February can be a hard month. We’re post-Christmas but pre-spring, back at work with no holidays in sight. It’s tempting to crawl into a blanket cave and re-emerge once the city has thawed out, but Montreal's epic light festival, Montréal en Lumière will give you plenty of reasons to get yourself out and about. At least 30 of them, in fact.
Montréal en Lumière are old pros at brightening up the city through the darkest season, bringing their sparkling schedule of winter fun to the city for the 18th time running. With so much prior experience behind them, it’s no wonder that they’ve earned a rep as one of the most exciting events of the year - and this year, they're coming back stronger with even more to offer.
While there's a lot of fun to be had with indoor shows and performances for this year’s festival - let’s have a look at what’s going on out in the streets. Whether your activity of choice is eating, drinking, going to shows or zipping around on fairground rides, Montréal en Lumière have got you covered from February 23 to March 11.
1. Try out the RBC Zip-line
You couldn’t make a list of Montréal en Lumière's outdoor attractions without mentioning the all-famous zip-line! Stretching across a knee-trembling 200 metres, this is a chance to impress a date with your bravery while whizzing across the sky - or to sit back and watch, if heights aren’t really your thing.
2. Dance next to the Bétonnière boule miroir
Cement trucks like you've never seen them before - converted into a giant disco ball! Come check out Benedetto Bufalino and Benoit Deseille’s crazy spinning party truck, turning urban space into an amazing impromptu dance floor.
3. The Elizabethan lanterns
This slightly saucy installation is a nod to the former brothels of Saint-Elizabeth, created by the street’s residents as an homage to its well-known nickname, “Red Light”.
4. Get the Bell Luminescent Experience
Take your selfie game to a whole new level with an illuminated 360-degree souvenir video, thanks to Bell’s amazing backdrop of LED tubes and a mobile camera.
Put together by Lyon-based light artists Groupe Laps, Face will be an interactive video sculpture that will play with its audience’s notion of identity. Groupe Laps are an amazing collective of artists and light specialists who have exhibited their work all over the world, so take advantage of your chance to check it out.
6. Curling en lumière
Try your hand at curling in a fantastic, futuristic, lit-up environment, complete with commentary! A brand new attraction as of this year, this is part of the Les Hivernales series of events for the 375th anniversary of the city - happy birthday, MTL!
7. Lisa LeBlanc
On March 11, Lisa LeBlanc will be showing up to the Festival of Lights with her unique sound and guitar in hand, bringing her well-known folk-trash vibes to kick off one hell of a party on the Place des Festivals.
Montreal en Lumiere is also a great choice for family outings, with a wide ranges of activities for all ages. One that is sure to suit everybody is X-Lumina, combining electro-organ music and intense pyro-acrobatics in one big, original show, which you can catch at several nights over the course of the festival.
9. Les Tuques bleus
Organized as a fundraiser for Les Amis de la Montagne, Les Tuques bleus is an exciting night time showshoeing event held on Mount Royal. It’s really something special to wander along the mountain paths at night, all lit up with lanterns - book your ticket now to save yourself a place.
10. Have a nibble at the festival of cheeses
Food fans have a lot to check out at this year’s Montréal en Lumière, one of which is the festival of cheeses! Come check out classic Quebec cheese concoctions presented by Fromage D’ici, appropriately paired with a selection of beers and fine wines.
11. Coleman Hall
Dance the night away to the Coleman Hall’s hella catchy dance beats, coming to the Coors Light Zone on March 4. He’s fresh off a tour with Twenty-One Pilots and will be sharing some tracks from his debut album Summerland.
12. Fantastic Planet
Inspired by an old-school sci-fi flick from the 70s, Fantastic Planet is an art installation by Amanda Parer that features creeping, illuminated humanoids spotted all over the festival site. It’s sure to be equally creepy and cool.
13. L’Espace création Illuminart presented by Casino de Montréal
Treat yourself to a view of all of Illuminart’s program at once with this amazing lit-up dome, courtesy of Casino de Montréal, featuring a one-of-a-kind magical installation that twists together art and technology.
14. Carina Nebula
Created by local multimedia artists and light aficionados 4U2C and named after a cool space thing, Carina Nebula will illuminate Parc Toussaint-Louverture with the help of an interactive piano in Les Habitations Jeanne-Mance.
