Montréal sparkles as the holiday season truly arrives this week, turning streets into winter villages and playgrounds, art and craft fairs into gift-shopping bonanzas, and the city’s numerous stages into charming gatherings for choirs, orchestras and rock shows.
Celebrate the season
Whether in the cobblestone streets of Old Montréal or in the parks of the Plateau, Montréal celebrates the holiday season with music, food, drink and open arms this week. Merry Montréal turns Old Montréal into a winter wonderland with fires to warm up by, free hot chocolate, Santa at the Christmas market at Place Jacques-Cartier, Christmas-themed films and more. Le Festival Noël dans le parc lights up trees, offers activities for kids and shares the music of dozens of local musicians in free concerts at Parc des Compagnons-de-St-Laurent (Mont-Royal Avenue at Cartier) and at Parc Lahaie (Saint-Laurent Boulevard at Saint-Joseph) on weekday evenings and in the afternoon and evenings on weekends, to December 10 – don’t miss the parade on December 5 on Mount Royal Avenue ending in fireworks at Parc LaFontaine at 7 p.m. Also see Santa in Montréal’s downtown malls or delve deeper into the traditional Victorian Christmas in Montréal.
Find all kinds of Québec-made food, drink, clothing, housewares, toys, jewellery and more at Marché Casse Noisette, also known as the Nutcracker Market, adding holiday sparkle to downtown’s Palais des congrès to December 6. Festive Marché de Noël Prince Arthur lights up Rue Prince Arthur at the corner of Boulevard St-Laurent, with local artisans selling handmade items, tree ornaments and more along with snacks, mulled wine and hot cider accompanied by carolling and films. On the evening of December 9, not only do some arty gift shopping at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts boutique but see the Colours of Jazz exhibition for half price. Find handcrafted furniture, home decor, clothing, art, toys, jewelry and more at the Smart Design Mart Pop-Up Shop, to December 13 at 5354 Saint-Laurent Boulevard. And you might just find the perfect gift for the comic book fans in your life at Mini ComicCon on December 6 at Palais des Congres. Look for more locally made items at Montréal’s indie markets and traditional holiday shopping fairs and check out our ideas for 5 essential gifts, from scarves to cider.Outdoor play
Play on 30 illuminated seesaws at Luminothérapie (link to new TM article?), an outdoor interactive art exhibition opening the evening of December 9 at Place des Festivals – at the same time, watch animated digital art as it’s projected onto nearby buildings nearby and throughout the Quartier des Spectacles. Lace up your skates or rent new ones at the beautiful Old Port of Montréal skating rink starting December 8. And watch pro and amateur snowboarders jump and ride downhill at the Empire City Troopers Urban Snowboard Operation on December 5 on St-Denis Street below Sherbrooke Avenue.
BJM – Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal wows with three new original works of contemporary dance: Rodrigo Pederneiras’s Rouge, Itzik Galili’s Mono Lisa, and Andonis Foniadakis’s Kosmos, to December 5 at Place des Arts. The exciting, high-energy 100Lux urban dance troupe pop, locks and hip hops at Cinquième Salle at Place des Arts, December 4 and 5. For a different take on love and love stories, see the play Tribes, about a deaf man from an eccentric, intellectual family, at the Segal Centre to December 20. On the other hand, there’s always Trailer Park Boys live and uncensored at Théâtre St-Denis on December 6. And on the screen, Canada’s longest-running LGBT film festival IMAGE+NATION continues to December 6, featuring That’s Not Us by director William Sullivan, a “Generation Q” young and queer series, closing film Kiss Me, Kill Me, and much more. The Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium at the Space for Life immerses us in the Northern Lights in 360° film aurōrae, set to music by DJ Champion. Art and cultural hub the Phi Centre presents films by Todd Haynes while Cinéma du Parc screens several Alfred Hitchcock classics all month.
December is just packed with the music of holiday choirs and orchestras. The Montréal Bach Festival continues to December 5, featuring a chamber music concert with harpsichordist Luc Beauséjour and Baroque violinist Christina Day Martinson on December 4, and the December 5 closing concert with Arion Orchestre Baroque. On December 6, the Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir sings to the rafters in its 33rd Gospel Celebration Christmas Show at Théâtre Maisonneuve at Place des Arts. Christmas concerts delight at the stunning Saint Joseph’s Oratory on December 4 and 5, while violinist Stéphanie-Marie Degand joins Les Violons du Roy on December 4 at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The Lyric Singers hold with their annual Candlelight Christmas concert, December 3 to 6 at Loyola Chapel. Rufus and Martha Wainwright’s Noël Nights, featuring family and more special guests, on December 5 and 6 at Place des Arts’ Maison Symphonique; the McGill Chamber Orchestra plays Handel’s Messiah on December 8 at 7:30 pm, at Christ Church Cathedral. And on December 10, hear three children’s choirs sing songs of peace, free at Espace Georges-Émile-Lapalme in the middle of Place des Arts at 5 p.m.
Friday night starts with two big names from different spectrums of the music world: former Supertramp prog-rocker, singer-songwriter Roger Hodgson at Place des Arts and Hong Kong-based Cantopop singing sensation Eason Chan at the Bell Centre. Meanwhile Great Lake Swimmers and Art Bergman entertain with folk-leaning rock at Théâtre Fairmount, experimental musician Byron Westbrook opens music realms at Bar Le Ritz PDB, and hard-hitting rockabilly band Gutter Demons claws its way into Petit Campus. On Saturday night, California hip hop artist Vince Staples bring his words and beats to Le Belmont sur le Boulevard, Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra throws a big-band world-beat dance party at La Sala Rossa, and dubstep-turned-electro-house producer Borgore keeps the electro dance beats going at New City Gas. On Sunday, hear the eclectic classical-meets-electro-rock of Brooklyn composer and songwriter Ellis Ludwig-Leone as San Fermin at La Sala Rossa, The Get Up Kids keep up that ‘90s emo-rock spirit at Théâtre Fairmount, and down n’ dirty blues rockers Black Pistol Fire play Bar Le Ritz PDB. Monday night is all about the smooth vocals of The Tenors at Place des Arts, or if you’re into a different sound, listen to Sleater-Kinney’s Carrie Brownstein talk about making rock music and her memoir Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl at the Rialto Theatre. Rock out in art-punk style with Parquet Courts on December 8 at La Sala Rossa, or opt for the doomier indie-rock of the dudes in All Them Witches at Bar Le Ritz PDB. On December 9 at the Phi Centre, Montréal duo Le Matos releases a new double album that includes original music from the film Turbo Kid, and Ian Fletcher Thornley of Big Wreck goes solo and acoustic at Café Campus. And go dancing Thursday night to the soulful electronica of Haute at Newspeak.
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