French connection

Montreal's entertainment scene is heating up, with the star-packed jazz festival on the horizon


Whether you’ve come for a summer getaway or you’re a festival junkie, Montreal delivers at every level of sight, sound and taste. Let your stomach guide you through the bustling foodie scene, which offers far more than bagels and smoked meat.

Bagels are a big deal in Montreal.

Stroll through the Quartier des Spectacles to an array of buzzy restaurants and bars, or venture to nearby Chinatown for dim sum and bubble tea. Scoot up to Saint-Laurent Boulevard for chic bistros and chi-chi fine dining, or settle into one of the many wine bars or microbrew pubs.

Chow down on Montreal smoked meat at Schwartz's.

© Canadian Tourism Commission

For night owls who crave a good dance sesh, Old Montreal offers a slew of clubs and bars pumping out the beats. And if queer nightlife is more your speed, the Village has an electric atmosphere, with dozens of clubs and bars.

The art scene is one of the country’s most vibrant, too. Check out these two unique venues:


© Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal

Modern marvels

If you need a break from music, head to the Musée d’art Contemporain de Montréal (185 Saint-Catherine West, 514-847-6226, macm.org) for a little eye candy.

Browse more than 7,600 pieces, including installations, paintings, sculpture, prints and drawings, by the best Canadian and international contemporary artists.

In honour of its 50th anniversary, the Musée digs into the archives and unearths donor collections and previous acquisitions, including one particularly noteworthy bright spot: originally shown at the 2007 Venice Biennale, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s interactive installation Pulse Room (2006) is on display during the Jazz Festival. The sensory piece picks up on visitors’ heart rates and converts the spikes and peaks into flashes of light by way of 300 suspended incandescent bulbs.


© Society of Arts and Technology [SAT]

Digital delight

The Satosphère, an immersive theatre space at the Society for Arts and Technology (1201 Saint-Laurent, 514-844-2033, sat.qc.ca), supports research, creation, production, presentation, education and conservation of digital culture.

The Satosphère dome acts as a 360-degree canvas for video and light projections as well as interdisciplinary shows and concerts, so be sure to check the calendar of events.

While you’re there, fuel up on some great food at SAT’s Foodlab on the third floor. Small plates are innovative – sometimes even experimental – and, because it’s a not-for-profit resto, the price is right. One floor up is a fabulous outdoor terrace where you can snack and drink.


© Festival International De Jazz De Montréal, Jean-François Leblanc

Action in the Quartier

The Jazz Festival goes down in Montreal’s cultural hub, the Quartier des Spectacles. The 1-square-kilometre area in the downtown core is jam-packed with more than 80 cultural hot spots and venues – including eight public spaces.

A series of larger-than-life architectural video projections and innovative artistic lighting systems that illuminate building facades and the street life below showcases Montreal’s cutting-edge digital arts scene.


Coeur de Pirate

Jazzing it up

MONTREAL INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL June 26 to July 6, Quartier des Spectacles. montrealjazzfest.com.

In celebration of the Montreal Jazz Festival’s 35th anniversary, a spectacular lineup of talent is scheduled to rock the downtown core.

Given that jazz is a melting pot of musical styles and rhythms, it’s fitting that this year’s slate features a diverse gathering of legendary performers and artists who push musical boundaries.

Kicking off the two-week event, Beck makes his festival debut with a sampling from his newest album, Morning Phase, while crooner Cassandra Wilson marks the 20th anniversary of her famous breakthrough album, Blue Light ‘Til Dawn.

Tapping into jazz’s Afro-funk roots, Angélique Kidjo performs highlights from her 13th album, Eve, and reggae-rock star Ben Harper teams up with blues legend and harmonica master Charlie Musselwhite to present their collaboration, Get Up!

Beck

Other marquee names include Tony Bennett and Diana Ross, and there are many newer acts like Coeur de Pirate and BadBadNotGood. In the Nuits Heineken series, homegrown 90s alt-pop duo Gogh van Go reunite to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of their first album and reach a new audience.

For those with a taste for artistic mashups, the Culte! series presents the Canadian premiere of For The Record: Tarantino In Concert. Melding the musical scores and cinematic inspiration of Quentin Tarantino’s greatest hits – it’s Broadway meets Hollywood meets music hall – the event is sure to be killer.

On the other hand, if poetry is your jam, the Musique au MAC series presents L’orchestre d’hommes-orchestres’s Cabaret Brise-Jour, based on the music of Kurt Weill. The limit-pushing show weaves poetry and theatre into a unique musical spectacle.

To plan your schedule and keep acts, artists and venues in the palm of your hand, visit mobile.montrealjazzfestival.com.

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