’t force it,” she said.

In 1992-2016, Poulin sings and plays electric guitar alongside Duprès and Sauvé. “We always play as a trio. When I come to our jam, 80 per cent of the songs are ready, and they make their own arrangements. We have one or two songs we made together which is amazing because these guys are brilliant musicians,” Poulin said. While recording, the band brings in David Marchand, who plays the lap steel guitar. Poulin and her musicians have been playing at venues in Montreal for the last two years. They have already played at Divan Orange a few times. “It’s a lot of fun because we got much better in a short period of time. My musicians are also very active—they’re always going to practice at the studio and play with different bands. Our chemistry on stage can easily be seen when you see us perform,” Poulin said.

One thing Poulin made very clear is that she loves being on stage. She said it’s a place where she thrives and expresses herself completely through her music. “The audience can feel it too. We’ve had shows where people went hysterical, which surprised me,” she said. Poulin’s most recent songs are very rock and roll and groovy compared to her EP, which is full of soft rock ballads. “The audience isn’t expecting these type of songs to be played at the show after listening to the EP,” Poulin said. Her new songs can be heard exclusively at her live shows, a surprise for fans. “I want to start recording them in the studio. My focus now is to raise money to record our new songs because they are really good,” she said.

1992-2016 is local singer-songwriter Valérie Poulin’s first album. Photo courtesy of Valérie Poulin

Recording 1992-2016 was Poulin’s first experience recording in a studio. “Working in a studio improved the songs. When you get to hear what you are doing, it’s then you realize, ‘oh, this is not working, but this works,’” she said. According to Poulin, being in the studio helped her improve her guitar and vocal skills. For Poulin, inspiration comes from a multitude of places. “The things that inspire me are not even music most of the time. It’s more like the human itself, confidence that people give me, poetry, acting, places, arts,” she said.

Her song “En Rester Là” was inspired and written based on Poulin’s love life. She had already composed the guitar riffs and instrumentals before the chorus. “As for the lyrics, I fell in love with someone and the person was in love too. There was a barrier for her and she couldn’t go through it. But there was love—it was platonic love,” Poulin said. According to her, the song can be understood by imagining yourself walking with someone, holding their hand, thinking you are going somewhere together, when suddenly the person is not there anymore. “You ask yourself, ‘where am I?’ In the chorus, I say: ‘C’est ou ici?,’” Poulin said. “You can hear it from the chorus that something sad is happening, but it’s mainly about that feeling of knowing that there is potential but that nothing is going to happen,” she said.

According to Poulin, spending a few years as a musician has made composing music and performing onstage an essential part of her life. “I just found out that I need it. I am filled with energy. When I perform, the energy circulates in a way that brings me release. I realized that I needed it, it is vital for me and, if I don’t have that, I go nuts,” Poulin said. Poulin plans on working with her bandmates to record their latest songs, and to keep on performing as much as she can. “I would also like to be able to listen to my EP and not criticize myself—to listen to it with content and to be satisfied,” she said. “I want my musical path to be filled with love, good relationships and to share my passion for music. I do not want to lose my heart in the process.”

Valérie Poulin will be performing at Divan Orange on March 1 at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the door.


What to do in Montreal this winter

A quick look at what’s happening in the city this semester

Winter might have its cold, cold claws firmly clamped down on the city, but that doesn’t mean Montreal’s vibrant arts and culture scene is any less interesting. With winter festivals and activities taking place both inside and outdoors, there’s something to satisfy everyone’s tastes and preferences. Here’s a quick look at some of the things you can look forward to this semester.

Montreal en lumière

Back for its 18th year, the Montréal en lumière festival will once again offer a unique program, consisting of outdoor activities, performing arts and gastronomic discoveries. The festival runs from Feb. 18 to March 11, and is one of the largest winter festivals in the world. You won’t want to miss the festival’s biggest event: Nuit blanche on March 4. With more than 200 activities spread out over 100 sites, this Montreal staple will be sure to warm up even the coldest of nights with its eclectic mix of musical and artistic performances. Mother Mother, Regina Spektor and Matt Holubowski are some of the artists set to perform. Not to mention, the metro is open all night, so you can enjoy all manner of activities until the break of dawn.

