Montreal is a city of festivals. Throughout the summer and well into the winter months the nightlife of this cosmopolitan city revolves around a series of festivals which draw hundreds of thousands of spectators and participants. For the best of Montreal by night, plan your visit around one of these spectacular events.
Perhaps the best known is the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal, a two week party featuring hundreds of performances drawing on the talents of over one thousand musicians. The city comes alive with music at venues across the island. Portable stages sprout on the streets and in the parks and jazz fills the air. Past festivals have included the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Chick Corea and the legendary Dave Brubeck For more information, see the festival website at www.montrealjazzfest.com
The night skies explode each summer when the Concours d’Art International Pyrotechnique or International Fireworks Festival invades the city. Each Saturday night starting in late June and continuing through August the greatest and most innovative fireworks companies in the world vie for the coveted grand prize. The island amusement park at La Ronde situated in the St Lawrence is ground zero and spectators can buy a ticket to the park to get a close up view, or simply line the shores from the Jacques Cartier bridge to the old port. See their website at www.montrealfeux.com
Tickle your funny bone at the Juste pour Rire or Just for Laughs Festival each July. The festival attracts big names like Ray Romano and Lewis Black along with unknown comics, street performers and rising stars turning the city into one big comedy club. From the Big Event Finale held at Grand-Place Loto-Quebec to seven minute bits on impromptu stages in the middle of Rue St. Denis, there is something for everyone, including a free feast called Le Grande Bouffe. More info at www.hahaha.com
Not even the bitter Canadian winter can stop the revellers of this great city. Late February nights, when most would curl up with a good book in front of a fire, the Festival Montreal en Lumiere or Montreal High Lights Festival takes to the streets. This 10 day Winter Carnival features food, drink, music, dance concerts, sleigh rides, ice sculptures and a display of architectural lighting in the Old Port aimed at turning Montreal into the new world city of lights. It all culminates in the aptly named Montreal All-Nighter, with the party going ’til dawn. Find out more at: www.montrealenlumiere.com
If you somehow manage to find yourself in Montreal when there is no festival, there is still plenty of nightlife. The bars and restaurants of the Old Port glow late into the night and the bohemian streets of the Latin Quarter near the University are perfect for strolling, bar hopping and people watching. From jazz to comedy, fireworks to ice sculptures, great restaurants and a lively club scene, Montreal by night truly has something for everybody.