© Merry Montreal
Merrymaking in the Old Port
It’s only fitting that we kick off with Merry Montréal’s free New Year’s Eve Party on the Old Port’s Quai Jacques-Cartier because it is THE outdoor concert, countdown and dance party on this night. Now in its seventh edition, Merry Montréal pulls out all the stops for its live music roster every year, uniting many of Québec’s most talented musicians – which this year includes Bleu Jeans Bleu, Heartstreets, Bernard Adamus and more, hosted by comedian Neev – on the big stage. The site opens at 7 pm and the concerts kick off at 10 pm, followed by the New Year’s countdown at 11:59 pm, fireworks at midnight and then a dance party featuring DJ Magic Stan from 12:15 to 2 am. In short, Merry Montréal’s got you completely covered.
Old Montréal, NYE-style
Old Montréal’s many luxury boutique hotels roll out the red carpet on New Year’s Eve and provide superb jumping off (or staying in) points for the night. The W Montréal, with its chic, in-house bars (including the new Bartizen, an intimate 1940s-inspired lounge specializing in Québec gins), is a one-stop New Year’s Eve shop. Towards the Old Port, the stylish and contemporary Hôtel William Gray will host its lavish Prohibition soirée (“Make indulgence your 2020 resolution”) on its heated eighth floor terrasse with dancing, food stations and a spectacular view of the aforementioned midnight fireworks. The elegant Hôtel Nelligan (with its beautiful view of the St. Lawrence River) will host a special New Year’s dinner at its Verses Bistro (stone walls, roaring fire, live music… heaven). Also look for the warmly wonderful Hôtel Place d’Armes to get into the seasonal swing of things as it transforms into a masked ball for its Mascarade party. The historic, amazingly old world Auberge Saint-Gabriel, and its stone-walled Velvet Speakeasy nightclub, is renowned for its legendary parties. What to expect: “The glow of fires and beautiful tables, set with good meals. Vinyl hits the decks as music fills the maze of halls. Wander through a dance party that never ends.” And on a night that’s famous for champagne, go to where they take the bubbly stuff seriously, the lively Maison Saint-Paul, a chic “sabering” champagne resto-bar where they’ll even lend you a sabre to slash open your bottle.
© Rosélys Restaurant
Ritzing it up downtown
As is the custom, Montréal’s beautifully restored Ritz-Carlton Montréal, at its haute cuisine, in-house restaurant Maison Boulud, will be hosting its annual New Year’s Dinner soirée, offering a four-course menu on the first service and a seven-course tasting menu option for the second service. Getting in on the exclusive New Year’s action is also the esteemed (and imaginatively renovated and redesigned) Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth hotel. Sporting new-look, contemporary décor, the “Queen E” will be attacking New Year’s Eve on two fronts: Rosélys Restaurant will host a seven-course festive menu complete with champagne and a live band, while Nacarat, with its reputation for outstanding mixology, is the place for cocktails, a special New Year’s menu, bubbly at midnight and dancing courtesy of Montréal DJ royalty, JoJo Flores. Over in the Quartier des spectacles, with its commanding views of downtown and Place des Arts, the DoubleTree By Hilton Montréal (formerly the Hyatt Regency Hotel) keeps the tradition alive by hosting the very popular, formal-attire New Year’s Eve Gala in its Grand Salon. A three-course meal with VIP treatment is one option, VIP open-bar tix without dinner is another and straight-up general admission are all on the menu.
© Société des Casinos du Québec
Sure-bet New Year’s Eve winners
The Casino de Montréal has a full menu of New Year’s activities and live performances that defy the rules of time. Free shows at le Valet de carreau bar (and a midnight countdown on its massive multimedia wall) commence at 1 pm with Bardas (traditional Québécois music featuring accordion, violin and guitar), and then more bands and DJ sets follow all the way until 5 am. The party is casino-wide with the Pavillon du Québec and bars Dame de cœur and Roi de pique also getting in on the action. Additionally, the Casino’s five restaurants, including that of three-Michelin-star French chef Joël Robuchon, will be open and serving up festive menus on a first-come, first-served basis. Le Balcon on Sainte-Catherine Street will be doing what it does best when it brings the house down with a soul, Motown, funk and groove live music mix featuring vocalist Shaharah (and full live band) belting out classics by the likes of Mary J. Blige, Michael Jackson, Lauryn Hill, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder and more. The dinner-and-show ticket includes a four-course menu, the show and a glass of bubbly at midnight. However, if the ‘80s are more to your tastes, restored cinema/theatre La Tulipe’s popular Pop 80 Fête 2020 dance night will host a special New Year’s edition complete with champagne and canapés at the stroke of midnight.
©Bier Markt Montréal
Bust a move downtown
Get the night flying at Jet Nightclub, Crescent Street’s largest nightclub, which is promising the “ultimate VIP treatment!” for you and 999 of your friends, music of the house/hip-hop/club anthem variety, a live countdown on giant screens, a huge balloon drop and party favours for all. Also keeping the Crescent Street New Year’s energy peaking is Club Electric Avenue with an ’80s-’90s vibe and countdown on two giants screens, as well as Copacabana, which will be spinning Top 40, house, R&B and electro, and promises party favours for everyone. A couple blocks away, Le CinQ offers a singular dancing environment: it’s situated in the private chapel of a heritage building. Its annual New Year’s Eve Madness event features several packages – ranging from “Senseless” through “Irrational” to “Crazy” and up to “Insane” – for a party that spans three rooms. And the only thing insane about Bier Markt Montreal is the number of beers it has on hand: over 150 from over 25 countries (with European-style food pairings that range from charcuterie to oysters to, whoa, a 50 oz. steak) and, of course, a beer cheers when the ball drops. And just to make sure all bases are covered, Montréal institution the Sir Winston Churchill Pub Complex has all the things on three floors under one roof: a nightclub with a bangin’ dance floor, a live music pub space, and a laid-back club lounge with a glamorous décor. You could pay a small cover for each, or a $75 VIP pass will get you into all three. Each ticket comes with a 200 ml bottle of sparkling wine.