The FOFA Gallery

As Concordia students, we are lucky to have our very own in-house exhibition space. The Faculty of Fine Arts Gallery, located in the EV building, routinely displays pieces from Concordia students and faculty. Admission is free. The gallery has an interesting line-up of exhibitions for the winter semester, starting with Making Spaces, the annual undergraduate student exhibition running from Jan. 16 to Feb. 17. The exhibition, featuring works by Faculty of Fine Arts students, will include performances from Concordia’s department of contemporary dance.

Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery

Sovereign Acts II, an examination of indigenous cultural dances, will be presented at the gallery from Jan. 21 to April 1. This work delves into the way indigenous dances and practices were performed for international and colonial audiences. It looks at how these performers were faced with the conundrum of maintaining their traditional cultural practices, while also using them as performances intended to please the colonial gaze.

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

If the winter blues have got you down, then the next exhibition opening at the MMFA will cheer you up. Chagall: Colour and Music will be on display from Jan. 28 to June 11. Four hundred of Marc Chagall’s paintings, stained glass works, illustrations, photographs and maquettes will be on display. The exhibition will not only show the Russian-French artist’s legacy, but will also examine the role music played in Chagall’s art, acting as his inspiration and muse for his modernist works.


Montréal en Lumière lights up the night

Multicolored lights, ice, and a red sled: The Milk Urban Slide
Nathalie Laflamme
Staff writer

What: The Milk Urban Slide is definitely worth a stop at Montréal en Lumière. The slide is 110 metres long and filled with sound effects and flashing, multicolored lights. You are given a red sled on which to slide and many of the lights are activated as the sliders pass by, making the experience interactive. Two people slide at a time, so make sure to bring a partner to race with.

The Milk Urban Slide is at Place des Arts. Photo by Madelayne Hajek.
The only slight annoyance about this event is the lineup. It takes about half an hour to get to the slide, but with all of the live music and activities going on around you, time flies by. There is also a free photo station where you can stage a photo of you and a friend sliding and have the photo sent to you by email or through Facebook.

This is an amazing event for all ages. The slide is fast enough to be thrilling, but not so fast that it will scare children. There are also walls on both sides of the slide, so it is perfectly safe.

If you decide to go, make sure to bring a hat – and especially gloves – as it can get chilly while waiting in line, and you’re going to want gloves for holding onto the sled.

Where and When: The slide is located in the Esplanade de la Place des Arts. The lineup for the slide, as well as the free photo station, begins outside of the Complexe Desjardins on Ste-Catherine St.

This event is open until March 3, but will be closed on Feb. 26 and 27. The slide is usually open from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. and will be open from noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

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A warm winter down in Cabaret Clandestin
Andy Fidel
Staff writer

What: The subtle difference between just playing and feeling Argentine Tango are perfectly packaged into one show — Cabaret Clandestin. Montréal en Lumière brought together a talented group of emerging artists that will warm the winter nights from Feb 21 to 24.

Written and directed by Julie-Anne Ranger-Beauregard, Cabaret Clandestin takes place in Buenos Aires in 1888. The audience is immediately emerged in the narrative in what appears to be an underground saloon.

The audience sits around the round tables and sips on a free drink while the performers prepare themselves. The limited space creates a warm and inviting atmosphere; small enough that even those seated in the back can see Osvaldo Rabuñal pluck the strings of his guitar, Pablo Seib tap the back of his contrabass, and the dancers lift and hook their legs around each other. But you may want to close your eyes and merely listen to Andrée-Anne Tremblay’s dazzling artistry on the violin.

“Tango is a sad thought that is danced. So we dance,” says comedienne Kim Despatis. Ranger-Beauregard’s text becomes a work of poetry about a world where beauty and the malignant walk hand-in-hand. Despatis blends and interacts with the members of the audience, making us all laugh and ponder.

