Your guide to New Year’s Eve in Montréal
If there’s any hint of a hangover after 365 straight days of partying in honour of Montréal’s 375th birthday this past year, you won’t see any evidence of it on what is always the wildest night of celebration in the city: New Year’s Eve. While it would be nigh on impossible to catalogue all the craziness, let the following guide get the ball rolling (dropping?) on your rockin’ New Year’s Eve.
Merry, um, New Year’s!
It’s only fitting that we kick off with La Finale free New Year’s Party in Old Montréal’s Place Jacques-Cartier because it is THE outdoor concert, countdown and dance party on this night. Capping the aforementioned year of 375th anniversary celebrations, Merry Montréal and La Finale pulls out all the stops for its live music roster this year, uniting many of Québec’s best musicians – Daniel Bélanger, Vincent Vallières, Champion and his G-Strings, Pierre Kwenders, Mes Aïeux and more – on the big stage. The site opens at 6 pm and the main show gets rolling at 9 pm. At 11:45 pm there will be a special illumination of the Jacques-Cartier Bridge, followed by the New Year’s countdown at 11:59 pm, fireworks at midnight and then a dance party from 12:15 to 2 am. In short, Merry Montréal’s got you completely covered.
Kicking off the new in Old Montréal hotels
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 three chic, in-house bars (Wunderbar, Plateau Lounge and “the smallest bar in Montréal,” Bartini), is a one-stop New Year’s Eve shop. Towards the Old Port, the stylish and contemporary Hôtel William Gray and the elegant Hôtel Nelligan (with its beautiful view of the Saint Lawrence River) offer prestigious vantage points for taking in the aforementioned fireworks. Also look for the warmly wonderful Place d’Armes Hôtel & Suites and design-award-winning Hôtel St. Paul to get into the seasonal swing of things. And although the historic, amazingly old world Auberge Saint-Gabriel, and its stone-walled Velvet Speakeasy nightclub, is no longer famous for being an inn, the restaurant is, however, renowned for its legendary parties, Canadian Grand Prix, Halloween, Christmas and especially New Year’s among them.
Ritzing it up
As is the custom, Montréal’s beautifully restored Ritz-Carlton Hotel, at its haute cuisine, in-house restaurant Maison Boulud, will be hosting their annual New Year’s Dinner soirée. This year they’ve added a course to each of the two services of next-next-level chefdom, bumping it up to a four-course tasting menu on the first service, and a seven-course option for the second service. A live jazz band will be on hand to provide the proper gastronomic ambiance for this “culinary experience.” 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 three fronts: restaurant Rosélys will host a seven-course menu complete with champagne, live music, a DJ and party favours. Bar Nacarat, with its reputation for outstanding mixology, is the place for cocktails, champagne, sweets, shared plates, live music and more (by reservation only). And innovative new main floor space Agora will be rolling out dinner and a party with live music, a DJ, dancing and countdown. Over in the Quartier des Spectacles, with its commanding views of downtown and Place des Arts, the Hyatt Regency Hotel will once again be hosting their very popular, formal-attire New Year’s Gala in their Grand Salon. A three-course meal with VIP treatment is one option, VIP tix without dinner is another and straight-up general admission are all on the menu.
In the “Dinner and a Show Dept.”
The Casino de Montréal has a full menu of New Year’s activities that defy the rules of time. Free shows at the Valet de carreau bar (with its massive multimedia wall) commence at 4 pm with The Play List cover band, and then more bands and DJ sets follow all the way until 6 am. Casino patrons will also be treated to dancers, a photo booth, makeup station, hats and maracas (all for free) in the countdown to the New Year. Additionally, the Casino’s five restaurants, including that of three-Michelin-star French chef Joël Robuchon, will be open and working on a first-come, first-served basis. Le Balcon Cabaret Music-Hall on Sainte Catherine Street will be doing what they do best when they bring the house down with a soul and Motown one-two punch featuring a duo of singers (and full live band) belting out classics by the likes of James Brown, Chaka Khan, Jackson Five, Aretha Franklin and more. The dinner-and-show ticket includes a four-course menu, the show and a glass of bubbly at midnight.
The downtown dance party tip
Get the night flying at Jet Night Club, Crescent Street’s largest nightclub, which is promising the “ultimate New Year’s Eve experience!” for you and 999 of your friends, including a range of VIP ticket packages plus 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 its 80s-90s vibe, as well as Copacabana, which will be spinning Top 40, house, R&B and club anthems – both clubs offer a range of tix. A couple blocks away, Le Cinq offers a singular dancing environment: it’s situated in the private chapel of a heritage building. Their New Year’s Eve Madness event also 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 is the number of beers they have on hand: over 150 beers from 30 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 $50 VIP pass will get you into all three (whatever you choose, you’ll be rewarded with a glass of the sparkly stuff at midnight).
New Year’s mania 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 party spaces in the city, and this year’s “unlimited bubbles” dance party in the immersive, one-of-a-kind “Satosphère” space will be helmed by electronic music DJs Robert Robert, Ryan Playground and Thomas White. And just half a stone’s throw north, at premiere Quartier des Spectacles venue Club Soda, the annual Fluid dance party will finally be a bona fide adult in the province of Québec when it turns 18 this New Year’s Eve. 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. A short stroll up Saint Laurent will bring you to the classy and sassy Blvd 44 in unique boutique Hotel (10) (with its incomparable architecture and location), with a full range of ticket packages 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 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 for their Montréal Ball, but the range of ticket and package prices is far greater, ranging from $35 right up to the truly royal King’s Ransom Package for $6649.
Party in MTL history
Two rather extraordinary venues will be throwing bashes in the city’s burgeoning southwest district, beginning with one-of-a-kind Griffintown party palace New City Gas, built in the historic, industrial-age New City Gas complex that lit Montréal streets once upon a time. The Lumen Festival of Music and Visual Arts will close out on Dec. 31 at New City Gas with a New Year’s Eve party featuring Miami house DJ/producer Borgeous. Over in Little Burgundy, the Final Fantasy New Year’s Eve event takes place in the Salon 1861 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 for all you night (and morning) owls
If you’re the kind of person who only gets their party going by the time the clubs are closing, the Gay Village has a couple of answers to your New Year’s Eve insomnia. Circus Afterhours will once again close the book on 2017 with the second edition of their “Epilogue” New Year’s event. With DJs Mark Sherry and D-Unity, it will feature 14 hours of partying in three rooms (trance, techno and hip-hop) starting at 10 pm. And at the nearby Stereo – which boasts the city’s best sound system – they’ll be going for 29 hours (yes, you read that correctly) at their two spaces, Stereo Nightclub and Stereo Bar. The third edition of their Vision NYE party starts on December 31, 2017 at 10 pm and ends on January 2, 2018 at 3 am. Godspeed.
Jamie O’Meara, blogger
Jamie O’Meara is a writer for The Montreal Gazette, C2 Montréal, Moment Factory and more. He also manages the PR Team at the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival and is the former Editor-in-Chief of alt-weekly newspaper HOUR Magazine.