© Eva Blue
Insane on the Main
Over on Saint-Laurent Boulevard – or “The Main” as it’s known to the homegrown – there’s club scene action all along the strip, beginning on lower Saint-Laurent. The ultra-modern Society for Arts and Technology (a.k.a. the SAT) is one of the more unique spaces in the city, and this year’s dance party in the immersive, one-of-a-kind “Satosphère” space (featuring lasers, lights and projections) will be helmed by techno/house DJs La Mverte, Oktober Lieber and Tony Dancer. And just half a stone’s throw north, at classic Quartier des spectacles venue Club Soda, the annual Fluid New Years dance party will be in full effect for its 20th anniversary. The operative term at Fluid is “all-inclusive”: admission, coat check, open bar all night and all tips are included in the price, so they invite you to leave your wallet at home and take advantage of the 10 bars they will have in operation. A short stroll up Saint-Laurent will bring you to the classy and sassy BLVD 44 in unique boutique HOTEL10 (with its incomparable architecture and location) — its NYE party is always in high-demand with a “high fashion” dress code and tunes that run the range from house to hip-hop to Top 40. Further up the street, the two floors (one a lounge, the other a dance club) of party mainstay Rouge Bar will be bouncing to the sound of hip-hop, club anthems and Top 40, while over at Muzique similar musical stylings will be on offer in multiple themed rooms for its 11th consecutive Montréal Ball, “where the champagne never stops flowing, the music never stops playing, the jewels never come off and the party never ends...”
© Tourisme Montréal, Bruno Guérin
Only-in-MTL party places
Three rather extraordinary venues will be throwing bashes in the city’s burgeoning southwest district, beginning with wholly unique Griffintown party palace New City Gas, built in the historic, industrial-age New City Gas complex that lit Montréal streets once upon a time. There are five tiers of tickets and things get bumpin’ at 9 pm. Over in Little Burgundy, the Final Fantasy New Year’s Eve event takes place in the Le Salon Richmond space, the reimagined former Saint Joseph’s Church built in 1861. Its 40-foot arched ceilings will provide a heavenly backdrop for this fully tricked out, VIP New Year’s experience for some 1,200 folks. And restaurant Les Enfants Terribles and the Observatoire Place Ville Marie take New Year’s celebrations to new heights (literally) at the top of the iconic Place Ville Marie skyscraper. After a 5-course gourmet meal at Les Enfants Terribles on the 44th floor, attendees will be invited to the observatory on the 46th floor to continue festivities including the big midnight countdown, watching the fireworks with champagne in hand and, after that, a DJ, bar and dance floor.
Where the party never ends
If you’re the kind of person who only gets the party started by the time most clubs are closing, the Gay Village has the answer for all New Year’s Eve night owls. Circus will close the book on 2019 with the fourth edition of its annual “Epilogue” New Year’s event, a total of 12 hours of partying in three rooms (trance, techno and hip-hop) starting at 10 pm and headlined by Swiss progressive house DJ Daniel Portman. And at the nearby Stereo – which boasts the city’s best sound system – they’ll be going for 19 hours (yes, you read that correctly) at their two spaces. The fifth edition of their Vision NYE party, featuring Chicago Serge Devant, Luca Bacchetti, and Hicky & Kalo, starts at 1 am on the night of December 31 and ends on January 1 at 8 pm. Godspeed.
© Méchant Boeuf Bar-Brasserie
Eat like it’s your last day (of 2019)
Resolve to eat well this New Year’s Eve as Montréal’s many world-class restaurants get creative with their cuisine. To wit, let Maggie Oakes, where the finest Québec-produced foods are featured, offer you a luxurious environment and special four-course and five-course sittings, live music and burlesque artists. Delivering lively evenings for the past 11 years, the popular Méchant Boeuf Bar-Brasserie is preparing festive three-course and five-course sittings with a DJ spinning tunes deep into the night. Pastis is king Modavie, where they’re putting together a special five-course Mediterranean holiday menu complete with live music, and expect an equally lively atmosphere at BEVO Bar + Pizzeria, where they’ll offer a four-course menu of traditional Italian cuisine. Enjoy a four-course menu of gourmet comfort food and live music all night in Taverne Gaspar’s warm and rustic setting, while the elegant, Parisian pub-inspired Brasserie 701 will have specially prepared three-course and five-course services. Kyo Bar Japonais is promising to transport patrons “9,000 km from Montréal” with its three-course and nine-course New Year’s Eve izakaya menus and selection of over 25 sakes. The much-loved Vieux-Port Steakhouse will ring in the New Year with a gourmet buffet, an open bar and bubbly at midnight. And restaurants in the city’s Little Italy district are getting into the swing of things in a big way with inventive and outstanding holiday menus from the likes of Cucina Antica, Corneli Restaurant and Quindici 15 (which will also have live music and the sparkly stuff at midnight).