Consider this your invitation to New Year’s Eve in Montreal, but be sure to note that, as always, it’s BYOB: Bring Your Own Bedtime. Whether it’s delectable dining, wintery walking or skating, champagne-fuelled dancing and/or every other manner of party prancing, Montreal has the solution to your New Year’s Eve resolution, all night and – in some cases – all the next day long. Strap in…
As safe New Year’s bets go, the smart money says look no further than the Montreal Casino, where you never need to roll the dice on a good time. And that good time starts at 4 pm with a pan-oceanic, Paris-to-Montreal New Year’s Eve countdown, with special prizes of five trips being offered. Live music, including soul/funk/RB sensation the Freddie James Project, will provide the soundtrack while the Casino’s highly rated gastronomic hotspots – such as Le Montréal and Pavillon 67 – will rise to the occasion with carefully curated New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day menus.
Music and food also combine sublimely at sassy and classy downtown Montreal jazz and blues joint Upstairs Jazz Bar and Grill, which this year again pairs an equally sassy and classy New Year’s menu with intimate performances by multiple Quebec Lys Blues Award-winner (in the Best Female Artist category) Dawn Tyler Watson. The three-course meal also includes Proseco at midnight… Not to be outdone, historic jazz supper club House of Jazz – famous for both the jazz greats that have graced its stage as much as its southern-style chicken and ribs – will be offering up a special menu as well as a party-starting musical host, well-known Montreal blues singer Carolyn Fe and guests.
A little further afield, inviting and intimate neighbourhood (in the Petite-Patrie neighbourhood, that is) resto Tandem is bringing its A-game with a ridiculously delicious-sounding, special nine-course, French-cuisine-inspired menu complete with foie gras for $89. Second best, it’s bring-your-own-wine. We believe them when they say reservations are strongly advised… Sinfully good New Year’s gastronomy awaits at Au Cinquième Péché (or “The Fifth Sin,” the fifth of the Seven Deadly Sins being gluttony… or rather, a ravenous appetite), which for the second year in a row promises an inspired, festive French market cuisine menu plus bubbly at midnight as well as party favors, tunes and a party – guaranteed! – at its St. Denis St. locale.
After all the great grub, you may feel inclined to want to walk it off somewhat. Head to the Quartier des Spectacles, the always-active agglomeration of theatres, venues and spacious public and performance spaces, which will light-up the New Year’s night with Luminotherapy, an immersive, interactive installation comprised of 50 colourful, kaleidoscopic prisms set to an ambient music soundtrack projecting glimmering images onto the facades of eight prominent buildings resulting in multimedia magic (until Feb. 2).
It’s a ten-minute mosey from there to Old Montreal’s historic and picturesque Place Jacques-Cartier, which will once again be the epicenter of free outdoor New Year’s Eve celebrations. The annual party, which routinely attracts crowds in the tens of thousands, gets started at 7 pm with DJs hyping the vibe. At 10:30 pm, live performances will take over the stage until The Grand Countdown, which will be followed at the stroke of midnight by fireworks in the Old Port. From 12:15 am onward, DJs will again steer the party at an improvised “megadiscotheque” until 2 am.
If you prefer to bust your moves on ice, the picturesque Bonsecours Basin with its spectacular nighttime views of Old Montreal and the Montreal city skyline are yours to be enjoyed while skating to pumped-in and pumped-up music on the Basin’s huge open-air rink (renowned for its excellent ice quality). On Dec. 31, the rink opens at 10 am and closes at 2 am, one-day passes are very reasonable, and kids under six skate for free. Warm beverages are available, and if you don’t have skates, don’t fear, they’ve got everything it takes to keep a buddy happy.
Since you’re already in Old Montreal, it’s worth noting that the history-filled district’s super-stylish Hôtel St. Paul has a new restaurant, Hambar (which specializes in market cuisine and irresistible pork-based charcuterie). Open every day of the year, Dec. 31 will of course be no exception, promising a festive atmosphere complete with DJ “where bubbles, a countdown and good company” will be the foundation for libations… If a black-tie high is the New Year’s buzz you’re looking for, then the elegant and iconic Ritz Carlton – or the “Grande Dame of Sherbrooke Street” as she is known – will hook you up. Its annual New Year’s Gala Dinner offers a six-course tasting menu, a DJ starting at 11 pm and a glass of champagne at midnight. Tickets are $295.
