The most action in 1 km² this spring and summer!

May 8, 2014

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The heat is officially on underway in the Quartier des spectacles, with an unbeatable lineup of cultural activities. Any time of day, Montrealers and tourists who visit the city’s liveliest square kilometre will find something to sink their teeth into thanks to an exceptional program presented by more than 20 producers.

A conversation with journalist Claude Deschênes and a list of the season’s events and activities.

Claude, you hosted the launch event for the Quartier des Spectacles spring-summer season. What’s your take on the program for the coming months?

I’m delighted to see that all of the Quartier des Spectacles partners arewilling to participate. That makes the line-up so exciting you could say it’s mind-blowing! Most of these organizations existed before the Quartier des Spectacles was created, but they were doing their own thing. Now that the Quartier is there to bring them together, you can see them developing a sense of belonging and a desire to promote the brand. The big winner is the public. Montreal is in love with all the amazing creativity happening downtown.

Any favourites?

Every time I walk along the Promenade des Artistes, my heart is warmed by the happiness on the faces of everyone swinging on 21 Balançoires. I like Vision Diversité’s idea of having children from the Marguerite-Bourgeoys school board be the stars of its UNESCO World Cultural Diversity Day celebration on May 22. And I am curious to see the Spectron, the augmented-reality binoculars that will allow people to see the Quartier’s social and artistic history from 1976 on.

What comes to mind when you think of the Quartier des spectacles?

A red dot. I like the trail of spots on the Quartier’s sidewalks. They’re contagious! When I started mentioning the Quartier on the news, 10 years ago, I had trouble conveying the highly abstract concept of the Quartier’s visual signature. The venues were there, the audiences were there, but how could the space itself be identified? The red dot, a callback to the Red Light District of yesteryear, is an image that made a mark on me – a brand in the truest sense!

Here is a list of events happening in the Quartier des Spectacles this summer. Good news: everything in the public spaces is free of charge!

  • Guided tours of McLaren Wall-to-Wall. Until May 29. These 90-minute evening tours allow participants to discover or rediscover the series of video projections in tribute to filmmaker Norman McLaren.
  • 21 balançoires. Until June 1. The iconic installation on the Promenade des Artistes, by the Daily tous les jours collective, is back this year to put a smile on the face of everyone who sits down, swings and enjoys the beautiful sounds that result.
  • Accès Asie. Until May 18. This festival of Asian culture features Vent d’Asie (May 17, 5:30 p.m.), a multi-artist revue at Place des Festivals.
  • International Digital Arts Biennial. Until June 19. The Quartier des Spectacles is participating in this event, showcasing works by contemporary artists, by presenting the monumental EOTONE in Place des Festivals from May 23 to 30.
  • Sainte-Catherine Street activities. Until September 1. Between De Bleury and Saint-Laurent, Sainte-Catherine will be closed to vehicle traffic. The pedestrian zone will feature concerts by up-and-coming artists as well as street performers.
  • Guided tours of the Quartier des spectacles. Until September 14. The Quartier’s two-and-a-half-hour guided tours are back this year. Take one and learn all about the Quartier’s past and present.
  • Pouzzafest. May 16 to 18. This punk rock festival includes an outdoor component with a concert by Xavier Caféine and activities for kids.
  • Cet été chez Émilie. May 17 to August 26. There’s something new in Place Émilie-Gamelin this year: Trobadero, four interactive installations set up as an urban sculpture garden.
  • Spectron. May 17 to June 1. Located on the Place des Arts Esplanade, these special binoculars will allow Montrealers to travel through the history of the Quartier des Spectacles from 1976 to the present day.
  • Vivre ensemble. May 21. To mark UNESCO’s World Cultural Diversity Day, 1,500 students from the Marguerite-Bourgeoys school board will give short performances from theatre to dance to poetry.
  • Festival TransAmériques (FTA). May 22 to June 7. This festival of contemporary dance and theatre will present a participatory installation on the Clark Esplanade: a “think tank” filled with 25,000 balls inscribed with quotations from the Stoic philosophers.
  • Quartier Latin patio season grand opening. May 23 and 24. Saint-Denisbetween Sherbrooke and De Maisonneuve, will be in party mode thanks to live music presented by Osheaga.
  • Montreal Museums Day. May 25. Free admission to 34 different museums. On the Promenade des Artistes, you are invited to join MU in painting a collective mural.
  • EM15. May 27 to June 1. To celebrate their 15th anniversaries, the Elektra and Mutek festivals are joining forces this year to present a single spectacular digital arts festival.
  • Festival international Montréal en arts (FIMA). June 11 to 15. Place Émilie-Gamelin becomes an open-air gallery.
  • Outdoor movies. June 13 to September 26. The SAT presents a series of film screenings atPlace de la Paix.
  • Les FrancoFolies de Montréal. June 12 to 22. This can’t-miss music festival includes 150 outdoor concerts, including rock star Éric Lapointe (June 17, 9 p.m.).
  • Festival international de jazz de Montréal. June 26 to July 6. Now in its 35th year, the Jazz Festival presents a fantastic program of 350 outdoor concerts. Random Recipe performs onJune 28 at 9 p.m.
  • Le Quartier latin en fête. June 27 to 29. This festival features live music and a bicycle-jumping competition.
  • Montréal complètement cirque. July 2 to 13. For the fifth year in a row, the world’s biggest circus festival will take over the east end of the Quartier des Spectacles, with the Babel_remix show at Place Émilie-Gamelin at the heart of the action.
  • Festival international Nuits d’Afrique. July 8 to 20. The festival’s five days of outdoor programming (July 16 through 20) include several activities and concerts, among them the Bal de l’Afrique enchantée (July 19), to get everyone up and dancing.
  • Zoofest. July 10 to August 3. Zoofest is all about edgy shows by up-and-comers in comedy, music and theatre.
  • Juste pour rire. July 12 to 26. The annual comedy festival boasts no fewer than 700 outdoor activities, including The Tounes, a Rock et Belles Oreilles reunion on the stage at Place des Festivals (July 23).
  • Fantasia. July 17 to August 5. This film festival presents the world’s best genre cinema.
  • Montreal First Peoples Festival. July 29 to August 5. An immense tipi will be set up at Place des Festivals to signal the return of this festival celebrating First Nations culture.
  • Fierté Montréal Pride. August 11 to 17. The festival of LGBT culture has more than 60 activities this year, including the famous Pride Parade and a show featuring 15 artists including them Laurence Jalbert, Mado and Lulu Hughes.
  • OSM Couche-Tard Cool Classical Journey. August 15 and 16. 30 concerts in 2 days.Discover great masters of classical music in a marathon of low-cost 45-minute concerts in four Place des Arts venues.
  • Montreal World Film Festival. August 21 to September 1. As always, the festival presents a series of outdoor screenings. New this year: a partnership with the Fashion and Design Festival.
  • Les escales improbables de Montréal. August 30 to October 10. FeaturingRedBall Montréal, an enormous inflatable red ball that appears in different locastions throughout the city and Infinitas Locis, a video project that reimagines the spaces of the Quartier des Spectacles.
  • OUMF Montréal. September 4 to 6. This year the emerging arts festival, held in the Quartier Latin, includes extra programming presented in collaboration with M pour Montréal.

Plan your Quartier visit: Festivals and events all year long