Anglophones, don’t be discouraged. The musical theatre may be in French, but the dancing and the music in between serve as a translation that is sure to entice and enthral all. This collaborative performance weaves through a wide range of emotions in a matter of moments. From pain to passion, torment to bliss, as one would expect from tango.

Where and When: The ARTV Studio underground in front of the Salon Urbain.

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Images of Buenos Aires: worth a thousand words
Jack Ward
Staff writer

What: Images of Buenos Aires captures the sights, sounds and smells of an incredibly rich and multifaceted city. Taking you on a journey through images, the photographs give an alternate view to what tourists pass by. An informative exhibit, Images of Buenos Aires is an educational compliment to the Montréal en Lumière festival. Unfortunately, the atmosphere of the exhibit was stuffy and pretentious and the turnout for the exhibition paled in comparison to the other events headlining that evening. Precedence was taken by an exceptionally well done live music show that was setting up just outside of building where the Images of Buenos Aires was held. However, what made up for the atmosphere were the amazing examples of traditional Argentinean music and food which tantalized the senses.

Where and When: Corner of De Bleury and Ste-Catherine St. W. Feb. 27, 26 and March 1 starting at 5 p.m. and March 2 and 3 starting at 12 p.m..

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The dark side of passion: Tango Demonstration
Tsoler Tekeyan

What: As part of the festival’s spotlight on Buenos Aires, free tango demonstrations are being offered to festival goers.

Manuel Soto from Las Piernas Tango school introduces and demonstrates the concepts of the dance on stage, while his colleagues mingle with and encourage the crowd. You can show up with a partner, a group of friends, or alone. The atmosphere is friendly and it is easy to pair up with other participants or one of the dance teachers.

Instead of teaching techniques or steps, Soto focuses on the feel of the dance. There are elements of longing, passion and sensuality in the music and the movements but there is also melancholy and what Soto calls “the dark side of passion.”

“One moment it’s ‘yes I want you’ and the other it’s ‘no I don’t want you’,” says Soto.

There is an elegant playfulness to the exercise. With the upper body in an intimate embrace, the lower body fluidly glides across the floor.

The movements must start from the body’s centre and be felt at the gut level,” notes Soto.

He explains that the tango is a dialogue between two bodies moving together. In this relationship, “you must be in tune to the other while staying yourself. One partner leads while the other trusts; but it’s not about being a man or a woman, it’s about being who you are.”

While techniques can be mastered by professionals, the spirit of tango is rooted in improvisation and intuition. The style was developed in the streets of Buenos Aires and it has European and African influences. With time, dancers across the world have adopted the style.

“Montreal has one of the biggest tango communities outside Argentina,” says Benoit Dubois, a participant who has been learning the dance for the past two years.

That community might grow bigger with the help of Soto and his colleagues. Their passion for tango is contagious. Their friendly and laid-back attitude makes beginners feel like experts. It’s not about learning technicalities, it’s about feeling a mood.

When and Where: Demonstrations are being held at the RBC stage, Wednesday to Saturday at 5:30 p.m. until March 2.


The Box rocks for the young and old

Photo: Andrew McNeill

An impromptu snowstorm certainly didn’t scare The Box junkies away from Montréal en Lumière’s downtown festival site Friday night.
At long last, a festival experience where cigarette toting twenty somethings are outnumbered by miniature humans dressed in technicolor Ewok snowsuits.
Quebecois baby boomers wrapped up their wee ones, lugged them up on their shoulders, and marched through clumping snowflakes to Place des Arts to rock out to the ‘80s New Wave band that once topped the charts and dominated the airwaves.
The Box assembled in 1981 at the hands of Jean-Marc Pisapia, one of the first members of Men Without Hats. The band hit mainstream success in 1987 with their album Closer Together, disbanded in 1992, but reassembled in 2002 to spin out a few new tunes and reunion concerts.
The Box is mom and dad pop-rock in its most uncomplicated format. Its sound is stereotypically New Wave, and dependant on upbeat yet playful male-female vocal harmonies and catchy choruses. Despite its harmless and agreeable disposition, The Box’s sound didn’t survive the turn of the ‘90s, as listeners looked for something darker—and found it in grunge.
But while The Box’s denim cut offs, hairspray, and Jheri curl days are over, they still know how to get the crowd shaking. Friday’s show was for older fans and their obligatory offspring.
The Box knows they won’t be reigning any new converts, but their live show keeps all the energy of late-’80s Canadian New Wave intact. Dragging toddlers out in the snow past bed time isn’t easy, but this was clearly a show families didn’t want to miss.