15. Head to the Bistro SAQ
All this activity is bound to make you a little peckish - make sure to check out the tasty selection of booze and grub on offer at the Bistro SAQ. If you wanna get serious about your food, check out the All-Duck Tasting Evening with an amazing duck-themed spread straight outta Lyon.
Montreal local MAUS has been making waves in the city since the 90s, and this winter you can see her for yourself. She’ll be performing on the Coors Light stage on March 3.
17. United Fish
Screened onto the front of Cégep du Vieux-Montréal for your viewing pleasure, United Fish is a short film being put on by Lucion Media and the students of Cégep du Vieux-Montréal.
18. Ride the Air France ferris wheel
19. Miguel Graca
Having already made an appearance at Piknic Électronik over the years, DJ Miguel Graca will be bringing his infectious beats to the winter festival scene. Catch him at the Coors Light stage on February 23.
This is an exciting installation from French artists Yann Nguema and EZ3kiel that involves a huge projection of pixels and lasers up on the front of Saint James United Church. Intrigued? You should be.
21. Get energized at the Nespresso Lounge
Need a caffeine boost before heading off for more action? Check out the Nespresso Lounge, or for a more intense coffee hit, head over to Atelier Nespresso at 1461 Saint-Alexandre, where chefs will be serving up unique coffee-inspired concoctions.
22. Patrick Trudeau
Performing under the name Diagraf, Patrick Trudeau has been shaking up the world of multimedia art with his blend of visual and audio narratives. He can be found on the Coors Light stage on both March 3 and March 9.
23. Large Pendulum Wave
Created by Ivo Schoofs of Kinetic Humor, Large Pendulum Wave is an experiment in aesthetics and science, combining the power of gravity and kinetic laws with an extremely cool outdoor lights installation.
Irradiance is a beautiful amalgamation of pixels, audio and light art curated by Louis-Philippe St-Arnault, Joseph Lefèvre and Évelyne Drouin of the Société des arts technologiques. It’ll be projected up onto the La Capitale building for all to see.
Judith Portier is a quirky local artist who specializes in weird and wonderful concepts. Charlotte is currently pondering on Man and the Moment that involves moving ostrich silhouettes that respond to crowd movements, and it is well worth checking out for yourself.
26. Mondial des cidres 2017
I’m more of a cider than a beer girl myself, so I’m super excited about the festival-within-a-festival celebrating Quebec’s fantastic selection of apple-based booze treats. With 20 local artisanal cider producers, contests, and lots of chances to taste the goods, you should definitely check out the Mondial de cidres at Complexe Desjardins’ Grande-Place, March 3 - 5.
Hip-hop fans won’t want to miss this performance from Québécois rapper Rymz, whose newest album Petit Prince was met with widespread critical acclaim. Rymz will be lighting up the Coors Light Stage on the Place des Festivals on Feb 25 - make sure you’re there.
28. Thomas von Party
The clue is in the name, but Thomas von Party is sure to make a splash on the Coors Light stage on March 11. Described as a “psychedelic party wizard”, his electronic stylings are already well-known on the Montreal EDM scene.
Well-known for his work as a DJ and VJ, Yanneek’s performance on the Coors Light stage is sure to be a memorable one. He’ll be performing on Feb 24, March 11 and March 11.
30. Stuff yourself silly
While amazing shows and rides are the cornerstones of Montréal en Lumière, let’s not forget the mouth-watering selection of food and drinks on offer. Check out the festival’s vast array of food trucks, maple products, cotton candy stalls and pop-up bistros and bars to keep you satiated!
As if that wasn’t enough to keep you satisfied, the program for Nuit Blanche has just been announced, giving you the best possible reason to pull an all-nighter. In a blast from the past, this year’s night of winter activities is inspired by the anniversary of Expo 67, featuring a line up of workshops, exhibitions, music and more inspired by the arts and culture of the age.
From the 4-5 of March, the party will go on all night, bringing skating, food trucks, visual art, '60s cinema, dance classes and actual, literal fireworks to multiple neighbourhoods across the city. The vintage vibes will capture the futuristic spirit of the ‘67 cultural revolution, with the Nuit Blanche party zone bringing you the best of 60’s music to keep you dancing well into the night.
And don’t worry about getting home - the metros will be open all night and free shuttle buses will be available from 8pm to 3am, giving you plenty of time to soak in the glitz and glamour of yesteryear. Check out the Nuit Blanche website for more details and the full schedule!