Winter festival MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE enchants and entertains

Robyn Fadden

A winter festival of arts and culture with an extravagant foodie twist, MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE serves up a blizzard of activities in downtown Montréal and beyond: book a multi-course meal with a famed French chef, see jazz greats on stage and even ride a Ferris wheel in the snow.

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Wintery events, day and night

One of the largest winter festivals in the world, MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE makes a winter visit to Montréal well worth it, whether you're looking for culinary adventure, a romantic getaway or a family-friendly holiday. From February 22 to March 4, 2018, the festival warms us up with an excellent program of performing arts and innumerable gastronomic options, and also keeps us active outdoors with all kinds of activities at the action-and-art packed outdoor site. All that plus epic all-nighter, city-wide event Nuit blanche on March 3.


Food glorious food

The MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE fine dining program aims to satisfy all appetites with gourmet meals at top restaurants, food trucks outdoors, workshops with renowned chefs, and more. This year, many of the food-related activities focus on the theme “Celebrating Knowledge,” from the in-depth and delicious wine and cheese events to chef pairings for Air France Finest Tables, from Family Cooking Workshops to flavour-filled conferences. This year's featured region, Côte-Nord, offers a taste of Québec's boreal forest. Meanwhile, st the outdoor site find all manner of food trucks, pop-up bars, hot chocolate, desserts, and Gourmet Pit-Stops for local cheeses, beer and more.

Indoor entertainment

Choose from over 100 indoor performances and concerts at large theatres or intimate music venues in the city around Montréal, most within the centrally located Quartier des Spectacles. See the contemporary dance of the Martha Graham Dance Company and flamenco dance sensation Compañía Eva Yerbabuena, as well as professional theatre productions Amok and Marjorie Prime, and circus shows Freakeasy Circus and Coups de cœur. Among the many celebrated musical talents coming to the festival, see opera singer Marie-Josée Lord in concert, jazz vocalist Gregory Porter, pop-folk band The Franklin Electric, dazzling Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Touré, bewitching singer-songwriter Ala.Ni, Maritimes singer-songwriter David Myles, jazz singer Stacey Kent, songsmith Isabelle Boulay, inventive pop-rockers Random Recipe, Karen Young and Coral Egan, Misunderstood: A Nina Simone Celebration, plus more visiting musicians and other talented Québécois artists like Vincent Vallières, Marie Denise Pelletier, Coco Méliès, Gabrielle Shonk and Papagroove.

Free outdoor site

A central hub for all the MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE action, the family-friendly outdoor site awaits in the middle of the Quartier des Spectacles. There you'll find a giant outdoor stage, a Ferris wheel, ice slides, a zip line, a curling rink, the Casino de Montréal ILLUMINART interactive art installations, food trucks and kiosks, bars and bistros, activity zones for kids and more. Two metro stations serve the festival site (Place des Arts and Saint-Laurent) and it's within easy walking distance of many downtown hotels.

Weather and what to wear

The historical average Montréal temperature for this time of the year ranges from -2 Celsius (daytime) to -12 (nighttime), though it can be much colder with the wind chill or possibly much warmer. The rule of thumb is to prepare for the worst and hope for the best, especially if you’re going to spend time at the outdoor site: warm boots with wooly socks, a hat that covers your ears, a scarf, warm waterproof gloves. And if you need a winter wardrobe update or a stylish new outfit to wear to dinner, there's no shortage of great places to go shopping in Montréal. Keep all that in mind for MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE's biggest hurrah, the all-nighter event Nuit blanche, featuring over 200 mostly free activities until 3 a.m. and, in some cases, even later. Stay warm, have fun!

Robyn Fadden

Robyn Fadden, blogger

Robyn Fadden is a Montréal-based writer and editor who searches out city secrets, new bands, life-changing art and things to do with her perpetually active kid. Robyn has covered major events for HOUR, MUTEK, ARTINFO, CKUT 90.3FM and more.

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