The joys of spring in the heart of the city
April 24, 2017
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It’s spring in the Quartier des Spectacles, and that means there’s all sorts of fun to be had! With installations like 21 Balançoires (21 Swings) and Maëstro, guided tours of the Quartier and the return of Les Jardins Gamelin, there are a ton of ways to enjoy an outing as a couple or in a group. Here are just a few.
Promenade des Artistes
Until June 18
Of course, when you’re with your sweetheart, a simple arm-in-arm stroll is a wonderful time. But a romantic stroll gets even better when you include a visit to the 21 Balançoires/21 Swings installation on the Promenade des Artistes. For the seventh year in a row, the swings are marking the official return of spring to the Quartier des Spectacles. This hit interactive musical installation – part game, part street furniture – has achieved undisputed icon status.
Designed by the Montreal-based creative duo of Mouna Andraos and Melissa Mongiat, of Daily tous les jours, each of the 21 swings sounds like one of four musical instruments: piano, guitar, harp or vibraphone. The height you swing determines the note that plays, and when you both swing at the same time a melody emerges. Try it out and make some beautiful music together!
For the whole family
Place des Festivals
May 8 to 18
Fun fact: Maëstro’s designers were inspired by a 3-year-old imitating an orchestra conductor! That might explain why kids love it so much. Now in its third year, the installation by ATOMIC3, designed for the Quartier des Spectacles, invites you to connect with your inner conductor and lead an aquatic concert.
Wielding a special sensor-equipped baton, the maestro of the moment controls the spouts of the fountain in the Place des Festivals, which respond to the participant’s motions and the rhythm of the music. Any adult who sees how much the little ones love it can’t help but take a turn at the podium.
And the more energy you put in, the higher the water shoots into the air, especially the central spout, which can spray as high as 10 metres. When you approach the podium, you’re greeted by musical sounds such as cymbal crashes, while some of the fountain spouts activate as a warm-up to the main event.
Show your guests around, or be a tourist at home
May 4 to October 8
In English: Saturday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
In French: Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Looking for things to show your out-of-town guests? Look no further! And you don’t have to be a tourist to enjoy an in-depth tour of Montreal’s cultural heart – locals also love this free guided tour of the Quartier des Spectacles, where you’ll find out how the district came to be, explore its public spaces, and get a behind-the-scenes peek at some of its legendary venues.
The two-hour walking tour, led by a graduate of the Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec, is offered three times a week – twice in French and once in English. The tour is now in its fifth year, and it’s a three-time recipient of certificates of excellence awarded by the TripAdvisor website.
May 18 to October 15
Daily until 11 p.m.
When you just want to hang out with your buddies, there’s nothing better than a relaxed, fun place where you can do whatever you want – or nothing at all. If that sounds like you, then you already know why Les Jardins Gamelin was an instant hit with Montrealers. It has a big, comfortable terrasse, beautiful overhead lighting, luxuriant vegetation, and vegetable gardens. In other words, it’s a perfect place for friends to get together.
There are delicious snacks and cold drinks, and there’s always an activity going on between noon and 11 p.m. – everything from dancing to art to excellent live music. It’s also worth dropping by to see 1.26, the enormous hanging sculpture by acclaimed artist Janet Echelman. The monumental work, illuminated at night, fills the sky over Les Jardins Gamelin throughout the season. It has become more than just a landmark: it’s a Quartier des Spectacles emblem.