At the other end of the party spectrum sits (or rather bumps and grinds) Cirque Boudoir’s annually epically sexy Carnavalesque New Year’s Eve, a rollicking cabaret-style party that combines live elements – such as burlesque, go-go dancers, circus and sideshow performances and more – with an all-night dance party that usually sells out. This year’s event, titled the Freakshow Edition, unfolds at the always fascinating Bain Mathieu, a former public bath re-purposed as a party space (e.g., the dance floor is in the pool). In addition to party pools, Montreal is home to a wealth of renovated, repurposed and reimagined vaudeville and old-time movie theatres, spectacular spaces that breathe new life into old glory. Mile End’s gorgeously restored Rialto Theatre would be chief among these, and provides a classically classy setting for its annual New Year’s soirée. Your $175 ticket gets you a red carpet entrance to your reserved table, canapés and cocktails, a four-course dinner service, dancing and live entertainment all night long courtesy of RB and soul slinger Carlton J. Smith and band, and a live stream from Times Square at midnight complete with champagne. Valet parking is also available.
Downtown in Montreal’s Gay Village, the Olympia Theatre – built in 1925 with a capacity of 2,500 – will once again throw one of the largest dance parties in the city, Celebration 2015. Six DJs (house, hip-hop, club mixes and more), 10 open bars and bottle service for the high rollers among us… And in the Quartier des Spectacles, the similar-capacity Metropolis (also a restored former movie theatre) will give the Olympia a run for its money with Countdown NYE 2015. Twenty DJs (RB, hip-hop, house, electro), eight bars, bottle service, a balloon drop and a live countdown featuring Times Square on huge video screens are all part of the package.
In other key dance club events, Montreal Forum (formerly Arena) is a 1,200 capacity club in the former home base of the Montreal Canadiens hockey team, which has been converted into a unique entertainment complex. Montreal Forum will play host to Joy 2015, featuring house, RB, Top-40 and more from DJ DK and a special guest, plus six hours of regular and premium VIP treatment… Stereo Nightclub continues to boast the best sound system in town, and some of the longest party hours with a never ending multi-DJ New Year’s party that straddles three days. For serious.
Likeminded dance insomniacs may also want to duck into Circus for their annual Circus Maximus event, which will live up to its name with a 34-DJ onslaught in four different rooms featuring “grandiose décor” over 14 hours… And the utterly unique New City Gas venue – constructed out of the historic, industrial-age New City Gas complex, which helped light Montreal’s streets starting in the mid-1800s – in the city’s storied Griffintown neighbourhood will once again throw its bubblicious Dom Perignon-sponsored Luminous New Year’s event with chart-topping progressive house DJ duo Project 46 and more.
Back in the Quartier des Spectacles, the 15-year-old Fluid event gets its freak on at the two-tier Club Soda on St. Laurent Blvd. The all-inclusive party – with 10 bars and house, hip-hop and club-anthem DJs – has varying degrees of VIP awesomeness, but just to make it easy breezy, all include admission, coat check, tips and open bar… A stone’s throw away sits the SAT (or Société des Arts Technologiques), a multi-purpose performance/research space devoted to the development of digital art, immersive technologies and augmented realities. And what’s a New Year’s party without an augmented reality? The SAT’s main space will house the electro sounds of five DJs throughout the night, whereas the rooftop Satosphère – an enormous dome-style immersive environment that forms a spherical 360-degree projection screen – will feature five DJs and VJs.
And no New Year’s visit to Montreal is complete without a stop-or-three on the city’s downtown, bar-and-restaurant clogged party artery (partery?) Crescent Street. Ring in 2015 with special events at hoppin’ spots like Jet Nightclub, The Imperial Room and the two-storey, three-bar Sir Winston Churchill Pub Complex, or Sir Winnies, as it is popularly known. The Winston Churchill Pub will feature a Top-40, RB and house DJ (and the $25 admission comes with a bottle of the bubbly stuff), while Winnie’s Bar and Karina Club Lounge are similarly angled DJ-wise at only $10 entry with champagne also included.
So as we say à Montréal, bonne soirée et bonne année!
Photo credits: Susan Moss, Casino de Montréal, House of Jazz, Eva Blue, Ritz Carlton, Cirque de Boudoir, Olympia, New City Gas,
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