Belgian band serves up its ‘best burger’ yet

Belgium is often associated with praline chocolates, waffles, beer and the unassuming cartoon hero recently rejuvenated in 3D, Tintin, closely followed by the Smurfs. Crazy experimental jazz musicians don’t usually come anywhere near the top of the “Best of Belgium” list.
But that’s all about to change when The Experimental Tropic Blues Band, born in Liège about a decade ago, bring their “best burger” attitude to L’Astral during Montréal en Lumière on Feb. 18.
“We just want people to have fun, express themselves, party with us,” explained guitarist and lead vocalist J.J. Thomsin, who goes by the stage name “Boogie Snake.”
Their most recent album, Liquid Love, is somewhere between a dance party, a mosh pit and a jam session and, while it’s sometimes physically confusing—you won’t know whether to dance, jump or just shake erratically—its high energy, hard rocking, experimental sounds will eradicate those doubts and fears as quickly as they came.
The album, which was largely influenced by the band’s time in the United States during 2010-2011, packs punch after punch of loud, homage-paying bluesy goodness into a mere 34 and a half minutes. Songs like “T.E.T.B.B. Eat Sushi,” written about the first time they ate sushi in New York City, and “The Best Burger” aren’t just about the differences in cuisine the band members experienced during their travels, they’re also about an attitude.
“We wrote [“The Best Burger”] after SXSW [Festival] in Austin, Texas,” said Thomsin, laughing. “It was funny. Everywhere we went people had this energy like, ‘we have the best bugers!’ They’ve got the mojo!”
Jon Spencer, who lives in New York City where he produced and mixed the band’s latest LP at NY Hed studio, helped to incorporate that attitude into Liquid Love, adding “cool instruments and ideas,” like the double bass featured on the album.
“It was the best experience we’ve had in a recording studio,” Thomsin added.
But our neighbours to the south aren’t the only ones with mojo. The gusto of Thomsin and his bandmates, Jeremy Alonzi (Dirty Coq, guitar/vocals) and David Dinverno (Devil D’Inferno, drums), comes through in their music and their nicknames.
“When we were kids—when we were 20—we came up with these stage names when we would play because our real names were not very fun, they were too serious,” said Thomsin. “Plus, in blues everyone has a nickname.”
Despite their leaning toward the “experimental” part of their name, T.E.T.B.B. carry the traditions of classic blues throughout their album. With sharp guitar licks, gruff vocals and hilarious anecdotal voice-overs about boners and partying, there’s more mojo in this album than you ever thought was possible.
And it’s that same mojo that’s fuelling their touring fire. They’re spending the majority of this year headlining dates all over Europe, Canada and parts of the U.S. Between jet-setting across the globe, the trio are writing new music for an upcoming self-produced EP along with creating acoustic sets too.
“People want acoustic songs for showcases, but our songs aren’t really made to be acoustic, so we really have to reinvent them,” Thomsin said, adding that touring is when they have the most fun.
“We just want to have fun and maybe the people who were there last year will come back and we’ll make more friends,” Thomsin said. “We want to meet new people, new bands and make new fans so we can come back. We just want to have fun, that’s all.”

The Experimental Tropic Blues Band play during Montréal en Lumière at L’Astral (305 Ste-Catherine St. W.) on Feb. 18.


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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