Montréal en lumière: Light up the winter!

February 14, 2012

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Montrealers: Are you like me? Have you become perplexed by just how reluctant we are to collectively embrace winter?

by Marie-Pierre Bouchard
It’s true! We often aren't suited to our own environment, but there are some exceptions. On ski slopes or snowmobile paths, for instance, Quebec people brave the cold with a joie de vivre that's positively refreshing, merrily giving in to an inner child who wants to do nothing but play outside, good weather or bad. Oh, but in the city? Grumbling, mopey, and wimpy, we spend far too much time indoors. Why bother freezing outside when we'll only slip on frozen sidewalks and grow bored of a monotonous landscape? So we boil water for tea and try to avoid looking out the window. Grind away at the grey while dreaming of colours. Toast friends in the comfort of the kitchen. Maybe give ourselves a short week somewhere warm. Until then, we lust for springtime wrapped up in blankets and snuggled into a couch somewhere.

It's a good thing that wintertime cultural events are there to warm the hearts of Montrealers who love festive gatherings. And it's even better that there's more and more of these activities every year. Is Montreal quiet in the wintertime? No way! The city still moves to the rhythm of inspiring, energizing events that get people together, and the MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE Festival just might be the best example. Since its beginnings in 2000 the festival has sunk deep roots into the local landscape, becoming one of the must-see events on the Montreal cultural calendar, one of the biggest winter festivals in the world, and a wild experience that draws 900,000 visitors every year. Come see and taste what urban winter can really be when you let yourself get spun around by this whirlpool for the senses: eleven days of music, theatre, fine cuisine, outdoor family activities, illuminated architectural installations, and a packed, eclectic Nuit Blanche program to top it all off!

This 13th edition of MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE will turn the spotlight on some big names, from here and elsewhere: from the OSM to Diane Tell, from Arthur H to Jorane and the Orchestre I Musici de Montréal. Who else? Coeur de Pirate, My Little Cheap Dictaphone, Eté 67, the Orchestre Métropolitain, the Barr Brothers, Bïa, Stromae, Catherine Major... a total almost fifty artists and groups are on the calendar, including theatre, classical music, dance, jazz, world music and more (check out the complete program for all the details). The closing evening promises to be even more fantastic, when Luc de Larochellière and a dozen other artists pay tribute to none other than Jacques Brel at the Maison Symphonique.

The gastronomical part of MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE is, quite simply, unique in all the world. Bringing gourmands and gourmets together with internationally renowned chefs and winemakers for workshops, culinary tours, and more (all the details are here).

Outdoors in the Quartier des Spectacles, a group of fascinating architectural illuminations will continue until the end of the Festival. If you haven't already managed to come and see them, here's your final chance!

There's something for everyone, and this rich program puts Montreal's wintertime vitality on full display. It's a great way to soak up the festive spirit that makes our city so special, and a marvelous opportunity to get out and get moving. I know I'll certainly be there. Will you?