8 brilliant ways to enjoy Montréal en lumière

February 17, 2015

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Every winter, the Montréal en lumière festival works hard to keep its free outdoor programming fresh and exciting. This year, from February 19 to March 1, several new attractions will join returning favourites like the Urban Slide on the Place des Arts Esplanade, including a Mini Slide for kids under 6. We asked Laurent Saulnier, Montréal en lumière’s vice president of programming and production, to shed some light on the festival’s bright spots.

Get a bird’s eye view of the site with the zipline

This new activity is sure to be a favourite. The long new zipline extends from Balmoral to Saint-Urbain, right over Sainte-Catherine St. “It could become one of the festival’s signature attractions, like the slide,” Mr. Saulnier says. “The system is similar to the one used in the countryside by Arbraska, which is in charge of the project. But the experience is completely different in the city!”.

Delight your senses at the Jardin de lumière

An all-new light garden will be open at the corner of Sainte-Catherine and Bleury. “Every sense will be brought into play,” says Mr. Saulnier. “It’s a one-stop microcosm of what Montréal en lumière is all about.” Surrounded by giant illuminated installations, festivalgoers will be able to taste a wide range of delicious treats: salmon smoked on-site, meatballs, sugar pie, Swiss delicacies…

Salute the featured country, Switzerland

When they arrive on-site, festivalgoers could be forgiven for thinking they’ve been transported to Switzerland. The Maison de la Suisse will serve up some delicious surprises, and screen the film La Suisse vue du ciel by Yann Arthus Bertrand. There will also be a video projection on the outside of the pavilion by one of the world’s top design schools, the Geneva University of Art and Design. At the foot of the Esplanade, warm up with a cheese fondue, while on Sainte-Catherine Street a photo exhibition will take you to the land of mountains and cheese.

Make light work

In the Place des Festivals, The Pool, an immersive interactive installation by American artist Jen Lewin, invites visitors to make their own luminous work using over a hundred colourful discs placed on the ground. By jumping from disc to disc, participants leap into another world. “It’s best when you’re part of a team,” says Mr. Saulnier. “That’s when the real fun starts. You don’t just interact with the work, but with all the other people participating.”

Enjoy Stephan Eicher and his robotic band

February 28, 8 p.m. Théâtre Maisonneuve, Place des Arts The honorary co-chair of Montréal en lumière, Stephan Eicher, brings his new show to our side of the Atlantic. The Swiss singer will be alone on stage – almost! He will be accompanied by an all-robot band. “It’s an intriguing and bold idea,” says Mr. Saulnier. “The show just premiered in Paris, so we haven’t heard much about it yet. It’s sure to be surprising.”

Discover the world of Kaki King

February 27, 8 p.m., Club Soda

“This show by guitarist Kaki King is the festival’s best-kept secret,” Mr. Saulnier claims. “The Neck is a Bridge to the Body is an extraordinary multimedia performance that’s as much a visual experience as an auditory one, thanks to luminous projections that unite the guitarist with her instrument.”

Check out some exclusive concerts

“The Montréal en lumière festival works hand in hand with producers to present as many premieres and homecoming shows as possible. It’s very important to us,” Mr. Saulnier stresses. This year’s noteworthy performances include concerts by Marie-Pierre Arthur (February 26, 8 p.m., Club Soda), Bobby Bazini (February 26, 8 p.m., Métropolis), Bruno Pelletier and Guy St-Onge with the Orchestre Métropolitain (February 19, 8 p.m., Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier), Stefie Shock (February 19, 8 p.m., Club Soda), Mara Tremblay (February 24, 8 p.m., Club Soda), Daran (February 20, 8 p.m., Gesù) and Guillaume Beauregard (February 25, 8 p.m., Gesù).

Warm up by dancing outside

Every night, the festival presents an outdoor concert at the Place des Festivals. There will also be two family-oriented afternoon shows: Les petites tounes (February 21 and 28, 2 p.m.) and Benoit Archambault (February 22, 2 p.m.).

During Nuit Blanche (February 28), following the concert by Misteur Valaire (8 p.m.), Ariane Moffatt will play a DJ set with some of her friends. “We’re planning a whole promotion around hashtag #22h22, the title of her new album, which will be released in March,” says Mr. Saulnier. “At 10:22 p.m., we’ll ask people to take a selfie which we’ll project on the giant tubes set up on either side of the stage.”

Montréal en lumière

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