Plenty to do in Montréal on U.S. Thanksgiving

Jamie O'Meara

Given that Canada started celebrating Thanksgiving earlier than our brethren in the United States, in 1578 as opposed to 1621, it’s only fitting that we celebrate it earlier in the year as well, in mid-October (primarily because our northern climate has a shorter growing season) as opposed to the fourth Thursday in November. What we do have in common is an equal appreciation for turkey time, and to that end we’ve prepared some suggestions for things to do on U.S. Thanksgiving weekend this year, Nov. 23-26.

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Performances to whet arts appetites

In Montréal, we’re thankful year-round for the amazing range of live performance options at our disposal, and Thanksgiving weekend is no exception. Ascendant circus practitioners Les 7 Doigts are joining forces with several high-profile Montréal choreographers (including the provocative Marie Chouinard) for a three-piece, dance-meets-circus production called Triptyque at Théâtre Maisonneuve, Place des Arts, November 23-25. Speaking of dance, perennially popular crowd-pleaser Stomp is still going strong after touring the world for the last 20 years, and makes its return to Montréal at Place des Arts’ elegant Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, November 24. And for those desiring a taste of musical Montréal, local indie-folk royalty The Barr Brothers will be playing tunes off their just-released third full-length, Queens of the Breakers, at MTELUS (formerly Metropolis), on November 24.

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Gobble, gobble, gobble

Given that it’s U.S. Thanksgiving, and not the Canuck one, traditional turkey dinners with all the fixin’s are few and far between. However, Les Deux Gamins on the newly reconstructed and reimagined Prince Arthur Street is continuing its own U.S. holiday tradition with a mouth-watering Thanksgiving turkey dinner special menu on November 23 only. Montréal smoked meat institution Schwartz’s Hebrew Delicatessen does a mean smoked turkey plate, and similarly smoky turkey happiness can also be found at many historic neighbourhood delis famous for their smoked meat. And with the highest concentration of kitchens on the continent (approximately 65 restaurants per square kilometre), Montréal is a veritable horn o’ plenty for foodies this holiday season.

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The hockey gods are smiling on Thanksgiving

Saturdays are hockey nights Canada, and the Buffalo Sabres are in town against the Montreal Canadiens on November 25 at the Bell Centre. And while tix to Habs home games are notoriously hard to come by – the majority of regular season seats are sold out before the very first faceoff – the Canadiens organization holds a number of additional individual tickets in reserve, so it’s still worth checking here. Additionally, the hockey club has a team-sanctioned resale platform for season ticket holders called Ticket Vault that may get you where you want to go.

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White hot shopping on Black Friday

While we don’t do Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November, weirdly enough the fourth Friday – Black Friday – has become a staple of the retail sales calendar as the Christmas shopping season begins in earnest. Downtown Montréal – including its renowned Underground City, 32-km warren of stores – is a shopaholic’s dream come true stretching along the length of main east/west commercial corridor Ste. Catherine Street. In addition hundreds of exclusive boutiques and brand name stores, Ste. Cat encompasses chic shopping malls ranging from Complexe Desjardins to Promenades Cathédrale, Les Cours Mont-Royal, Place Montréal Trust and the Montréal Eaton Centre – all within easy walking distance of each other – to stylish traditional Montréal go-to institutions like Ogilvy, Simons and Hudson’s Bay. And our U.S. friends might also be thankful that their stronger dollar basically makes the whole town a giant, more than 20% off sale.

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Popular spa pilgrimages

When it’s getting cold out there, it’s getting hot in here, in one of Montréal’s many top-notch spas, each exceptional for their own unique character. Bota Bota, Spa-sur-l’eau (“spa on the water”) is a favourite among locals and visitors alike for its chic, contemporary appeal and its location on a converted ferryboat docked in the Old Port. Expect personalized service and attention to detail in the Old World, stone-walled Le Spa in Old Montréal’s Hôtel Le St. James (Madonna’s home away from home when she’s in town). The past and the present blend harmoniously in the stylish décor of historic Griffintown’s Spa Cloud, which aims to be the greenest spa in the city. And Old Montréal’s popular Rainspa, in the cool and classy Place d’Armes Hôtel & Suites, manages to be exclusive and inclusive at the same time, a serene space with a vast Middle Eastern-style hammam that we can all be thankful for.

Jamie O’Meara

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.