The Montreal International Jazz Festival invites over 3000 musicians together from dozens of countries, for well over a thousand performances, most of which are free. We wouldn't have the chance to see much of the festival, as it began during our final night in Montreal. But we did get a taste.
Every Sunday, a curious gathering takes place on the slopes of Mont Royal, near the statue of Sir George-Étienne Cartier. Men and women bring their tam-tams, grab a seat, and spend the entire afternoon pounding out impromptu rhythms, smoking and dancing. You might be thinking, "This sounds like it'd be popular with hippies." And you would be right.
A unique gallery, studio and school dedicated to glass-blowing, Espace Verre was created in 1983 by two artists who wanted to give people in Montreal the chance to learn the artform. The small, private institution is based in a former fire hall in the industrial zone of Pointe-Saint-Charles, and is regularly open to visitors.
Street art is a phenomenon which hip cities long ago stopped trying to fight, and started to embrace. When it's well-done, street art can beautify otherwise drab buildings, provoke thought, and even drive tourism. If you've ever wondered how the artists manage to make use of their building-sized canvases, you should check out Montreal's Mural Festival, where you can see them at work.
Since arriving in Montreal, we had been planning to check out the Museum of Fine Arts, but kept finding reasons to postpone our visit. "It's too sunny out for a museum," or "it's Sunday, and will be too crowded," or "it's already too late, and we won't be able to see everything." But if we're being honest, the museum simply intimidated us. With over 40,000 pieces in its permanent collection, this the largest and most important museum in Montreal, and one that requires a lot of time to see properly.
An uncensored celebration of independent theater at its most creative, the St-Ambroise Fringe Festival entertains Montreal with over 800 performances spread across twenty days. We were in town during the festival's 26th year of existence, and couldn't resist taking in a show... the only problem was deciding which to see.
Housed in the former French Pavilion from the 1967 World Expo, Montreal's state-run casino opened in 1993, and has become one of the most popular spots in the city. This is the largest casino in Canada, and is as memorable for its unique architecture as for its rollicking atmosphere. We were invited to check it out on a Saturday night.
Located within a nineteenth-century shipyard in the neighborhood of Griffintown, Arsenal is a private gallery dedicated to contemporary art. We stopped by to check out the space, and see if we could make any sense out of the collection.
Founded in 1964, the Musée d'Art Contemporain was the first museum in Canada dedicated entirely to works of contemporary art. In 1991, the MAC moved into its new location on the Place des Arts, where it hosts exhibitions from the world's most famous contemporary artists.
At first glance, you might mistake the gleaming dome on Boulevard St. Laurent for that of a modern mosque. But in fact, it's an immersive exhibition space utilized by Montreal's Society of Technological Arts, or SAT. SAT is a collective of artists and engineers dedicated to a wide array of projects, from mind-bending multimedia shows in the dome, to practical networking and communication applications.