September 5, 2019

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The landscape of the Quartier des Spectacles has changed dramatically in the last ten years, and it all started with the official opening of Place des Festivals on September 6, 2009. Located along Jeanne-Mance Street, between Sainte-Catherine and de Maisonneuve, the square is not only a big space for large crowds, it’s also attractive at a human scale: families and local workers can always be seen lounging by the central fountain, or even dining in the restaurants facing the square.

Place des Festivals has been a catalyst in several ways. Numerous real estate development projects have appeared around it, and it has become a true experimental space for the emergence of new types of installations and animation for public space.

Here’s a look back to mark the anniversary of an iconic place in the Quartier des Spectacles. We’ll revisit some highlights and share some interesting facts about Place des Festivals. Enjoy your visit!


From the 1960s until 2008, the future site of Place des Festivals was a large parking lot on an excessively very wide street. The improvement of the space led to the creation of a distinctive and flexible festive square that countless visitors and event organizers have enjoyed using.


Place des Festivals is…

• 6,141 m2 surface area
• 6,000 slabs
• 4 lighting superstructures, 24 metres tall
• 2 commercial spaces occupied by a pair of restaurants, Brasserie T and Taverne F

• 1 programmable fountain of 235 spouts
• 1 underground fibre-optic network with 102 connection points (power, sound, lighting)


Renée Daoust and Réal Lestage, of the Daoust Lestage firm of architects, urban planners, landscape architects and industrial designers, conceived the project first by creating the public space, then by designing the street furniture. Place des Festivals has won eight architecture and design awards since 2009, including a Governor General’s Medal in Architecture, presented by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.

“When I look at Place des Festivals today, I am happy to see that both residents and artists have embraced the space. Big events now take place in a large outdoor theatre that gives producers exceptional working conditions, which in turn leads to a better experience for festivalgoers. It took a lot of guts to put the square on the entire Balmoral block, and as far as I’m concerned that’s one of the keys to the success of the space – its scale. I also strongly believe that we made the right choices, particularly with the lighting structures. These large posts create virtual ceiling and are a signature element for the Quartier des Spectacles.” Réal Lestage, architect


“To create the Quartier des Spectacles in 2007, every level of government (federal, provincial, municipal) joined forces, which is very rare for a municipal cultural project. The first cornerstone was to be Place des Festivals. It was already a natural space for shows, but when there was no festival on it was a no-man’s land. The announcement was shock therapy for Montreal’s cultural heart, and the project was completed in just two years.” Claude Deschênes, author Tous pour un Quartier des spectacles

“In ten years, the square has become a hub for the big summer events, and for winter events as well, such as Luminothérapie. We decided on a vocation for it, and it’s still open and evolving. I find that a pleasant surprise. On a more personal note, in July 2014 RBO gave a show called The Tounes during the Just For Laughs Festival. It was a magical moment for both Place des Festivals and RBO.” Jacques Primeau, chair, Quartier des Spectacles Partnership Board of Directors

“One of the challenges for the Quartier des Spectacles is to animate our public spaces 365 days a year. One way to animate Place des Festivals in winter is Luminothérapie. Each year there’s a new experience, a new installation, and the teams always relish the challenge of doing better and being more original than ever. We’ve developed real expertise in winter outdoor animation. And now five Luminothérapie projects have toured to 33 cities since 2016.” Thomas Peltier and Laurence Montmarquette, members of the Quartier des Spectacles Partnership’s operations team

“It’s a key venue both for local artists and visiting artists playing their first show in Montreal. Many of them decide to end their tour in Place des Festivals. It has become an essential stop.” André Ménard, founder, Festival international de Jazz de Montréal

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