Travel Blog

28 Jan

Montréal winter nights are bright with activity possibilities

Nighttime is always the right time for both family fun and slightly more adult-oriented activities and entertainment in Montréal during the winter season.

Patinoire Vieux PortGliding on ice under night skies is a sublime pastime at the Old Port’s idyllic Bonsecours Basin skating rink, a huge open-air surface renowned for its exceptional ice. It features some of the most striking views of Old Montréal and the city skyline in an extremely fun-friendly environment. Each day has a different music theme: classical Mondays, world music Tuesdays, urban sounds Wednesdays, and so on. The ice is open Monday to Wednesday until 9 pm, and Thursday to Sunday until 10 pm. Skate rentals and lockers are available.

Beaver_Lake_skatingMany of Montréal’s most beautiful parks also feature night skating along with music, warming stations and/or places to eat and, er, lubricate. The picturesque Parc Lafontaine, Parc Maisonneuve and Beaver Lake on the summit of Mount Royal are all examples of top-tier blading places that typically stay open on the weekends until 10 pm. For locations, skating conditions and other info, please go here.

Parc_du_mont-royalSpeaking of the mountain, Mount Royal Park is an outdoor winter sports enthusiast’s dream. In addition to skating, sledding and cross-country skiing – there are 22 km of groomed trails – snowshoeing is becoming an increasingly popular pastime. (Note that skis, skates, inner tubes, and snowshoes and poles can all be rented onsite – just show up.) The “City Lights Snowshoeing Excursion” guided snowshoe tour, which includes hot chocolate, is a nighttime highlight of all the mountain magic. It lasts 90 minutes, is 3 km long and is presented in English on Fridays. Please go here for dates and times.

Parc_Jean-DrapeauOutdoor sporting organization Ecorécréo is inviting one and all to bring a headlamp and discover Montréal under the stars with a variety of nocturnal missions at Parc Jean-Drapeau on Île Ste-Hélène a few minutes south of Old Montréal. Evening dogsledding, cross-country skiing and guided snowshoe tours of the Expo 67 site (including access to the top of the imposing stone Lévis Tower, built in 1930, and which features a spectacular nighttime view of the city skyline) on their groomed island trails are some of the activities on offer. Go here for details, times and rental info.

Luminotherapie-2016Back downtown, the Quartier des Spectacles will be brightening the night yet again with the less physically demanding Luminothérapie project in Place des Festivals, which has been transformed into a giant playground by the interactive installation Impulse. Made up of 30 illuminated seesaws, each seesaw is fitted with LED lights and audio speakers that allow users to generate sounds as they sway. Complementing Impulse are nine large-scale video projections on the facades of nearby buildings.

Igloofest-2016Two weekends remain – January 29-31 and February 4-6 – in the 10th edition of extremely popular outdoor electronic music festival Igloofest, which draws an international crowd of partygoers for world class DJs and VJs. Over 25,000 dance aficionados turned out for the opening weekend of this year’s celebration of leading edge electro enhanced by impressive (and enormous) custom designed outdoor stages, vast video projection screens and sensational laser light projections. Igloofest takes over the Jacques-Cartier Quay in the Old Port of Montréal from 7:30 pm until 12:30 am.

Chez_BaptisteFor those who’d prefer to have their nighttime nightlife inside, the very first instalment of the Mont-Royal Avenue Taverne Tour, on the Plateau Mont-Royal, takes place from February 4-6. Thirteen high-calibre music artists and bands, in addition to DJs, will perform live at nine Mont-Royal Avenue pubs, namely Le Bar Inc., Taverne Saint-Sacrement, Chez Baptiste, Le Barraca, Taverne Normand, Pub West Shefford, Le Verre Bouteille, Jono Bar and Matahari Bar Salon. Electro-rock, psych-folk, soul, garage and more are all on tap for this unique opportunity to explore new music Montréal-style.

Montreal_en_lumiereAnd then, of course, there’s MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE, one of the largest winter arts and culture happenings in the world. The annual festival presents an expansive and eclectic program of performing arts (live music, theatre, dance, circus arts and more), almost innumerable gastronomic options and a lively range of outdoor events and activities in the Quartier des Spectacles in downtown Montréal. The free and family-friendly outdoor site features a giant outdoor stage, interactive installations, dining areas, fireworks and a snaking ice slide. The 2016 edition runs from February 18 to March 5.

MTLENLUMIERE-1-625X400MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE wraps up with the always epic Nuit blanche all-nighter, which invites burners of the midnight oil to partake in upwards of 200 (mostly free) activities including live music, film, dance, performance art, interactive installations, storytelling, digital and visual art, great food and equally great times on the night of February 27. Plan to do nothing February 28.


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