Saturday is only a few sleeps away, and unless you've been cowering in fear under your blankets for the last few weeks (and given the weather, I wouldn't blame you), then you already know that come the 27th, Nuit Blanche will be taking over Montreal.
An annual event that all kinds of Montrealers look forward to, Nuit Blanche is multifaceted in every sense. To ensure you have a handle on all things related to the all-night art, food, and dance party, here's a rundown on everything you need to know about Montreal's Nuit Blanche 2016.
Where The Concept Came From
Despite now being a fixture in the Montreal winter event scene, Nuit Blanche (as a concept) actually began in France, created by Jean Blaise in 1990. Despite not bearing the same name, the Blaise-created festival (Festival des Allumées) was centered on art and ran from the early evening well into the morning, much like our Nuit Blanche operates today. It's also worth noting that the Helsinki Festival "Night of the Arts" was founded around the same time, and functioned much the same.
But Montreal wouldn't see a Nuit Blanche for another decade and some change. First came Montréal en Lumière, founded in 2000, which eventually launched a Nuit Blanche for the city (the event had already became a major cultural event in cities across Europe, notably Paris) in 2003, the first Canadian metropolis to do so.
Now Nuit Blanche stands as the event as part of Montréal en Lumière, taking over the urban core of the city from midday to 8am.
Where Everything Is Going Down
Growing larger each and every year, Nuit Blanche 2016 will see more of Montreal come alive than ever before. To be a bit more specific/helpful, here are the designated zones of activities for this year's Nuit Blanche:
- Quartier des Spectacles
- Downtown Montreal
- Old Montreal
- Mile End
- Parc Olympique
Obviously that's a lot of ground to cover, with many venues found in each area. Instead of thinking about it in a broad sense, just think about a popular venue (municipal buildings included) and you can bet they're doing something for Nuit Blanche.
Don't forget, however, that not everything is above ground. One of the more exciting aspects of Nuit Blanche is all of the artistic creations to check out inside of the city's underground network, officially titled Art Souterrain, and is technically a festival unto itself.
Montreal's metro network will also be hosting events at certain stations, specifically Berri-UQAM and Jean-Talon. There's also a "Blue Line Zone" outlined as an area to check out at Nuit Blanche, with activities reachable via the Blue Line, as you could probably guess.
For a far better representation of what's going on and where, check out Nuit Blanche's interactive map of events, activities, and activations.
What's Open And What's Happening
Like I already mentioned, if you can think of a popular tourist site, concert venue, or heritage site, you can pretty much bet that something Nuit Blanche-related is being organized there. That includes City Hall, Centre Phi, Complexe Desjardin, St. Joseph's Oratory, Place des Festival (where the giant outdoor Montréal en Lumière site is already set up), and the list goes on and on.
Needless to say, there is a lot going on for Nuit Blanche, with most events listed on the official website here, which also allows you to filter all the goings on by location and venue.
Note, however, that not every single activity is listed on the Nuit Blanche website, as there are a fair amount of unofficial events and activations going down that are hosted by bars, galleries and smaller venues.
You also shouldn't forget that certain bars are going to be open all night long for the very first time. All of them will be located on Saint-Denis street and will be in operation 'til 6am. For a list of the bars and more info, head here.
So essentially, you have tons to do, which can seem pretty daunting. To help you out, here are some notable Nuit Blanche events we've already talked about that are definitely worth checking out:
- Montreal's Hidden Rooftop Pool Being Open All Night Long
- TOHU's Montreal Freak Show
- Spa Bota Bota Late Night Spa Service
- Deadmau5 Performing At Théâtre Berri
- Saint Denis Street Transforming Into A Winter Snow Slide
- The Olympic Park's Winter Food Truck Showcase
And if none of that sounds all that appealing, check out our round-up of the 30 best things to do at Nuit Blanche this year.
How To Get Around
You got to hand it to the STM, because without their all-night metro service, getting around Montreal during Nuit Blanche would be a thousand times more difficult.
Better yet, to help you zoom to events from one borough to another, the STM is organizing four free shuttle routes. 50 bus stops will be found along the four routes, which will take you to downtown, the Mild-End, Old Montreal, and Quartier des spectacles.
While the shuttles are free, the metro isn't, so your best bet is to grab an evening pass if you don't have a monthly pass. The $5 will ensure you can ride the metro all night and never have to worry about transportation woes.
What You Shouldn't Do
In my experience, as someone who has had both epic Nuit Blanche nights and complete fails, there are some things you simply shouldn't do to if you want to have a memorable experience. I won't be all preachy because I'm sure a fair amount of you are Nuit Blanche veterans, but for those who need the advice:
- Don't head out with a large group: Too many people are hard to mobilize, and the differences in opinions can lead to a lot of indecision/never actually choosing an event.
- Keep your plans fluid: Pick a wide assortment of events you want to check out, but be flexible. It's fairly likely certain spots will be hella packed, so always have a backup in mind.
- Be prepared to commit to a venue: But if there's a particular event you really want to check out, and there is a line, don't let that deter you. Rather than just walk around in the cold, stick it out through the line.
- Go for the unconventional: For a memorable experience, head to stuff that can only be seen/experienced during Nuit Blanche, rather than just a conventional DJ set or the like.
- Don't start too early: It's a long night, so try to avoid getting crunked at 10pm. It's a marathon, not a race.
That's it folks. Have a happy Nuit Blanche.